Diana Nyad – First person to swim to Florida from Cuba without shark cage at age 64

On the morning of August 31, 2013, Diana Nyad began her fifth attempt to swim from Havana, Cuba to Florida, a distance of about 110 miles (177 kilometers), accompanied by a 35-person support team, swimming without a shark cage but protected from jellyfish by a silicone mask, a full bodysuit, gloves and booties.

Diana Nyad is an American author, journalist, motivational speaker, and world record long-distance swimmer. In 2013 at age 64 she became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida, swimming from Havana to Key West.

Before reaching Florida, Nyad broke Penny Palfrey’s 2012 distance record for the Cuba to Florida swim, putting Nyad closer to Key West than anyone swimming without a shark cage. At approximately 1:55 pm EDT on September 2, 2013, Nyad emerged onto the beach in Key West, about 53 hours after she began her journey.

Long-distance swimming is distinguished from ordinary swimming in that the distances involved are longer than are typically swum in pool competitions. When a given swim calls more on endurance than on outright speed, it is the more likely to be considered a long-distance swim.

President Barack Obama was among a flurry of public officials and celebrities who tweeted congratulations. Obama’s tweet echoed the sentiment Nyad has repeated many times when faced with defeat: “Never give up on your dreams.”

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