Entries in Florida (7)


Diana Nyad Pulled from the Water Before End of Historic Swim

ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images(KEY WEST, Fla.) -- Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad was pulled from the water early Tuesday morning, prematurely ending her attempted Cuba-to-Florida swim.

Tuesday afternoon, she completed a symbolic swim to the Florida shore and then proceeded to talk about the journey.

"Could I say there is no disappointment?" she asked, pausing to spit water. "No."

She thanked her team and talked to the gathered crowd about her lifelong quest to "cross this ocean," and then seemed to look faint, easing herself down. But she continued to talk.

Would she do it again? The answer seemed to be "no." It wasn't the fatigue, the pain, the hunger or even the circling sharks but the jellyfish that did her in. "With those things, the swim just isn't fun," she said.

Nyad was attempting to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. Wednesday is her 63rd birthday.

[See Photos from Diana Nyad's Journey]

Support crews pulled Nyad out of the water at 12:55 a.m., but they only revealed it hours later as they gave a phone interview to ABC News' Good Morning America.

"We pulled her out of the water," Steven Munatones told Robin Roberts. "The dangers were so great that we couldn't risk anyone's life, including her own."

Munatones was the official observer of the swim and the editor-in-chief of the Daily News of Open Water Swimming.

It was Nyad's fourth attempt to complete the swim.

Support crews monitoring Nyad told GMA that Nyad had severe sunburn, a strained bicep muscle and could barely walk. Her lips and tongue had become increasingly swollen overnight, puffing up because of salt water. Members of her support crew of 63, which included multiple boats, had slathered her face and full-body wetsuit with black-tinted lanolin to keep the jellyfish and the cold at bay.

Team members said she had been struck at least four times by jellyfish during her voyage. Jellyfish stings had also cut short her attempt to make the crossing in 2011. This was Nyad's third attempt to complete the swim in less than a year.

During the arduous journey, which began late Saturday night, Nyad was not allowed to touch or be touched by any of the support crews or vessels. At a pace of 50 strokes a minute, the swim was expected to take 60 hours.

A squall with winds of 14 knots hit the flotilla Sunday and stayed "nearly stationary over" Nyad, forcing her to move northwest in order to try to find a way out of the storm.

Nyad ended her last attempt in September 2011 after more than 40 hours, 67 nautical miles of swimming and two Portuguese man o' war stings.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Diana Nyad: Endurance Swimmer Makes Another Attempt to Swim From Cuba to Florida

ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images(HAVANA, Cuba) -- Diana Nyad is swimming her way back to America in a new attempt to become the first person to swim to Florida from Cuba without a shark cage.

Nyad, 62, started the 103-mile journey late Saturday night from Havana, Cuba, where she encountered box jellyfishes and has been stung at least four times already.

"Diana is swimming backstroke right now leading with the cap-covered part of her head to minimize contact. There are so many jellyfish..." a member of Nyad's team posted to her Twitter account.

Observer Steve Munatones said on Nyad's official blog that it will be a long, tough journey for the endurance swimmer.

"If this swim is the equivalent of five English Channels, and I think it is, in terms of time, she's just swum one English Channel, 25 percent of it backstroke," he wrote.

Nyad is still swimming at her regular pace of 50 strokes per minute.

"Today is more like swimming. I don't know what you would call last night ... probably surviving," Nyad said according to her blog.

Nyad ended her last attempt in September 2011 after more than 40 hours and 67 nautical miles of swimming, and two Portuguese Man-of-War stings.

"The medical team said I should not go another two nights in the water and risk additional likely Man-of-War stings which could have a long term cumulative effect on my body. But for each of us, isn't life about determining your own finish line? This journey has always been about reaching your own other shore no matter what it is, and that dream continues," Nyad called out to her flotilla of four escort boats from the water, according to her website at the time.

If she had completed that swim, she would have broken her 1979 record, when she swam 102.5 miles from the Bahamas to Florida.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Alleged Drug 'Queenpin' Extradited from Mexico, Appears in Florida Court

Comstock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- The alleged "queenpin" of Mexico's West Coast drug trade, once celebrated in song as the "Queen of the Pacific," appeared in a U.S. courtroom Friday to face drug trafficking charges after being extradited from Mexico City to Miami.

Sandra Avila Beltran, who allegedly once controlled cocaine traffic from Colombia via Mexico to the U.S. Pacific Coast, had been held by Mexican authorities since she was pulled over and arrested in her BMW in 2007.

She was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2004 on two counts of cocaine trafficking. She had fought extradition while in Mexican custody, but arrived in Florida earlier Friday and appeared in court that afternoon to hear the charges read. She is scheduled to be arraigned next Tuesday.

Until her arrest Beltran, the niece of a notorious organized crime figure, allegedly reigned over a profitable business from her Mexico City apartment for years, while also having affairs with Colombian and Mexican drug kingpins. Her personal relationships, her sex appeal and her business savvy allegedly helped her control the cocaine conduit from Colombia. She was arrested soon after Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched his war on drugs.

Beltran was lauded as the "Queen" in a "narcocorrido" -- a drug ballad -- by the group Los Tucanes de Tijuana. The song describes how "La Reina del Pacifico" lands at a luxe party in the mountains in a helicopter: "The boss ordered everyone to hold their fire. Out came a beautiful lady, dressed in camo and [carrying] and [AK-47]. ... She was the famous Queen of the Pacific and its shores, the strong lady of the business, a true heavyweight. "

Beltran was also reportedly the inspiration for a 2004 novel called "The Queen of the South," about an enterprising Mexican woman who rises from drug smuggler's girlfriend to queen of her own empire.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Diana Nyad Makes Another Attempt to Swim From Cuba to Florida

Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images(HAVANA, Cuba) -- Diana Nyad will make another attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida after failing to reach her goal in August.

This time, the 62-year-old endurance swimmer from Los Angeles said she's ready for the planned 60-hour journey which she began in Havana on Friday night.

"I'm prepared and even saying that though, how many times do you get to do something of this big an adventure? You know, how many times do you get to feel this alive? This awake and alive?" said Nyad.

An asthma attack ended her attempt last month after 29 hours in the water. She was 15 mph off course due to strong currents, according to Tweets on her page at the time.

Nyad is hoping to break her own world record for open-water swimming without a shark cage. A swimmer from Australia finished a swim from Cuba to the Keys in 1997 but used a cage.

If she completes the swim, she would break her 1979 record, where she swam 102.5 miles from the Bahamas to Florida.

"I feel in better shape at 62 than I was at 28, which is the first time I tried this, 28 years old. I'm not as fast as I was then and I'm a little fatter but that's ok," she said.

Well wishers cheered Nyad on as she began her swim Friday.

On Nyad's twitter account, her assistants have been updating the public of the swimmer's progress.

At one point, it appeared she was stung by a moon jelly.

"Chief handler Bonnie Stoll said, "Diana was stung along both arms the side of her body and her face," in a message posted on her Twitter account.

After changing suits and rehydrating, Nyad continued her journey.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Swimmer Diana Nyad Forced to End Swim from Cuba to Florida

ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images(HAVANA) -- Long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad's quest to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without using a shark cage came to an end early Tuesday due to "5 to 10 knot winds and less than ideal currents," her team tweeted.

CNN reports the 61-year-old American swimmer had trouble going through ocean swells and faced shoulder pain and asthma.  Nyad was also vomiting when she was taken out of the water and boarded onto a boat at 12:45 a.m. Tuesday, almost halfway into her estimated 60-hour journey, according to CNN.

"I am not sad.  It was absolutely the right call," she told CNN.

Prior to giving up her 103-mile swim, Nyad's team tweeted that "she was surrounded by dolphins and a beautiful Caribbean sunset."

"But strong currents blew her 15mph off course," and "The combination of factors was too much to safely continue," her team posted on Twitter.

Nyad set out to complete the feat on Sunday, jumping into the water at 7:45 p.m. off Havana's Marina Hemingway.  Her latest attempt was her second -- she had previously tried to finish the journey back in 1978 at the age of 28.  Swimming inside a shark cage at the time, she was forced to quit nearly 42 hours into the swim because of strong currents and heavy winds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


American Swimmer Diana Nyad Begins Swim from Cuba to Florida

ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images(HAVANA) -- Long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad set out on her quest Sunday night to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without being enclosed in a shark cage.

At 7:45 p.m., Nyad jumped into the water at Havana's Marina Hemingway to begin her 103-mile swim to Florida, her team reported in her online blog.

During her journey, which is estimated to take about 60 hours, she will be followed by a team of doctors, nutritionists and even specialists trained to deter sharks that may get in her way.  Nyad's crew will also be utilizing a device that emits electrical currents to repel the ocean predators.

Prior to setting off for her swim, Nyad told reporters, "I'm almost 62 years old and I'm standing here at the prime of my life."

She noted that the weather and water conditions were ideal for her journey.

"Now I look out at a dead, flat calm, so I think this is my day," the American swimmer said.

Strong currents and heavy winds kept Nyad from accomplishing the feat when she first attempted it back in 1978 at the age of 28.  The endurance swimmer lasted nearly 42 hours before she was taken out of the water. During that attempt, she swam in a shark cage.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Controversial Fla. Pastor: Afghan UN Violence 'Proves My Point'

Mario Tama/Getty Images(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) -- Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who oversaw the burning of a Koran last month, tells ABC News that he does not feel responsible for the violent protest at a United Nations compound in Afghanistan on Friday that left at least 11 dead. Instead, he said the violence proved his point.

"We wanted to raise awareness of this dangerous religion and dangerous element," Jones said. "I think [the attack] proves that there is a radical element of Islam."

As for the 11 dead, which included seven U.N. staffers and guards, Jones told ABC News Nightline anchor Bill Weir, "We do not feel responsible, no."

The deaths followed a protest march in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday against the Koran burning that Jones supervised last month, while another pastor, Wayne Sapp, soaked the Koran in kerosene and burned it.

"We decided to put the Koran on trail," Jones said. "I was the judge but I did not determine the verdict. I was just a type of referee so that people got their time to defend or condemn the Koran."

Jones said that a "jury" of people from all over Florida debated the radicalism of Islam, and the "Koran was found guilty."

Police told ABC News the protest in Afghanistan started peacefully but took a violent turn after a radical leader told those gathered that multiple Korans had been burned. People angrily marched on the nearby U.N. compound, despite police who fired AK-47s into the air in hopes of subduing them.

Police eventually turned their weapons on the protesters, killing at least four, police said, before they were overtaken and had their guns stolen. Using the police weapons, the protesters killed four U.N. guards from Nepal and then three foreign workers in the U.N. building -- a Norwegian, a Romanian and a Swede.

Despite an onslaught of attention Jones got when he initially made his threat to burn the Muslim holy book in September 2010 -- including a personal plea from President Barack Obama -- the actual burning of the Koran last month went relatively unnoticed in western media.

President Obama condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms" in a statement.

Jones initially cancelled his plans for the book burning on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks. The stunt, according to Jones, was a protest for the Muslim-backed community center that was to be built near the site of the September 11 attacks in New York.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio