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Endurance swimmer Penny Palfrey, 49, fails to complete swim from Cuba to Florida

Palfrey had to be pulled out of the water 26 miles from the finish line, but may still have set a new record for the longest unassisted swim.

Penny palfrey 120701Enlarge
World Champion Marathon swimmer and world record in open water swimming, Penny Palfrey, photogrpahed before her attempt to swim from Cuba to the US. She is standing next to the Cuban commodore of the Hemingway International Yacht Club in Havana, Jose Miguel Diaz. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

British-Australian grandmother Penny Palfrey, 49, has failed in her attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.

AFP reports that Palfrey had to be pulled from the water 40 hours into the three-day attempt because of a strong ocean current.

"That made it impossible for her to continue her swim," her crew tweeted.  A separate message posted on Facebook at 2am Sunday morning explained that the attempt had ended around midnight.  

More from GlobalPost: Penny Palfrey attempts 103 mile swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage

Palfrey had fended off painful jellyfish stings while keeping an eye on hammerhead sharks, but her her support team said the Florida Strait currents "proved to be her biggest obstacle," Fox News says.

CNN says that despite failing to reach Florida, Palfrey has beaten her own record of 67 miles for the longest unassisted swim, which she set in 2011 while swimming from Little Grand Cayman island to Big Grand Cayman island.

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The effort has been reported as a 103-mile swim, said an article in USA Today, however the GPS coordinates on her webpage suggest it is more like 107 miles.  The same article described conditions earlier in the swim, saying the water was bath water-warm but calm, the heat was extreme but Palfrey was "swimming steady" reapplying sunscreen and grease to prevent chafing.

Associated Press says that Australian Susie Maroney made the crossing in 1997 at age 22, but with a shark cage.  Another American, Diana Nyad, 62, made two attempts without a cage last year, but they were cut short by asthma attacks and jellyfish stings.  She will try again this summer.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/120701/endurance-swimmer-penny-palfrey-49-fails-complete-swim-cuba-fl