Diana Nyad, 64-Year-Old U.S. Swimmer, Completes Record-Breaking Cuba-to-Florida Swim

A 64-year-old long-distance swimmer became the first person to swim across the Florida Straits from Cuba without a shark cage.

A long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, 64, on Monday became the first person who crossed the distancet between the Florida Straits from Cuba without using any shark cage, succeeding on her fifth attempt. Photo: AP/YouTube

The 64-year-old arrived at Key West after a 53-hour swim and delivered a simple message to those who supported her on the bank: “We should never, ever give up …. You never are too old to chase your dreams.”

The American covered about 110-mile (177-km) journey after departing from Havana on Saturday. Nyad has set a world record for the longest ocean swim without a shark cage or flippers.

On the other side her supporters and helpers were waiting to provide her necessary medical treatment and immediately placed her on a stretcher and hydrated her with an IV before she was delivered to hospital.

For 35 years the American had been trying to do what she did on Monday, 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 the swimmer’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.”

In recent years people of a certain age has seemed to be inspired for breaking records and snagging headlines, Reuters writes.

Last year, Colorado Rockies player Jamie Moyer, 50, became the oldest pitcher in Major League Baseball history to win a game.

Ed Whitlock, 82, set a new 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 reporters before a previous failed attempt to making the crossing in 2011.

Nyad’s supporters explained that her fifth attempt to cross the ocean had become successful due to several key factors,such as calm seas, the lack of jellyfish and favorable currents in the powerful Gulf Stream that flows eastwards through the Florida Straits.

“You can’t do the swim unless you have three things – the determination, the weather and the cooperation of the Gulf Stream,” said Ron Bartlett, her navigator.

The record breaker revealed to reporters that this crossing has become the final one, this time equipped with a protective silicone mask as well as special costume aimed to protect the marathon swimmer from box jellyfish that forced her to end one of two attempted crossings last year.

With Key West in her sights yesterday, the 64-year-old halted briefly about 2 miles offshore to thank her support team.

“This is a lifelong dream of mine and I’m very, very glad to be with you,” she said. “So let’s get going so we can have a whopping party.”

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