Diana Nyad completes historic swim

NEED TO KNOW
  • Nyad swam ashore Monday afternoon after more than 50 hours at sea making the trek from Cuba to Florida
  • The 64-year-old was on her fifth and final attempt
  • 'This is a lifelong dream of mine,' she told her team
Diana Nyad is first to swim Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.
Diana Nyad waves before jumping into the water in Havana, Cuba on August 31, 2013.

Extreme dreams: Women who went to great lengths

Extreme dreams: Women who went to great lengths

Tonight, Dr. Sanjay Gupta sits down with Diana Nyad to discuss her amazing swim from Cuba to Florida. Two chances to watch Diana Nyad: XTREME DREAM COME TRUE, tonight 6 &10 p.m. ET on HLN.

It was a dream 35 years in the making for Diana Nyad, an endurance swimmer who wanted to complete the 103-mile trek from Cuba to Key West, Florida.

After more than 50 hours and 110 miles, Nyad swam onto Key West's Smathers Beach on Monday afternoon, pumping her first. This was her fifth -- and what she called final -- attempt.

"I got three messages," Nyad said once she arrived on shore. "One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dreams. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport but it’s a team."

At 64 years old, Nyad has now become the first person to make the Cuba-to-Florida swim without a shark cage. She completed a similar distance in 1979, setting the world record for open water swimming for her 102-mile journey between the Bahamas and Florida.

But the Cuba-to-Florida swim has eluded Nyad since she made her first attempt, and failed, in 1978 at the age of 28. She revived her dream again at the age of 60 and has made three more failed attempts since then.

What made this particular route so challenging is that Nyad not only had to battle her own body and mind, but also strong currents, storms and potentially deadly encounters with box jellyfish, which have thwarted previous attempts.

Nyad had been wearing a jellyfish protection suit and a special mask and cream to prevent jellyfish stings to her face and tongue.

As she approached the last two miles of her swim, Nyad stopped the boats that follow her and had them circle around.

“This is a lifelong dream of mine and I'm very, very glad to be with you,” Nyad told everybody, according to her website. “Some on the team are the most intimate friends of my life and some of you I've just met. But I'll tell you something, you're a special group. You pulled through; you are pros and have a great heart. So let's get going so we can have a whopping party."

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