Diana Nyad’s record-setting, 103-mile weekend swim from Cuba to Florida was marred by swirling winds, choppy waters, seasickness and a bit of self-doubt, the exhausted but ebullient endurance swimmer said Tuesday.
Winds created choppy sea conditions about 90 minutes after she slipped into the water in Havana on Saturday morning. “As a swimmer, you’re never happy in wind, you go up and down and you fight it,” she said at a Tuesday press briefing in Key West.
Although the waves slapped against her, Nyad, 64, managed to avoid swallowing water until Saturday evening, when she donned a wet suit and a face mask to fend off the venomous box jellyfish that had marred her previous efforts to swim the distance. The custom-made mask, however, couldn’t prevent her from swallowing water.
“Saturday night was hell on Earth. I couldn’t take a breath — I was getting tired as well,” said Nyad, joking and in good spirits following the ordeal of completing the crossing on her fifth try after four failed attempts in 1978, 2011 and 2012.