MIAMI - Contrary winds and currents forced 61-year-old American swimmer Diana Nyad to abandon early on Tuesday her bid to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.
"Diana herself decided to end the swim ... The combination of factors was too much to safely continue," her crew members said in tweets on her Twitter account after Nyad was pulled out of the water halfway through her attempt to swim the 103-mile distance from Havana, Cuba, to Key West.
CNN, which had a producer on one of the boats accompanying Nyad, said she was vomiting when she was brought aboard an escort boat at 12:45 a.m. EDT on Tuesday.
Nyad, who breakfasted on scrambled eggs as her little flotilla headed for Key West, was disappointed but in good spirits.
"It felt like this was my moment. I don't feel like a failure at all. But we needed a little more luck," she said in a Tweet.
"It's hard because I felt like I had it in me," she said in another.
She had completed about 29 hours of the swim that had been expected to last about 60 hours. CNN producer Matt Sloane had earlier reported that Nyad had been experiencing twinges of pain in her shoulder and a touch of asthma.
Nyad, who had plunged into the warm sea at the Marina Hemingway on the western outskirts of the Cuban capital Havana at 7:45 p.m. EDT on Sunday evening, swam strongly for more than 24 hours before running into winds, rough seas and strong currents that buffeted her relentlessly.
"Earlier in the evening, she was surrounded by dolphins and a beautiful Caribbean sunset. But strong currents blew her 15 mph off course," said a Tweet from her team.
Nyad, who was raised in southern Florida and turns 62 this month, first tried the crossing from Cuba in 1978 at the age of 28, but failed in the face of winds and heavy waves.
The same swim was completed successfully in May 1997 by Australian Susan Maroney, who was 22 at the time. But Maroney used a shark cage.
Nyad's flotilla of escort vessels included specially equipped kayaks transmitting an anti-shark shield in the form of an electronic signal that is annoying to the sleek ocean predators that stalk the waters of the Florida Straits.
When she was years younger, Nyad put herself into the record books by swimming around Manhattan in 1975 in less than eight hours and by completing a 102.5 mile swim from Bimini in the Bahamas to Florida in 1979.
The veteran long-distance swimmer had said her main aim in attempting the Cuba to Florida swim again was to help people her age and older realize they can still achieve many things.
"We all have one life and it's a one-way street, so live it, live it large," she told MSNBC'S "Today Show" in an interview before she set off on Sunday.
Despite her having to abandon her bid, her fans Tweeted their admiration on Tuesday.
"That was Diana's whole point. Rethink old. Sorry she (had) to abandon but my admiration doesn't waiver. Go Diana," said one.
"So 61 yr old @diananyad "only" made it 1/2way to Cuba? officially ceasing my whining about being old. #wow," read another Tweet.
(Additional reporting by Vicki Allen in Washington; Writing by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Doina Chiacu)