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Australian Ends Bid To Swim Florida Straits Havana To Key West Swim Halted Just Inside U.S. Waters

Mon., June 10, 1996

An exhausted Australian distance swimmer, battered by a stormy night inside a shark cage, ended her attempt to swim unassisted from Havana to Key West when she reached U.S. territorial waters Sunday.

Susie Maroney was about 10 miles off the Florida Keys when she was pulled from the water, dehydrated and disoriented after reaching her revised goal of U.S. waters.

“She just made it,” her mother Pauline Maroney, told The Associated Press by phone before rushing to greet her 21-year-old daughter.

Just before her daughter stopped her swim, Pauline Maroney said: “She’s quite dehydrated. She’s sort of hallucinating, keeps thinking people are giving her different times to stop. She’s been vomiting and we had to put her out in open sea, which was another concern.”

Maroney was being brought to Lower Keys Florida Health System in Key West, said hospital spokeswoman Linda Douville, who had no details on her condition.

Swim coordinator Hugh Rule said a storm blew up at about 9 p.m. Saturday with no warning and lasted six hours, creating conditions that were extremely hard on the swimmer.

“She was getting beat up from one side to the other,” Rule said. “She was getting bashed up against the side of the mesh cage.

By the time Maroney came aboard one of the escort boats, she had made it more 89 miles, more than ninetenths of the way across the Florida Straits, which separate Havana from Key West.

Maroney started her trip from Havana early Saturday as a crowd of several hundred watched from shore.

In more than 50 tries by swimmers to cross the Straits recognized by the Swimming Hall of Fame, none has been successful.


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