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Swimmer begins new Cuba-Florida bid

American endurance swimmer Diana Nyad has started her second attempt in as many months to traverse the 103 miles of sea between Cuba and Florida.

She waved goodbye to well-wishers before jumping feet first into the still water at a Havana marina, stroking her way toward the horizon.

The 62-year-old Los Angeles woman hopes 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 on August 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.

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.

"I feel good. I feel very good," Nyad said. "But as you know, it really doesn't matter how I feel right now."

She acknowledged being a little more subdued than the last time she departed from this same marina.

"Not that I was ever cocky, but having been through this now and been so deeply, emotionally disappointed, I don't want to take anything for granted," Nyad said. "It's not that I don't want to enjoy every moment and savour it, but it doesn't do any good to act like, 'Hey I've got this in the bag, this is going to be easy.'"

The schedule called for Nyad to reach Florida early on Monday. She hopes to take advantage of what she called a "magical window" of calm seas and favourable weather forecast to last through the weekend.

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