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article imageSwimmer abandons swim from Cuba to U.S. due to strong currents

By Leigh Goessl     Jul 2, 2012 in World
The 49-year-old grandmother who had been attempting to nab the title of being the first woman to swim between the two countries unassisted had to give up her swim this past weekend.
Penny Palfrey, an Australian-British endurance swimmer, had set upon a journey to complete the 103 mile swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys, but had to stop her quest as she reached the 76 mile mark, reported The Los Angeles Times.
Palfrey's total swim time was over 40 hours, and she made it three-quarters of the way. She had begun her swim on Friday morning and was expected to reach the Florida Keys by Sunday afternoon, but CNN reported the strong currents in the "shark-infested waters" made it "impossible" for Palfrey to continue her swim.
"Penny Palfrey had to be pulled out of the water, after swimming for more than 40 hours, at approximately midnight tonight due to a strong southeast current that made it impossible for her to continue her swim. Penny is presently on her escort boat being taken care of by her crew," a statement on her Facebook page stated.
In total, Palfrey swam all but 26 miles, reported Fox News Latino. Along the way she'd encountered jellyfish stings and had to keep a close eye on the hammerhead sharks below her. The currents were what were her "biggest obstacle", reported Fox.
She did not use a shark cage to navigate the sea, instead relying upon electrical field technology to ward the sharks off.
"We attach (the shields) to the kayaker and to the boat which emit an electric field through the water," Palfrey told reporters in Havana on Thursday, reported CNN. "When a shark comes within five meters it picks up the sensors on the snout. It doesn't harm them, but they don't like it and swim away."
This journey has been done before, but Palfrey had been hoping to set the record for being the only woman to make this swim without the aid of a shark cage. Several media reports noted Australian Susie Maroney, 22, successfully crossed in 1997, but she did use a shark cage.
Diana Nyad, a 62-year-old American, had attempted the swim twice last year, but had to stop. She plans to try again this summer.
Los Angeles times reported Palfrey is currently receiving medical treatment for dehydration, exhaustion and blisters on her tongue from the salt water.
Palfrey had been "100% focused on this swim for a year, so she was quite a bit upset,” her husband said at a news conference in Key West after the swim, according to the AP (courtesy of Los Angeles Times). “There were of course some tears. She didn't know what was happening until we told her, so it took a few minutes while she took that in.”
He also noted it was "too soon" to talk about another attempt.
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