BRITISH-AUSTRALIAN swimmer, Penny Palfrey, has launched a historic attempt to swim unassisted from Cuba to the US, seeking to become the first do so without a shark cage.
The 49-year-old mother of three and grandmother of two jumped into the sea shortly after sunrise on Friday from the Hemingway International Yacht Club in western Havana, headed for Florida’s Key West.
The swim, a distance of 166 kilometres, is expected to take between 40 hours and 50 hours. ”A little excited, a little nervous,” Ms Palfrey told reporters before diving in.
The swimmer arrived at the dock and waved an Australian flag.
”Swimming strong. Great conditions. Some jellies, but not bad,” Palfrey’s support team tweeted after she covered 3.8 kilometres in her first hour.
”Cuba fading on horizon. Looking good,” a later tweet said.
Ms Palfrey is seeking to accomplish the feat in a ”call for friendly relations between the peoples of the US and Cuba”, according to the Cuban foreign ministry.
Former Australian marathon swimmer, Susie Maroney, swam from Cuba to Florida in 1997 at the age of 22, but she used a shark cage.
Two yachts, a kayak and a boat are part of Ms Palfrey’s support team, which includes her husband Chris. The vessels are carrying ultrasound equipment to ward off sharks.
Ms Palfrey, who was born in Britain and moved to Australia when she was 19 years old, has completed swims in the Caribbean and Pacific without a shark cage.
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