Distance swimmer Diana Nyad was pulled from the water Tuesday morning during her fourth attempt to swim 100 miles from Cuba to Florida. She started the swim late Saturday night and would have been the first person ever to complete the journey without a shark cage.
According to ABC News, Nyad’s support crews determined the conditions were no longer safe for Nyad, who turns 63 on Wednesday, or for her crew of more than 60 people. She had severe sunburn and a strained bicep muscle, her lips and tongue were swollen from the salt water, and she could barely walk.
Crewmembers also believe Nyad was struck by jellyfish at least four times during the course of the swim. Jellyfish stings interfered with her attempt to complete the swim last year, and this year she came prepared with a custom-made wetsuit resistant to jellyfish stings.
Nyad, who is openly lesbian, was featured in a July interview with Out magazine, where she called the swim “her own private Olympics.”
“Nobody unkindly wrote me last year to say, ‘Oh, what a disappointment,’” Nyad told Out. “They said, ‘It’s all about the journey, and you don’t need to get to the other shore.’ That’s the irony. It’s always the debate of the journey and the destination. You wouldn’t be going through that heroism if you weren’t shooting for the other shore. It’s all about the destination -- and the journey to get there, but not without the destination.”