American endurance swimmer Diana Nyad began her second attempt in as many months to traverse the 103 miles of sea between Cuba and Florida, waving goodbye to well-wishers before jumping feet first into the still water at a Havana marina, then stroking toward the horizon.
The 62-year-old Los Angeles woman hoped to break her own world record for open-water swimming without a shark cage that she set in 1979 when she stroked from the Bahamas to Florida.
Her last attempt at the Cuba-to-Florida crossing failed Aug. 9 due to a crippling asthma attack that forced her gasping from the water after 29 hours.
Nyad insisted that this time around she was ready to brave the choppy seas, schools of jellyfish and limits of human exhaustion to accomplish her lifelong dream.
As darkness fell, about an hour and a half into the swim, Nyad's team sent a Twitter message that she was "going strong."
Just before she set off from Hemingway Marina on Friday evening, assistants smeared grease on her shoulders to prevent chafing during the planned 60-hour journey. She pumped her fists in the air as her support team blew horns and cheered from waiting boats.