PASADENA ( — 64-year old Diana Nyad made headlines this week when she became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage.

Nyad credits the success of her 100-mile record swim, in part, to a mask that she wore that prevented jellyfish from stinging her in the face.

The mask, created at Aesthetics Prosthetics Inc. in Pasadena, is made of silicon, and was developed to protect her from what she expected would be her biggest threat in the water.

“The only thing you can probably die from are the Box Jellyfish,” Nyad said.

Stefan Knauss, the man who created the mask, said it was developed with the intention of protecting her mouth, among other parts of her face.

“The essential criteria was, it had to protect from any sort of ocean organism getting past the barrier,” Knauss said.

Nyad previously attempted the swim in 2011, but failed, as a result of the venomous jellyfish penetrating and stinging her lips.

“The biggest challenge was the part where it had to be flexible enough for her to open and close her mouth without exhausting her jaw,” Knauss said.

While Nyad refers to Knauss as a “genius”, the prosthetist refuses to take credit for the success of the record swim.

“Every stroke that she did was hers,” Knauss said. “We worked for a year and a half together on something, and I’m glad to be able to participate in that.”



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