America's Diana Nyad, 64, sets record with Cuba-to-Florida swim

Mon Sep 2, 2013 6:14pm EDT
 
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By Michael Haskins

KEY WEST, Florida (Reuters) - American 64-year-old long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad on Monday became the first person to swim across the Florida Straits from Cuba without a shark cage, succeeding on her fifth attempt at the feat.

Her face sunburned and lips swollen, with barely enough energy to speak, Nyad waded ashore at Key West after a 53-hour swim and delivered a simple message to onlookers: "We should never, ever give up .... You never are too old to chase your dreams."

In an inspiration to Baby Boomers everywhere, Nyad completed the estimated 110-mile (177-km) journey after departing from Havana on Saturday morning. She set a record for the longest ocean swim without a shark cage or flippers, according to her crew.

She was met by crowds in Key West who surrounded her, snapping photos, as they enjoyed sunny beach weather on the annual Labor Day holiday.

Helpers were waiting to give her medical treatment and immediately placed her on a stretcher and hydrated her with an IV before she was taken to a hospital.

The iron-willed Nyad had been trying to achieve the crossing for 35 years, describing it on her website as her "Xtreme Dream," and seemed determined to prove The Beatles were right that there is plenty to live for "when I'm 64."

"Diana shows that at any age you can do whatever you want," said Nancy Jordan, 57, a volunteer pilot on one of Nyad's support vessels. "That's what she set out to show; don't ever give up your dream."

Dave Magmone, whose boat was used to prepare Nyad's meals, said, "She has a mental and physical strength like no one I have ever known. She is an example for all people, regardless of their age."   Continued...

 
U.S. long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad , 64, walks to dry sand, completing her swim from Cuba as she arrives in Key West, Florida, September 2, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Innerarity