Chloe McCardel, Endurance Swimmer, Throws in Towel on Florida Strait

Image: Chloe McCardel, Endurance Swimmer, Throws in Towel on Florida Strait Australian endurance swimmer Chloe McCardel, 28, addresses reporters during a news conference Thursday, June 13, 2013, in Key West, Fla.

Friday, 14 Jun 2013 10:21 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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After six months of training and remortgaging her home for a shot at swimming history, Australian endurance swimmer Chloe McCardel said she is done with trying to swim the Florida Strait after failing to do so on Wednesday.

She said "debilitating" jellyfish stings caused her to reconsider after a little more than 11 hours in the water after leaving Havana, Cuba.  She told the Associated Press she decided to make the swim in June because she believed the jellyfish danger would be at its lowest. But the jellyfish apparently put McCardel on its entrée menu shortly after she hit the water.

The Melbourne resident told the Associated Press the jellyfish attacks were relentless and the intensity of them caught her off guard.

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"I had one coming out of my mouth," McCardel told the Associated Press. "I was pulling it, this tentacle out of my mouth, but I don't remember this moment. My kayaker told me that I was doing this, 'cause I have no recollection. I'm not coming back. That's it."

"I got smashed with them coming from every direction," McCardel continued. "I would not have gone to all this trouble if I had known they would be out in such numbers in June."

A team of more than 30 doctors and weather experts had signed on to travel with McCardel on Wednesday, according to ABC News. She had planned on only receiving liquid meals in a bottle every half hour during her roughly 110-mile journey from Cuba to Florida.

But then came the "attack of the jellyfish." Jellyfish have been around since the dinosaurs, made up of about 95 percent water. Jellyfish are able to use the sting of its tentacles to paralyze its prey before eating it. Jellyfish stings, though, vary in severity, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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According to the National Science Foundation, jellyfish stings kill between 20 to 40 people in the Philippines alone annually. They are known to survive in the harshest conditions, even in ocean areas called "dead zones" where no other sea creatures live. In the Sea of Japan, they are known to grow as large as refrigerators. (http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/jellyfish/textonly/index.jsp)

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