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Student Swims For 16 Hours To Reach Safety

An American college student has managed to swim to safety after surviving being stranded at sea for 16 hours.

Heather Barnes, from southern New Jersey, headed out at 4am last Friday to collect coral samples off Honduras for a project she was doing at New College of Florida.

But she started to develop cramp and was pushed out to sea.

Writing on her Facebook page, Ms Barnes said she realised she would have to try and swim if she was to reach dry land.

"I accepted that maybe I won't make it, but then all of a sudden ... 'I'm here. I have to keep going'," she told WPVI-TV in Philadelphia.

She eventually made it to the shore, where two people gave her water and used a kayak to take her back to the resort on the islands of Cayos Cochinos where she was staying.

The 20-year-old aspiring marine biologist is now back in Florida recovering from severe sunburn and jellyfish stings.

Her mother, Jennifer Dukelow, from Woodbury, said she prayed until her daughter called to say she was safe late on Friday.