US & Canada

Diana Nyad's Cuba to Florida swim held up by squall

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Media captionNyad has set off on her record attempt without a shark cage

An overnight squall has held up the bid by a US woman to become the first person to swim from Cuba to the US without a shark cage.

Diana Nyad, 62, and her team reported at 01:45 (05:45 GMT) that they were safe but had to wait for conditions to improve, according to their blog.

Nyad otherwise has been making good progress despite some jellyfish stings on the 103-mile (166-km) crossing.

She is now said to be 55 miles off the coast of Key West.

Nyad, who is relying on an electronic shield as a shark deterrent, is hoping to reach Florida on Tuesday, ahead of her 63rd birthday on Wednesday.

It is her fourth attempt. She made her first in 1978.

Her second bid was cut short by shoulder pain and an asthma attack and she was forced to abort an attempt last September after potentially deadly jellyfish stings.

She is being accompanied by a support team in boats.

Dolphins

Nyad, who set out from the Cuban capital Havana on Saturday, covered about a third of the distance to Florida in the first 35 hours.

After an "awesome" first day, with calm flat waters and a pace of 50 strokes a minute, Sunday night was difficult as she suffered multiple jellyfish stings - on her lips, forehead, hands, and neck.

A storm on Monday morning pushed her eastwards but she continued swimming, wearing a special head-to-toe swimming suit to minimise the threat from jellyfish.

Swimming conditions improved during the day with blue skies and level seas.

Nyad's team said her spirits had been lifted during the afternoon by a surprise visit from a boatload of friends and family.

On Monday evening, she found herself swimming among dolphins.

She has added jellyfish experts and detectors to her support team - alongside divers whose task is to protect the swimmer from sharks. A team of divers is on constant alert to plunge in and guide sharks away.

Before the swim, Nyad said she felt "excited" but was aware of the dangers.

"I know how difficult it is - there is a reason no-one's ever done it," she said. "But I'm prepared. I may suffer some but I'm prepared for that too."

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