Penny Palfrey, a 49 year old grandmother from Australia had hopes of completing a record breaking 103-mile swim from Cuba to the United States without a shark cage. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be for her. Strong currents caused the marathon swimmer to bring an end to her progress on Sunday.

Penny had already been swimming for more than forty hours before she was pulled out from the waters of the Florida Straits at about midnight. Initially, she had set out from Havana on Friday. In a statement, her team mentioned that the strong current from the southeast had made the swim impossible and unsafe for Penny to carry on. In fact, she was taken out of the water by an escort boat by her support crew.

It was such a waste as Penny had already made it past the halfway mark across the dangerous body of water that separates the Cuba from the United States. Penny had planned to complete the entire swim within forty to fifty hours. Her final destination was supposed to be somewhere in southern Florida and she was within grasp of it. Penny isn’t the first person attempting to accomplish this. In May of 1997, Susan Maroney, an Australian swimmer, was successful in completing the swim. The difference though is that she used a shark cage to assist her in completing the task. Diana Nyad, a 62 year old American marathoner, attempted the same swim twice last year without the aid of a shark cage. Both of her attempts turned out unsuccessful. The Florida Straits is well known for its tricky currents and unpredictable weather. This is the reason why both Diana and Penny failed to overcome the swim.

Attempting a swim like that of Susan, Diana and Penny requires a whole lot of courage, endurance and technique. This isn’t a task suitable for your everyday swimmers in the public swimming complex. The risk involved is extremely high and one could easily endanger him or herself without sufficient preparation. As mentioned, the currents are tricky and the weather is unpredictable. This goes the same for any open waters around the world. Hence, to accomplish such a task will require lots of preparation and a whole lot of training. Forty hours is already a long enough swim. During that period, there are not even any breaks for food or water. It is the determination and desire that makes a huge difference.

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