On Sept. 2, 2013, marathon swimmer Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Havana, Cuba, to Key West, Florida, without a shark cage.
Nyad was 64 when she completed a dream 35 years in the making, swimming 110 miles through shark and jellyfish-infested waters of the Straits of Florida in approximately 53 hours.
The swimmer had already attempted the trek four times, the first at age 28 in 1978, twice in 2011, and once in 2012.
Her trip was cut short each time when mother nature threw unexpected twists, like dangerous swells, jellyfish stings, and storms.
By the time 2013 rolled around, Nyad had decided this would be her last attempt. So she jumped in the water at the Havana Yacht Club at 8:59 a.m. on Aug. 31, shouting, “Courage!” according to a Sept. 2, 2013, article from The Guardian, and then walked onto a Florida beach at roughly 2 p.m. local time on Sept. 2 to cheers and shouts of joy.
According to CNN, Nyad was greeted by a crowd of supporters who cheered and held signs to celebrate her record-breaking swim. Many supporters were wading in the water or in kayaks or standing along the shoreline as the swimmer stumbled on shore.
“I have three messages: one is we should never ever give up; two is you are never too old to chase your dreams; and three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team,” said Nyad to a group of waiting news crews according to the BBC before being led to an ambulance for medical treatment.
The doctor accompanying her told news sources later that she was suffering from dehydration, swelling, and sunburn but would make a full recovery.
Nyad only stopped swimming during breaks for food or water, which were doled out through a tube from her 35-person support team.
The support boat forged ahead, clearing the path of box jellyfish, which stopped her last swim, and trailing a line behind it for Nyad to follow to ensure she stayed on course through the swim.
About two miles off the shore of Florida, Nyad stopped long enough to thank her team and acknowledge their support while taking a moment to savor the completion of a life-long dream.
“I am about to swim my last two miles in the ocean,” said Nyad in a blog post on her website. “This is a lifelong dream of mine, and I’m very, very glad to be with you.”
Nyad has worked as a sports broadcaster and journalist for National Public Radio, ABC’S Wide World of Sports, and other publications.
She currently works as a public speaker and has published a memoir, “Find a Way,” detailing her story of breaking the record.