SAN DIEGO, September 2, 2013 – Mother Nature was rooting for “Xtreme Dream” endurance swimmer Diana Nyad this time.
On her fifth attempt to swim the 103 miles from Cuba to Florida, Diana Nyad made the dream come true. She successfully made it to the shore of Smathers Beach, Key West, Florida, shortly before 2 p.m. Eastern Time. Several hundred cheering supporters were on the beach bringing her home with their enthusiasm.
Nyad was determined to walk on her own to the shore, and she did so before falling into the waiting arms of her team as they embraced the spent swimmer. She was placed on a stretcher and briefly received medical treatment including an IV. She appeared sunburned with swollen lips and face, but otherwise in good condition.
Once she gathered herself, Nyad addressed her supporters. “I have three messages. One is, you should never, ever give up. Two is, you never are too old to chase your dreams. Three is, it looks like it’s a solitary sport but it takes a team.”
Nyad was then taken to an area hospital for a full medical check as a precaution.
A few minutes after her successful arrival in Florida, President Obama tweeted: “Congratualtions to @DianaNyad. Never give up on your dreams.”
Her team posted the following message on her Facebook page: “Our #FearlessNyad has at long last achieved her #XtremeDream and reached #TheOtherShore . An historic moment that proves #DreamsDoComeTrue.”
Nyad ended up officially swimming 110 miles total distance in 52 hours, 54 minutes, and 18.6 seconds, shattering every distance swimming record imaginable for swimming in open water without a shark cage. She is the very first person to make the crossing without a shark cage. It is all the more remarkable because Nyad is 64 years old. She made her first attempt 35 years ago.
According to the blog on her website DianaNyad.com, Nyad called all her support team boats together and treaded water before swimming the last two miles, almost 50 hours into the swim. She wanted to give them a message.
“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 … So let’s get going so we can have a whopping party. Thank you, all of you, thank you for your generosity.”
The challenges that stalled Nyad’s previous efforts were largely absent to make this swim feasible. Storms stayed out of Nyad’s path. The deadly stinging jellyfish that have tortured Nyad on previous attempts to set this record didn’t made an appearance.
A brief scare at 11 p.m. Eastern Time Sunday as a thunderstorm quickly moved through the area quickly passed by, with Nyad continuing to swim strongly. The crew remained vigilent watching for jellyfish, which they were concerend could become more plentiful in the shallower, warmer waters approaching Florida.
As of 1 a.m. Eastern Time, Nyad’s support team reported with excitement that she was less than 17 miles from Key West, Florida. The crew was so close they were starting to receive text messages, and said they could see the glow of lights from the Florida coast.
Nyad continued to fight nausea, and reported hallucinations overnight. She reported feeling cold, and kept moving rather than resting to maintain her temperature. But she was also joking with crew members. According to reports posted on her website and Facebook page, Nyad’s speech was difficult to understand because her tongue was swollen. Onboard physicians were concerned and administered medication to help reduce the swelling, but did not otherwise intervene. Nyad was able to overcome this problem to the end.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She writes on professional cycling and covers the Sweet Science for Communities, along with other news in the sports world. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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