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Woman, 64, sets record with Cuba-to-Florida swim

Agencies | Updated: 2013-09-03 08:22

 

Woman, 64, sets record with Cuba-to-Florida swim

Diana Nyad, positioned about than two miles off Key West, Florida in this September 2, 2013 handout photo, swims towards the completion of her 111-mile trek from Cuba to the Florida Keys. Nyad, 64, became the first swimmer to cross the Florida Straits without the security of a shark cage. [Photo/Agencies]

KEY WEST, Florida - 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."

Women and men of a certain age have been inspired in recent years by a wave of older athletes breaking records and snagging headlines.

Last year, then Colorado Rockies player Jamie Moyer, now 50, became the oldest pitcher in Major League Baseball history to win a game. Canadian Ed Whitlock, now 82, shattered records when he ran the 2012 Toronto Marathon in 3 hours 30 minutes. And Dana Torres in 2008 at age 41 became the oldest-ever American female swimmer to win an Olympic medal.

"I think this is the prime. When one reaches this age, you still have a body that's strong but now you have a better mind," Nyad told CNN before a previous failed attempt to making the crossing in 2011.

   

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