Diana Nyad Attempts 48-Hour Swim in NYC Intersection for Sandy Recovery

In September, Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West, Fla. without a shark cage

The 64-year-old woman who swam from Cuba to Florida is attempting to swim for 48 hours straight in a pool installed in a Manhattan intersection to benefit victims of Sandy.

Wearing a pink swim cap, Diana Nyad dove into the 120-foot, two-lane pool set up in Herald Square and began doing laps shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Her aim is to raise money for the AmeriCares nonprofit health and disaster organization, according to the event’s website

So far, contributions have topped $42,000.

Nyad, 64, said on the "Today" show Monday she’s doing the swim so that the victims of the devastating storm aren't forgotten.

“I don't want to forget them,” she said. “I don't want to forget any people who have been through disaster.”

Last month, the native New Yorker became the first person to swim from Havana to Key West, Fla., without a shark cage.

She said one of her Manhattan swimming companions will be a dog named Roscoe that survived Sandy floodwaters. Also expected to join her are Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte and Richard Simmons, dressed in a suit with about 300 Swarovski crystals.

Nyad said she may break otherwise strict athletic rules by hugging some of the humans joining her in the two-lane pool. "I'm going to feel the solidarity. And every penny is going to go right to the victims."

Nyad's fame for her swim from Cuba was accompanied by speculation that she had gotten into or held onto a boat during part of her 53-hour journey. But on Monday, she waved off critics, saying, "there will always be naysayers."

She insisted she wore no flippers, used no cage, did not get out of the water and was never supported by another human being for what she calls "the most epic swim in history."

Nyad expects the Manhattan swim to be far more fun than her feat in the ocean, which she expected to be "much more unforgiving" than two days of urban pool laps.

After this, she said she's looking to more "personal, creative" charity events using the portable pool — possibly to raise money for victims of tornadoes, tsunamis, terrorist attacks and other disasters.

And, she added with a grin, she may want to try her hand at another solo event — maybe a one-woman show on Broadway. She offered no details.

Nyad tried unsuccessfully four times to make the 110-mile swim from Havana to Key West before completing the trek Sept. 2. In 1975, she swam around Manhattan.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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