Diana Nyad A Cuba To Florida Pioneer At Last
On her fifth attempt spanning 35 years, long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad achieved her lifetime ambition to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.
Nyad came on shore at Florida’s Key West shortly before 2pm local time. She had been in the water for about 52 hours but managed to walk on to the beach without a helping hand. An achievement in itself.
On the way to meeting her destiny and a couple of miles out from shore, Nyad, 64, told her support team: ”I am about to swim my last two miles in the ocean. This is a lifelong dream of mine and I’m very, very glad to be with you. 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.”
Nyad first attempted the crossing in 1978, aged 28 and swimming in a shark cage, She was blown off course and gave up after about 76 miles. On her most recent, fourth, attempt, in August 2011, the battle was called off after she was stung in two separate attacks by box jellyfish, the deadly venom from which has claimed more human lives in the past 50 years than the bites of sharks.
On her latest attempt, she started out at 8.59am on Saturday, taking the plunge at the Marina Hemingway in Cuba to a cry of: “Courage!” She swam freestyle with nutrition ‘breaks’ every 40 minutes or so. She wore a specially designed anti-jellyfish suit and used a cream called Sting Stopper on her face.
After about 46 hours in the water, Nyad was told by her team that a change in the current meant that her final stretch would take longer to complete than expected. She was 6.5 miles off coast – and exhausted.
But the Everest gene proved tougher than tiredness.
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