Champion long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad fulfilled a long-time dream on Monday. The 64-year-old completed the 103-mile historic swim from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Fla.
She is the first person to make the swim without a shark cage.
Nyad—who in 1979 became known as one of the world’s best endurance swimmers after completing a 102.5 mile swim from the Bahamas to the Florida coast— completed the extraordinary journey just before 11 a.m. PST, in about 53 hours.
She first attempted the swim 35 years ago but was unsuccessful. Monday’s swim was her fifth and last attempt.
Just a few months ago, Nyad made her way to the desert.
She completed a 24-hour swim at the Palm Springs Swim Center in April, in honor of the victims of the Boston bombings.
The event was in preparation of a 48-hour swim that Nyad would complete in New York City in May.
“Except for maybe a half hour, for 24 hours I felt pretty damn good,” she told The Desert Sun after her swim in Palm Springs.
“Gosh, I wonder what 48 (hours) is going to be like.”
Though on Monday Nyad completed the swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage, she wore a silicon mask and a protective suit to fend off deadly box jellyfish, which cut her last attempt short last year.
She was surrounded by about 40 members of her entourage, faithful friends that accompany her on all of her adventures.
They also kept her social media accounts active, tweeting and blogging as Nyad swam.
“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,” she said Monday morning on her blog.
Nyad’s speech became slurred as she neared the coast and she was reported to have a swollen throat from being in salt water for so long. The prosthetic mask she wore also made it difficult to breathe.
But as Nyad approached the shore at Smathers Beach with about 10 boats at her side, thousands of fans awaited her arrival.