September 22nd, 2011
05:40 PM ET
Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad hugged friends and waved at admirers at Havana’s Hemingway Marina before she jumped in the water at 6:04 p.m., hoping her third attempt to swim to Florida would end in success.
“I think at the age of 62 I honestly believe I'm in the best shape of my whole life, not just of the last two years,” she told reporters.
She expects the 100-plus mile swim to take close to 60 hours. That would put her into Florida sometime Monday.
Nyad attempted this swim in early August and had to be pulled from the water after some 60 miles, and almost 29 hours of swimming. She blamed a shoulder injury she suffered early in the journey, and an 11-hour-long asthma attack. Nyad says she believes the asthma attack followed an allergic reaction to pain medication she took for the shoulder injury.
But Friday, Nyad said she was confident the issues have been resolved, and she has what it takes.
“The asthma took me down, but ironically enough, that 29-hour swim was like a very, very expensive training swim,” she said.
This time, her 30-person team has injections for asthma just in case.
Nyad was subdued but determined as she greased up ahead of the swim.
“Not that I was ever cocky, but having been through this now and been so deeply and emotionally disappointed, I don’t want to take anything for granted,” she said.
In an interview several weeks after the August attempt, she told CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta she was still strong, and was not ruling out another attempt.
"I am capable of swimming from Cuba to Florida, and I will give it up, if I just can't make it," she said, "but I didn’t prove that to myself in this particular swim."
To attempt this swim again, Nyad said she would need good weather, calm waves and warm water, though she was willing to swim in slightly less optimal conditions than she once thought she needed.
"I used to have almost a paranoia of waiting for the (ocean) surface to be (completely) flat," she told Gupta. "(During the August attempt) we were out in some slappy waves, and it wasn’t fun, and you can’t glide across the surface, but I can make it."
Nyad’s tenacity has inspired many, but on Friday she said no matter what the outcome this time, she doesn’t think there will be a fourth attempt.
From around the web
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.