The sport of long-distance open-ocean swimming is like no other. RAAM riders take periodic motor home stops for hot showers and meals. Tour de France riders get massaged in hotels between stages. Even Mount Everest climbers stop and rest in tents, sometimes for days. Ms. Nyad’s sport allows none of this. In her four attempts to make the crossing from Cuba to Florida between 2011 and 2013—the narrative thread of her book—she was not permitted to even hang on to the side of the kayaks that trailed her, much less climb aboard the lead catamaran for a break. She had to tread water while eating, drinking, adjusting fogged-over goggles, or donning anti-jellyfish gear to ward off the deadly box jellies whose stings almost killed her and ended her 2011 and 2012 attempts.
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