Nyad quits Cuba-to-florida swimming ultramarathon

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Rob O'Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau via Getty Images

FILE: In this handout provided by Florida Keys News Bureau, Diana Nyad reacts as she speaks to reporters and fans after arriving back in Florida, following the 61-year-old marathon swimmer's failed attempt to swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys August 9, 2011 in Key West, Florida.

Endurance athlete Diana Nyad, 62, ended her swimming ultramarathon from Cuba to Florida on Sunday after medics warned another painful sting from a Portuguese Man o' War could be life threatening, members of Nyad's team said. Nyad aborted a previous attempt last month due to an asthma attack.

Nyad was very swollen from multiple stings to her face and body, said Vanessa Linsley, who worked on Nyad's team.

"She's pissed. Nobody blames her. There isn't anything that can change this ... there's nothing that has to do with your swimming capabilities. You can't control mother nature," Linsley said.

The 62-year-old swimmer had completed at least 49 miles of the 103-mile passage of the treacherous Florida Straits. She initially soldiered through the stings, at one point cutting eye and mouth holes through a swim cap she wore over her face to prevent future stings.

But around 11:30 a.m., medics warned toxins from the stings were building up and another sting could be serious, Linsley said.

Linsley said Nyad was about to get out of the water and was surrounded by her support team.

Nyad was making her second attempt in as many months at the Cuba-Florida crossing, a lifelong dream that she first tried as a 28-year-old back in 1978, when she swam inside a steel shark cage for about 42 hours before ending the attempt. A cageless attempt this past August fell short 29 hours in when, gasping for breath, Nyad threw in the towel after an 11-hour asthma attack she blamed on a bad reaction to a new medicine.

Earlier, Nyad received oxygen and a steroid shot from her doctors and was treading water while she recovered from the stings.

After that, her team said in a website update that a so-called "staged swim record" would still be valid as long as she was on the boat only for treatment and not to rest - rather than a nonstop record.

Nyad had trained extensively at the Pasadena Aquatic Center.

© 2011 The Associated Press.

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