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Grandma begins 103-mile swim from Cuba to Florida

British-Australian swimmer Penny Palfrey swims from 'La Marina Hemingway', Cuba, on June 29, with destination Florida, USA. Palfrey, 49, tries to swim across the Strait of Florida, without being protected by a shark cage in 40 to 50 hours.Str / EPA

British-Australian swimmer Penny Palfrey smiles as she is flashed a thumbs up at the start of her bid to complete a record swim from Cuba to Florida, in Havana, Cuba, on June 29. Palfrey aims to be the first woman to swim the Straits of Florida without the aid of a shark cage. Instead she's relying on equipment that surrounds her with an electrical field to deter the predators.Ramon Espinosa / AP

Reuters -- Marathon swimmer Penny Palfrey, a 49-year-old grandmother, dove into the clear waters of the Florida Straits on Friday to try to break her own world record by swimming 103 miles from Cuba to the United States without a shark cage.

With the just-risen sun casting an orange glow in the eastern sky, Palfrey dove into the calm sea from a rocky point at Havana's Hemingway Marina, then stroked methodically away as a handful of spectators looked on.

"Beautiful sea, beautiful sunrise, it's a lovely morning in Cuba," the compact, muscular Palfrey told reporters just before entering the water.

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