61-year-old Diana Nyad has set on a 103 mile feat of swimming Cuba to Florida, late Sunday night.
Challenging herself and the concept of retirement, she has been training for two years to complete this mission and break the record. Diana attemped this swim previously in 1978.
But is the human body capable of such a long water trek? Dr. Ken Kalmer explains what the body experiences under these extreme conditions.
Dr. Ken Kamler, a microsurgeon and expert on practicing medicine under extreme conditions, says that as Nyad swims, her body will first turn to glucose for energy. Once her body burns through that available sugar, it will next start burning body fat as fuel, and finally turn to protein once her fat stores are exhausted. Once her body starts burning protein for energy, he says, she will be in a race to hit Key West before her body destroys muscle tissue.
Diana has also attempted “the cold water swim across Lake Ontario, during which she passed out.” (espn.go.com) For such situations, there will be a physician on board the 75-foot Bellisimo, one of two boats traveling along side of Diana. Dr. Michael Broder will watch “Nyad’s hydration and nutrition and to tend to any bites or stings from jellyfish, Portuguese man-of-war and other sea creatures. The navigator will ensure Nyad is swimming in the right direction and guiding her to avoid detrimental ocean currents.” (espn.go.com)