No Shark Cage Swimming From Cuba

No Shark Cage Swimming From Cuba

While 60-year-old Diana Nyad makes her final preparations for her swim from Cuba to Florida, possibly towards the end of this week, she will be making history by attempting the 103-mile (165K) swim without a shark cage unlike the other swimmers in history who have attempted this swim with a shark cage.

One of these swimmers was International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame inductee Skip Storch. “When I researched swimming from Cuba to Florida in 1990, I concluded that it would difficult to swim to Key West, the shortest point between the two land masses. Although theoretically, the Gulf Stream could bring me closer to land somewhere along the Florida Keys, I would have to fight to swim west towards the end of the swim. On paper, it seems to be fine, but the problem is the Gulf Stream meanders and has eddies. The only thing predictable about the Gulf Stream is that it is affected by too many variables to predict. So I proposed to swim starting 10 miles west of Havana to Islamorada, Florida. My goal was a distance of 168 miles (270K).”

In the 1920’s, Charles “Zimmy” Zibleman origanally proposed this same swim, but he never attempted it.* In the 1950, a relay team of Cuban swimmers came close to completing it, but their shark cage fell apart near the end. After Diana Nyad’s attempt in 1978, Water Poenisch made a successful assisted swim from Cuba to Marathon Key using fins, mask and snorkel. Then I gave it a shot in 1993. Following my attempt was Susie Maroney’s successful shark-cage swim.”

Skip was understandably respectful about Diana’s attempt. “Her attempt this coming week without a shark cage will dispel any suggestion of being assisted. If successfully, it should be considered as the greatest marathon swim of all time in my opinion. The risks that she is taking include dehydration, sun exposure, hypothermia, fatigue, renal shutdown, muscle breakdown, jellyfish and the deadly Man-of War.”

* Historical Note: International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame inductee Charles Zibleman did not have legs, but completed a 233K (145-mile) staged swim down the Hudson River in 147 hours in 1937 while never leaving the water.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones