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Diane Nyad Completes Historic Cuba To Florida Swim

By: CBS News Email
By: CBS News Email

In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, swimmer Diana Nyad talks with her crew less than two miles off Key West, Fla., Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. Nyad, 64, is poised to be the first swimmer to cross the Florida Straits from Cuba to the Florida Keys without the security of a shark cage. (AP Photo/Florida Keys News Bureau, Andy Newman)

In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, swimmer Diana Nyad talks with her crew less than two miles off Key West, Fla., Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. Nyad, 64, is poised to be the first swimmer to cross the Florida Straits from Cuba to the Florida Keys without the security of a shark cage. (AP Photo/Florida Keys News Bureau, Andy Newman)

CBS News Web Copy

KEY WEST, Florida U.S. endurance swimmer Diana Nyad's completed a historic Havana-Key West swim on her fifth attempt, 35 years after her first try.

The 64-year-old Nyad stepped ashore in Key West on Monday just before 2 p.m. EDT, about 53 hours after she began her swim in Havana on Saturday.

Nyad's journey began Saturday morning when she jumped from the seawall of the Hemingway Marina into the warm waters off Havana. She has been swimming the Florida Strait ever since, stopping from time to time for nourishment.

Around 11 a.m. on Monday, mere miles from Florida, Nyad called her support boats over and said she had "bad abrasions" in her mouth from her jellyfish-protection mask, according to her team.

While treading water, she said: "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 is trying to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. She says this will be her final try. Nyad recently turned 64.

In an online update posted before dawn Monday, her team said "Diana is on course to swim 112 statute miles. This is 35 more miles than anyone has ever swam."

Her team also claimed that a cruise ship decided to "make way" for her. They posted on Facebook Sunday afternoon that she had "swum farther north than the farthest end point of any of her previous attempts."

On her blog, her medical team reported "Diana's tongue and lips are swollen causing her speech to be slurred. (Her doctors) are concerned about Diana's airways, but have not intervened."

With about 6.5 miles to go, Nyad was contacted by her support team, who were concerned she was cold and in pain. According to her team, she rebuffed offers to replace her swim cap, which fell off during the night, and instead kept swimming.

The 64-year-old has become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. It's her fourth attempt in the last three years. She tried three times in 2011 and 2012. Her first attempt was in 1978.

Most of Nyad's previous attempts were derailed by run-ins with box jellyfish.

On this attempt, she was wearing a full body suit and custom face mask to protect against the venomous stings, reports CBS News' Elaine Quijano - though her team blogged late Sunday night that she hadn't used the mask to that point.

As of late morning on Monday, Nyad's team had only one reported sighting of box jellyfish, although it appeared to have not had any tentacles.

Nyad has said, "The box jellyfish takes you into an area of what I'd call science fiction. You feel like you've been dipped in hot burning oil. You burst into flames."

Australian Susie Maroney successfully swam the Strait in 1997 with a shark cage, which besides protection from the predators, has a drafting effect that pulls a swimmer along.

In 2012, Australian Penny Palfrey swam 79 miles toward Florida without a cage before strong currents forced her to abandon the attempt. This June, her countrywoman Chloe McCardel made it 11 hours and 14 miles before jellyfish stings ended her bid.

In 1978, Walter Poenisch, an Ohio baker, claimed to have made the swim using flippers and a snorkel. Critics say there was insufficient independent documentation to verify his claim.

Nyad first came to national attention in 1975 when she swam the 28 miles around the island of Manhattan in just under eight hours. In 1979 she swam the 102 miles from North Bimini, Bahamas, to Juno Beach, Fla., in 27.5 hours.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Updated 9:20 a.m. ET

KEY WEST, Florida U.S. endurance swimmer Diana Nyad's representatives say she's less than 5 miles from Florida in her latest attempt to swim there from Cuba.

Nyad is trying to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. She says this will be her final try. Nyad recently turned 64.

In an online update posted before dawn Monday, her team said "Diana is on course to swim 112 statute miles. This is 35 more miles than anyone has ever swam."

Her team also claimed that a cruise ship decided to "make way" for her. They posted on Facebook Sunday afternoon that she had "swum farther north than the farthest end point of any of her previous attempts."

On her blog, her medical team reported "Diana's tongue and lips are swollen causing her speech to be slurred. (Her doctors) are concerned about Diana's airways, but have not intervened."

With about 6.5 miles to go, Nyad was contacted by her support team, who were concerned she was cold and in pain. According to her team, she rebuffed offers to replace her swim cap, which fell off during the night, and instead kept swimming.

The 64-year-old is trying to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. It's her fourth attempt in the last three years. She tried three times in 2011 and 2012.

Most of Nyad's previous attempts were derailed by run-ins with box jellyfish.

On this attempt, she was wearing a full body suit and custom face mask to protect against the venomous stings, reports CBS News' Elaine Quijano - though her team blogged late Sunday night that she hadn't used the mask to that point.

Nyad has said, "The box jellyfish takes you into an area of what I'd call science fiction. You feel like you've been dipped in hot burning oil. You burst into flames."

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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