American Diana Nyad has famously come up short many times in the last 30 years in attempts to successfully navigate the 106 mile strait between the southernmost tip of the United States in Key West and Cuba, but through her efforts has inspired thousands, if not millions, with her brave efforts to navigate the treacherous waters without the aid of a shark cage, a swim that requires roughly three days of non-stop swimming.
Nyad never let her age (63) be an excuse, but now a much younger Australian will attempt the swim. 27-year old Aussie Chloe McCardel has announced on her blog that she is going to take a run at the record this summer. If successful, her’s would be the longest unassisted open water swim, a record currently held by Britain’s Penny Palfrey at 66 miles. The swim will be an effort to raise money for cancer research.
We believe this swim will have an infinite capacity to unite the world in the fight against cancer because of the reach of our message and fundraising efforts through international media coverage and the team work involved by people across multiple countries and different political systems to promote, fundraise, organize and execute this feat. This support mirrors the support people with cancer deserve and how we can unite together to support these people against a common foe. The physical aspect of endurance required by a solo swimmer to conquer this enormous swim, non-stop, across the Gulf Straits from one country to another in a small way symbolizes the fight and incredible challenge many people face during their own journey with cancer. 100% of the monies raised will be forwarded on to cancer charities across the globe. The charities involved will be announced in early 2013.
McCardel’s open water resume is just as impressive as Nyad’s. Like the American, McCardel is a winner of the Manhattan Island Marathon (2010), one of the biggest swims on the open water circuit annually, as well as an English Channel champion. She has six total English Channel crossings under her belt, including a double-crossing in 2010 and 2012.
This swim is not so much daunting because of its distance (though clearly quite a distance), but because of the environmental challenges. It includes swimming through the gulf stream current that can throw a swimmer far off of the straight-line path, as well as an abundance of wildlife like jellyfish and sharks. The first swimmer to ever complete the crossing was another Australia, Susie Maroney, in 1997, but she did so with a shark cage. That means it wouldn’t qualify for the “unassisted” category.
McCardel is already among the best open water swimmers in the world; if she can even get close to completing this feat, she will move to legendary status. On Nyad’s final attempt, she swam for 42 hours, and was pulled from the water with an estimated 42 hours left to swim.