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Australian begins Cuba-U.S. swim without shark cage

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Havana, Jun 12 (EFE).- Australian swimmer Chloe McCardel set off Wednesday from Havana in a bid to reach Key West, Florida, in 60 hours without the aid of a shark cage.

McCardel began her endurance swim from the Ernest Hemingway International Nautical Club, located just west of the Cuban capital, wearing only her swimming suit, goggles, swim cap and a cream to protect her skin.

The 29-year-old will try to surpass the feat of countrywoman Susan Maroney, who completed the 190-kilometer (100-mile) Straits of Florida crossing in May 1997 but did so while enclosed in a cage to protect herself from potential shark attacks.

McCardel's previous accomplishments include taking first place in the 46-kilometer (28.5-mile) Manhattan Island Marathon Swim in 2010 and winning the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Sotiraki Cup, which the Channel Swimming Association awards to the woman who covers the English Channel in the fastest time in a given year.

The Australian can break the record for a solo unassisted ocean swim that was set by Australian-British swimmer Penny Palfrey, who covered the 108-kilometer (67.26-mile) distance from Little Cayman Island to Grand Cayman Island in 2011.

McCardel's 20-person support crew will accompany her aboard several boats.

The last person to attempt the Havana-Key West swim was 63-year-old American Diana Nyad, who set off from the same spot in Havana in August 2012 but had to abandon the attempt due to severe jellyfish stings and an unexpected storm.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/130612/australian-begins-cuba-us-swim-without-shark-cage