KCRW's Diana Nyad ends Cuba to Florida swim


Wind conditions and “less than ideal currents” prompted marathon swimmer Diana Nyad to end her second bid to swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys about halfway through her journey early Tuesday (8/9). The former commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition and current sports commentator for NPR affiliate KCRW-FM LA, became well-known in the ‘70s for long-distance ocean swimming. Had the latest attempt been successful, she would have broken her own record of 102.5 miles for a cageless, open-sea swim, set in 1979 when she made it from The Bahamas to Florida.

According to the Twitter feed, Nyad was pulled from the water early in the morning after swimming for 29 hours. The swim was expected to take 60 hours to cover at least 103 miles.

“It felt like this was my moment,” Nyad said on her Twitter feed. “I don’t feel like a failure at all. But we needed a little more luck.”

Nyad actually tried the Cuba swim once before — in 1978, when she was in her late 20s. She was in the water for more than 40 hours before she was forced to quit. Like this time, strong currents and high winds in the Florida straits pushed her off course.

The Twitter account reported she decided to end the swim herself, after “realizing the conditions of 5 to 10 knot winds and less than ideal currents.” An online chart plotting the swim’s track showed the Gulf Stream currents pushing Nyad to the east of the intended course. Nyad had hoped to end her swim at Southernmost Point in Key West.

Before the swim, Nyad told journalists she hoped her swim would inspire others her age to live active lives. She said she also hoped it could help improve understanding between Cold War rivals Cuba and the US.