Open Water Swimming Great Chloe McCardel talks about the Cuba Swim

Australian open water swimming star Chloe McCardel will be attempting to swim from Cuba to Florida in June. This is a daunting task and has never been completed without a shark cage. Marathon swimming legend Diana Nyad last attempted this swim in August of 2012 (her 4th attempt) but was stopped due to weather and jelly fish. In her attempt, McCardel will face many of the same obstacles but she has been immersed in a phenomenal training regimen and is confident in her chances for success.

SS: What got you started in open water swimming?

CM: I swam competitively as a teenager – specialising in butterfly. It was those years that grounded my aerobic fitness and conditioning which I was able to quickly tap into when I took up triathlon when I was at university. But, I fell in love with the open water component of triathlon and I kept wanting to see just how far I could go in kms so I signed up for the 11.2km Bloody Big swim in 2007 and won it (first female)!

SS: You’ve accomplished some amazing feats in marathon swimming including winning the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, swimming the fast recorded time of the English Channel in 2011 – what swim do you consider your greatest accomplishment to date?

CM: Truly, there is no stand-out swim because I have always given 100% and swum marathons until absolute exhaustion therefore I am equally proud of them all ☺ The 18km race down the Hudson in MIMS 2010 against the Spanish machine Jaime Caballero was pretty interesting and intense!

SS: What the longest swim you ever completed?

CM: The longest in distance would be the 2 and ¼ continuous crossings of the English Channel in 2012. Both of these were cold water swims and I am confident that in warmer water and with even more training and preparation behind me (and a great team!) I will be able to make 170km from Cuba to USA!

SS: What inspired you to attempt the swim from Cuba to the USA?

CM: Cuba to USA under traditional marathon swimming rules (e.g. English Channel rules) has never been successfully completed. It is now undoubtedly the most difficult swim of modern times, it drew me in as I am sure the Channel drew in Captain Matthew Webb all those years ago. The allure of being the first to achieve ‘the unachievable’ is strong, I want to push the boundaries of what people believe is possible and inspire as many people from across the globe as possible from my journey. I also thought this high profile swim would be a great opportunity to promote a worthy cause such as Cancer Charity.

SS: You’re doing this without a shark cage or any protective clothing, does the marine life of the gulf of Mexico concern you?

CM: It would be foolish of me to not research this swim and have a good understanding of the risks before considering an attempt. So I have factored in the marine life of sharks and poisonous jelly fish and we (my team and I) just accept this as part of our risk assessment and develop means to reduce the possibility of encounters with wild life. At no time would we ever consider harming marine creatures as part of our risk assessment. Sharks and jellyfish form part of the natural habitat of the oceans, it is their home, I am a visitor and I hope to merely pass through ☺ In short, no I am not worried.

SS: How long do you think the swim will take?
CM: This is a tough question. As you would know open water is dynamic, it is alive and ever changing unlike pool conditions. I know I can swim at approx. 4km an hour for over 20hrs in cold water in the English Channel, I believe I can predict my speed but I can’t predict the Gulf Stream and ocean environment – especially over such a large window. I will guess and say 60 hours – but only time will answer this question!

SS: Does your brain play tricks on you when you swim for so long?
CM: I have had hypothermia on a few occasions in marathon swimming so I can say that my mind has literally ‘played tricks’ on me before as symptom of my lowered core temperature. Other than that, I am pretty normal… though you should clarify this with my husband – he may have a different answer (he support crews all my marathon swims).

SS: Can you explain some of the logistics of a swim like this?
CM: Where to start… This has pretty much taken over my and my husband’s life over the last 9 months. For example, getting our team together – We have organised a crew of 35 people (10 are boat crew). But we only had a short time to lock everyone in since our announcement was only 4 months ago. For every role on our personal support team (25) we have probably interviewed or considered 3 more people. We have been dealing with 100 people to find the best 25 to work as a team. The administration side of things is slow but is equally as important as my swim training and other preparations.

SS: You’re raising money to fight cancer through this swim. Tell us more about that.
CM: The physical aspect of endurance required by myself as 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. I wanted to use this highly publicized swim to really make a difference in the fight to cure cancer. You can donate online via my website and 100% of the monies raised will be forwarded on to cancer charities across the globe. We will also be announcing some exciting athletic events within the next few weeks – I will keep you posted!

SS: How can people support your efforts?
CM: There are heaps of ways! You can make a donation to Cancer Charity, join one of our athletic adventures (to be announced soon!), jump on our FB page for daily updates including media, follow our GPS tracker during the swim via our website and follow my blog. We are still looking for swim partners so if you would like to promote your business send me a note. You can also email me directly and say ‘hi’ ☺

Chloë McCardel
Marathon Swimmer
Email: [email protected]
Face Book:

SS: What advice do you have for anyone considering getting into open water swimming?
CM: Swimming in the open water is such a beautiful way to be in touch with nature and the world and will give you so much in return for your efforts! If the swimming in deep water is new to you why don’t you find someone you know who already enjoys swimming outdoors and ask them to be your buddy for your first few swims.

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1 Comment on "Open Water Swimming Great Chloe McCardel talks about the Cuba Swim"

newest oldest most voted
Robert Charleton

Has everyone forgotten about the great Susie Maroney and her world record swims.
She is still the first person to swim from Cuba to America so please give credit
where it is due.

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Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis is a freelance commercial, sport and lifestyle photographer based in San Diego.  Mike began making photos in the early 80’s and immersed himself in all aspects of the photographic arts.  Mike’s professional career in in photography began after 12 years working within the United States Olympic movement; he …

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