AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 80: Jellyfish Stings Force Diana Nyad To Give Up Record Attempt Again

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 80: Jellyfish Stings Force Diana Nyad To Give Up Record Attempt Again

September 25, 2011


After more than forty hours and brave attempt to continue despite crippling jellyfish stings, Diana Nyad was forced to give up her second record attempt in two months to swim from Cuba to Florida.

The 62-year-old former Pine Crest swimmer was told by doctors if she encountered any more burning man o’ war stings it could prove life-threatening or cause paralysis.

Shortly after 11 a.m. on Sunday, doctors from the University of Miami told Nyad that the toxins from the stings would build up and that one more sting could cause permanent injury or even death.

Nyad’s face and body were swollen with red welts from the venomous jellyfish stings that kept attacking her Saturday night and early Sunday morning. Late Saturday night she was forced to leave the water to get treatment. She returned to the swim a little after midnight.

To help avoid more stings, her handlers made a neoprene mask by cutting eye and mouth holes through a heat cap that safety diver Rob MacDonald had used when he climbed Mount Rainier. She wore a long-sleeved pink shirt, black neoprene mask, blue swim cap and transparent goggles.

Nyad was noticeably upset over having to end her inspiring journey.

“It’s a huge disappointment,” Nyad said.

She got further than a month ago. She completed more than 67 nautical miles out of 103 miles through the Florida Straits. The strong cross currents knocking her off course was another contributing factor.

Last month, Nyad was forced to stop because of asthma attacks and severe shoulder pain and was pulled out of the water after 60 miles and almost 29 hours.

Nyad was being treated on her support boat Sunday afternoon and didn’t say whether or not she will attempt the swim again in the near future.

It was Nyad who told her flotilla of four support boats that she was listening to her doctors and added “For each of us, isn’t life about determining your own finish line? This journey has always been about reaching your own other shore no matter what it is, and that dream continues.”

Had Nyad continued, her “non-stop record” would have been amended to “staged swim record” since she was on her support boat for treatment.


World record holder Sun Yang of China made increased his stock as an Olympic gold medal hopeful at the 2012 London Olympics after his showing at the Chinese Long Course Nationals in Rizhao, China. Sun won the 1500-meter freestyle in 14:45.78 for his fourth win of the meet. His record is 14:34.14. Sun has three of the top five swims this year. Sun also won the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle events during the week-long meet. Sun told reporters, “I have much room for growth next year, and my coach has given me a goal of Olympic success.”…. Olympic butterflyer and former world record holder Geoff Huegill of Australia has a new book out, Be Your Best. In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Telegraph, the 32-year-old admitted abusing recreational drugs and had suicidal thoughts when his life spiraled out of control when he retired after the 2004 Athens Olympics. At age 32, Huegill is mounting a comeback. He returned to swimming competitively in 2008. He said he wrote the book so others could learn from his mistakes. “Sooner or later the truth catches up with you,” Huegill told the Telegraph. “I remained trapped because I was so ineffective in my life outside the pool,” Huegill writes in his book.” After 16 years of intense swimming, he said he had no idea of the real world. Huegill also battled clinical depression and weight gain from junk food eating. Huegill said he started turning his life around in 2007 after meeting his wife Sara.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Author: South Florida Aquatic Club - SOFLO Swimming

Welcome to the South Florida Aquatic club, a premier community swim team dedicated to providing opportunity and encouragement to all team members, from the beginner to the seasoned Olympic athlete in their pursuit of excellence. The year-round development program for competitive swimming features life-enhancing qualities including integrity, discipline, teamwork, sportsmanship and health and fitness. We invite you to navigate the club’s portal for information about the team.

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