Monday, September 2, 2013

A 90 mile swim.

As I type, there is a woman in the final stages of her swim from Havana, Cuba to the Florida Keys. If she makes it, Diana Nyad will be the first person to have made the 90 mile swim without the use of a shark cage, setting a pretty incredible record. She calls it her "Xtreme Dream".

All I could think about when I saw the headline was how staggering a task that really is. I am no long distance swimmer, so I can't say I know what she's going through. I have, however, battled the currents of the Cuban waters while scuba diving along Havana's coast, so I can attest to the fact that swimming against those waters is unbelievably difficult. No doubt, it is beautiful, but those currents are strong.

For example, on one of my last days in Havana, a few of us were hoping to go for a dive just off of the rocks in Havana. It was a sunny day, but the waters were pretty rough, so we weren't sure if we should go. Ultimately, we were up for an adventure, so we just decided to go for it.

That dive was easily the hardest dive I've ever been on.

Getting in the water proved difficult from the get-go (that should have been our first sign). The waves were mildly rough, but we jumped in, put our gear on and had a solid drift dive. The plan was to drift along the coast for a couple hundred meters (about 50 minutes), and resurface where we could climb out in an "easier" location (with some rudimentary steps leading out of the water). As it happened, we missed the exit point by about 50 meters. We inflated our BCDs and surface kicked against the current for what seemed like hours. Most of the time, it felt like we weren't even making any progress. But alas, we made it to our originally planned exit point. We got battered by waves coming in, and took a few tumbles. Once we reached the exit spot, we realized that there wasn't really an exit (*facepalm*). So, we threw our gear over a ledge, hopped over a wall, and walked across a wave-bashed cove, bracing ourselves whenever a big wave hit. We finally reached a spot where we could lift ourselves up and onto the street.

The dive information from someone's logbook that day.

It is no surprise to me that there has yet to be a successful attempt (perhaps today is the day?) at swimming the 90 miles between Havana, Cuba and the Florida Keys. Having experienced even slightly the natural elements of those waters, I am even more staggered by Diana Nyad's attempts. Seriously, more power to her. This is her website, if you want to follow her in her last few miles.

4pm Update: Just before 2pm Eastern time, Diana Nyad becomes the first person to successfully complete the swim from Havana, Cuba to the Florida Keys without the aid of a shark cage.

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