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Meet five thrill-seeking women breaking world records

By Charlotte Lytton, for CNN
updated 11:21 AM EDT, Wed September 4, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Diana Nyad completed a landmark swim from Cuba to the Florida Straits this week
  • The 64-year-old had made five attempts to finish the trip since 1978
  • CNN looks at five women who have broken world records in extreme sports

Editor's note: Leading Women connects you to extraordinary women of our time. Each month, we meet two women at the top of their field, exploring their careers, lives and ideas.

(CNN) -- When it comes to living on the edge, there are some women who have the tenacious spirit to conquer all.

Whether it's scaling the world's highest peaks or becoming the first person to cross a dangerous ocean stretch, these extreme sportswomen have smashed records around the globe thanks to their fearless sense of determination.

On the heels of Diana Nyad's record breaking swim, CNN takes a look at five sports stars who have reached the very top of their game.

Diana Nyad

After 35 years and five attempts at swimming from Cuba to Florida, 64-year-old Diana Nyad has finally made her name as the first person to cross the treacherous Straits. Wearing a mask to protect her from the trip halting jellyfish bites that plagued her last effort, the endurance swimmer is the only person to complete the 177 km (100 m) journey without either a wetsuit or a shark cage. Describing her achievement as 'a lifelong dream,' Nyad, who made her first attempt to cross the waters in 1978, was also congratulated by President Obama via Twitter.

Read more: Nyad's next challenge will be a 48 hour swim in New York City

Edurne Pasaban

As a keen young mountaineer, Edurne Pasaban made her hobby into a record breaking profession by becoming the world's first woman to climb all 14 peaks over 8,000 meters. The 44-year-old Spaniard spent nine years working her way to the top of the world's biggest summits before completing her quest in 2010, and was named as National Geographic's Adventurer of the Year in 2011. With the likes of Everest, K2 and Kangchenjunga under her belt, Pasaban has seen some of the world's most beautiful landscapes from a viewpoint only reached by a select few.

Juliana Buhring

Guinness World record holder Juliana Buhring is the first and fastest woman to cycle the globe. Her epic journey took her across four continents and 19 countries in 152 days, racking up 29,065 km (18,060 miles) in the process. The intrepid cyclist was also the sole female competitor in an unsupported race from London to Istanbul in 2013, further demonstrating her record smashing prowess.

Watch: Juliana Buhring's tough moment

Felicity Aston

Adventurer Felicity Aston became the first woman to ski across Antarctica in 2012 -- a feat she achieved without the use of either kites or parasails. Covering 1744 km (1083 miles) in 59 days, Aston's solo expedition made a change from her group ventures, which have seen her lead teams across the likes of Greenland and the South Pole. Her upcoming mission will see her and two fellow explorers cross northern Europe and Siberia to reach the Pole of Cold -- a three month trip that will cover a whopping 30,000 km (18,641 miles).

Read more: Adventurers recreate Antarctic survival story

Amber Bourke

Australian free diving champion Amber Bourke only discovered the sport a few years ago -- and yet she has already broken the women's world record, just two years after she began competing. Diving to victory at the championships in Belgrade, Serbia, the former synchronized swimmer set a personal best at 164 m -- although her achievement was bettered just moments later by two fellow competitors. Able to hold her breath underwater for five minutes, Bourke has also beaten several national records in her home country.

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