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Jellyfish stops swimmer from completing marathon

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Rodrigo Cokting
Staff writer

Thursday, June 13, 2013, 12:02 PM -

A little more than 100 miles. Three swimmers. Five failed attempts. 

Australian Cheryl McCardel is the latest to try to swim the distance between Havana, Cuba and Key West, Florida, only to be undone by the dangerous jellyfish of the Florida Straits. 

After suffering a "severe debilitating jellyfish sting," the 28-year-old aussie was forced to cut her swim short 11 hours after she began. McCardel spent nearly a year planning the feat alongside her team, even taking out a second mortgage on her house to finance the estimated $150,000 in costs. 


The swimmer had hoped to finish the long swim in nearly 60 hours. McCardel had previously made a double crossing of the English Channel but had never been spent in the water more than 25 continuous hours. 

In fact, McCardel followed English Channel Marathon rules for her swim: she could not touch her support boat or hold on to anything. It also meant she wasn't allowed to wear a full-body wetsuit, which could have helped her with the stings. 

It is the fifth attempt to swim the vast distance without a shark cage, but so far no one has been successful. Jellyfish stings and strong currents have been the main impediments so far. 

McCardel received the support of many in the swimming community including Diana Nyad, an endurance athlete that has failed three times to swim the distance. Nyad hopes to attempt for a fourth time this summer.

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