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On September 2, 2013, 64-year-old Diana Nyad becomes the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage for protection. Nyad completed the 110-mile swim from Havana to Key West, through the jellyfish-and shark-infested waters of the Straits of Florida, in approximately 53 hours.
Born on August 22, 1949, in New York City, and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nyad was a champion swimmer in high school. In 1975, two years after graduating from Lake Forest College in Illinois, she made headlines by swimming the 28 miles around the island of Manhattan in a little less than 8 hours. In 1978, she attempted her first swim from Havana to Key West; however, dangerous swells and strong currents that pushed her off course forced her out of the water after about 42 hours. The following year, she set a record for swimming the 102 miles from North Bimini, Bahamas, to Juno Beach, Florida, a feat she accomplished in 27.5 hours. Afterward, she retired from endurance swimming and worked as a journalist and motivational speaker.
After three decades away from marathon swimming, Nyad decided to make another try at swimming from Cuba to Florida. She attempted the journey in August 2011, but had to end it after about 28 hours in the water, due to an extended asthma attack. Her third attempt, the following month, had to be aborted after about 41 hours due to venomous jellyfish stings. Nyad made a fourth bid in August 2012, but once again was forced to stop before reaching Key West due to storms and jellyfish stings.
Nyad began her fifth attempt at Cuba to Florida on the morning of August 31, 2013. Keeping on course by following a line dragged in the water by a support boat, she hummed her favorite songs in her head to help concentrate. For part of the journey, she wore a bodysuit, gloves, booties and a special mask to protect her from jellyfish. However, the mask caused her to take in a lot of salt water, which made her vomit throughout much of the swim. Nonetheless, on September 2, after nearly 53 hours in the open water, the 64-year-old successfully made it to Key West, where she staggered ashore onto Smathers Beach and was greeted by a crowd of supporters.
A month after her historic achievement, Nyad completed a 48-hour swim in an outdoor pool set up in midtown Manhattan. The event was a fundraiser for victims of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy.
Diana Nyad makes history swimming from Cuba to Florida
Long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad made history Monday, becoming the first person to swim the 110 treacherous miles from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage — at the age of 64.
Crowds of fans, cheering and blowing conch shells, waded into the water to greet a sunburned Nyad as she approached the shoreline of Key West just before 2 p.m. with a Coast Guard escort after nearly 53 hours in the Florida Strait.
"I'm beaming with pride," Nyad told NBC News as supporters mobbed her stretcher before she was taken by ambulance to a hospital for evaluation.
"Never give up," she told a well-wisher, according to NBC Miami.
This was Nyad’s fifth try since 1978 — and she had a few strokes of luck: favorable currents and fewer of the poisonous jellyfish that helped doom an earlier attempt, according to updates from her website and Twitter feeds.
The swim was not without extreme challenges, however.
Nyad was so cold on Sunday night that her handlers didn’t stop to feed her, figuring she would stay warmer if she kept going.
Her tongue and lips were swollen by sun and seawater, and she had abrasions in her mouth from a special silicone mask meant to keep the jellyfish at bay.
At two miles out, Nyad seemed to realize that she was on the cusp of success and she paused to thank assistants gathered on 10 boats.
"I am about to swim my last two miles in the ocean," she told her handlers as she closed in on Key West, according to the blog.
"This is a lifelong dream of mine and I'm very very glad to be with you," she added, praising her team. "So let's get going so we can have a whopping party."
Even President Obama, via Twitter, congratulated Nyad.
"Congratulations to @DianaNyad. Never give up on your dreams," the president's account posted, although it was not signed "-BO," which means he did not personally write it.
According to Nyad's Twitter, she officially spent 52 hours, 54 minutes, and 18.6 seconds swimming.
The Florida Strait has been conquered only once, by Australian Susie Maroney, who used a protective cage during a 1997 swim.
Just this past June, Australian Chloe McCardel abandoned an attempt after 11 hours when she was badly stung by a jellyfish.
Nyad — who swam around the island of Manhattan in 1975 and a from the Bahamas to Florida in 1979 — departed on Saturday morning and arrived a day earlier than original estimates.
Diana Nyad Makes History After Swimming from Cuba to Florida!
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This milestone comes after four earlier attempts ended in injuries and dehydration
(CNN) – Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad completed a 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida, arriving in Key West more than 48 hours after leaving.
Nyad made history Monday on her fifth attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida.
At age 64, she was determined to become the first in the world to swim from Cuba to Florida.
Sunday night, she broke the record for distance, swimming farther than anyone without a shark cage or protection from the elements.
She’d been swimming for more than 45 hours and said this fifth attempt will be her last.
“There’s a fine line between having the grace to see that things are bigger than you are and to let your ego go, and there’s another edge over that fine line where you don’t want to ever, ever give up, and I’m still at that place,” Nyad said.
This is what she was up against: a grueling 103-mile swim estimated to take 80 hours in shark-infested waters between Havana, Cuba, and Key West, FL.
And then, there are box jellyfish.
Their venom is among the deadliest in the world, attacking the heart, nervous system, and skin cells.
It’s the jellyfish that thwarted her previous attempts, so this time, she’s using a custom-made silicone mask to protect her face and lips from jellyfish stings, but it makes it tougher to breathe.
She first attempted the treacherous swim in 1978, when she was 28-years-old.
Thirty-one years passed before she attempted it again – twice in 2011 and again last year.
Diana Nyad Record: How Does the Body Endure Long Swims?
An exercise scientist explains what the 64-year-old athlete went through.
Diana Nyad's 110-mile (177-kilometer) swim from Cuba to Florida has made waves, both for breaking a record and for the tenacity of the 64-year-old athlete, who succeeded on her fifth attempt over three decades.
Nyad, a long-distance swimmer from Los Angeles, reached Key West on Monday nearly 53 hours after leaving Cuba, becoming the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a protective cage. (Also see "Greatest Swims: Five Epic Swims in the Wake of Nyad's Feat.")
But it was no day at the beach: The swimmer battled severe winds and vomited several times after swallowing too much seawater. "It was rough stuff," she told the Associated Press.
So how does a body—especially a 64-year-old one—endure such a task? We talked to Benjamin Levine, a sports cardiologist who has studied extraordinary endurance athletes he is also the director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, a research collaboration between UT Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.
What kind of physical shape do you need to be in to do this?
These kinds of extraordinary endurance activities are done at relatively low intensity. For example, if she went 110 miles (177 kilometers) in 53 hours, that's about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) an hour, or a slow walk. She's not sprinting. So of course she needs to have extraordinary fitness, but when I say fitness I don't mean the kind [in which] you would see someone winning a gold medal in the 5,000 meters or even the marathon. (Explore a human-body interactive.)
She doesn't have to have a huge engine she has to have a sustainable engine. She has to be extremely efficient—swimming is notoriously an inefficient sport. She's going to be doing this at a steady state, so her heart rate won't be high.
What's going on in the body during a long-distance swim?
When you stand, gravity is sucking blood into your feet, and your heart is probably half as full as when you're lying down. When you immerse someone in water, it reverses the pressure and a lot of blood rushes into the heart. That's good because the heart is full and can pump plenty of blood, but there may be some cardiac fatigue as well—the heart itself can get tired. You have to establish a rhythm. (Read "Healing the Heart" in National Geographic magazine.)
Water is a good conductor of heat, so during a long-duration swim, water is sucking heat out of you. Unless you generate enough heat, you can get quickly hypothermic—that would be another big problem, maintaining body temperature. Having a suit [as Nyad did] helps maintain body temperature. One of the reasons she didn't stop is [because] she would get cold.
What are the strains on the body?
The biggest limitations are musculoskeletal overuse, fuel, and concentration. You're burning mostly fat as a fuel—if you start to push faster, you'll burn carbohydrates and get a lot more muscle fatigue. So you'll need enough caloric reserves and to take in enough calories. You also need to avoid muscular overuse and strain. Your muscles get tired because of the repetitive contraction.
Other limitations may be mental. The repetitive motion and the will to concentrate—[it's hard] to sustain that without sleep.
Which muscles are working the hardest?
Arm muscles. That's why you need to be an extremely efficient swimmer—the small muscle mass of arms fatigues a lot more quickly than the large muscles of the back.
Do you think this is remarkable for a 64-year-old?
This kind of ultra-endurance event is one which an older person might be able to do—there's not a lot of pounding [on the joints]. [Nyad] has maintained her fitness, been active and fit for most of her life, so that [she may] have a cardiovascular system as healthy as a 40-year-old's.
What Diana has shown us over the years is she's an extraordinary endurance swimmer. She has the mental toughness and discipline—maybe the mental toughness and discipline that a younger person doesn't have.
Diana has said that this is proof that people should do anything they set their minds to.
Not always. Setting a goal and working toward a goal is often as important as achieving that final outcome. Even if Diana had failed to reach Florida, we would still view her as one of the most extraordinary ultra-endurance athletes. Sometimes we count that end result too much—and sometimes people just can't do it.
Anything else you want our readers to know?
Fitness and regular physical activity is part of your personal hygiene. I hope your readership will look at this and not say, "I can't do this I'm going to sit around and watch [television] all day." I hope that they'll go outdoors and challenge themselves and become fit—and you can do that without swimming from Cuba to Florida.
Nyad’s team said her attempt benefited from several key factors, including calm seas, the surprising lack of jellyfish and favorable currents in the powerful Gulf Stream that flows eastwards through the Florida Straits.
Ron Bartlett, her navigator, said the crew encountered only one minor squall and one box jellyfish sighting.
The marathon swimmer had said this would be her final attempt, this time equipped with the mask as well as a body suit to better protect her from box jellyfish that forced her to end one of two attempted crossings last year.
A team of ocean kayakers and divers accompanied Nyad on her journey, dragging an electronic device in the water that emitted a current to repel sharks.
Nyad has spent much of her life in the water. She described in a 2011 YouTube documentary how her father told her when she was a young girl that she was destined to swim, noting her last name is derived from the Greek word for water nymphs or female swimmers.
Born in New York, the multilingual Nyad was raised in south Florida by a French mother and Greek-Egyptian stepfather. She swam six hours a day as a 12-year-old.
She retired after successfully completing a swim from Bimini in the Bahamas to Florida in 1979, ending a long-distance career that set several records including one in 1975 for circling Manhattan in less than eight hours.
She went on to a career in sports journalism and fitness, and has expressed a lifelong fascination with Cuba.
The Florida Straits had been conquered twice previously, both times with the aid of a protective cage. The last time, in 1997, the cage glided on ocean currents and enabled Australian Susie Maroney, 22, to make the journey in just 25 hours.
Nyad made her first attempt at the crossing aged 28 in 1978, when she gave up after covering 76 miles (122 km) in 42 hours with the aid of a shark cage.
With Key West in her sights on Monday, Nyad halted briefly about 2 miles (3 km) 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, according to her website. “So let’s get going so we can have a whopping party.” (Additional reporting by Marc Frank in Havana and Barbara Goldberg in New York Writing by David Adams Editing by Marguerita Choy, Cynthia Osterman and Mohammad Zargham)
Diana Nyad, 64, makes record swim from Cuba to Florida - HISTORY
Diana Nyad Makes History Swimming from Cuba to Florida
And even gets a shout-out from President Obama
On Diana Nyad's fifth attempt at swimming from Cuba to Florida—25 years after she first tried—Nyad, now 64, successfully reached Key West after more than 50 hours in the water.
Her 110-mile swim set numerous records, including the first Cuba-Florida crossing for a swimmer without use of a shark cage. In contrast to her previous journeys, Nyad enjoyed relatively moderate weather, good currents and a far smaller number of the dangerous box jellyfish.
"You're never too old to chase your dreams," she said to supporters and camera crews on the beach, before falling into the arms of her best friend and chief trainer, Bonnie Stoll.
Among the congratulations from Nyad's many followers who tracked her progress through the night via Twitter and her website was one superfan, President Obama (although it wasn't signed "-BO" so may mean he didn't personally write it).
Congratulations to @DianaNyad. Never give up on your dreams.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 2, 2013
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(CNN) — After more than 52 hours of swimming, Diana Nyad, 64, has made history, swimming from Cuba to Florida without a protective shark cage or the help of flippers.
Dozens of onlookers — some in kayaks and boats, others wading in the water or standing on shore — cheered her on as she wrapped up the swim.
This is the farthest she or anyone else has gone without a shark cage, and the wear on her body was showing Monday morning.
Around 7:30 a.m. ET Monday, she was slurring her speech because of a swollen tongue and lips, her support team reported on its website.
As the team called her around dawn for her first feeding since midnight, she took longer than normal to reach the support boat, the report said.
Though she slurred her speech, the words were understandable. Before resuming her swim-crawl to Key West, her team applied a “sting stopper” substance to her forehead and cheeks in the hopes of warding off jellyfish stings.
“Don’t get it on my nose or eyes,” she said, according to her website.
Nyad, who began the swim from Cuba on Saturday morning, may be in position to reach land between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET, the website said earlier Monday morning.
Jellyfish stings have helped thwart her attempts before, so divers are swimming ahead of her, collecting jellyfish and moving them out of Nyad’s path.
When instructed Monday morning to follow the path that’s been cleared for her, she flashed her sense of humor, replying: “I’ve never been able to follow it in my life,” according to the website.
Nyad’s home stretch followed an overnight in which she became so cold, the team didn’t stop her for feeding until first light “in the hopes that swimming would keep her warm,” the website said.
Every stroke she swims puts her deeper into record territory. On Sunday night she broke Penny Palfrey’s record for the farthest anyone has managed on the trek without a shark cage.
In 1997, Australian Susie Maroney completed the swim from within a shark cage. She was 22 at the time.
Nyad’s website reported the leaders of her five-boat support team were planning her final route into Key West, taking into account tides, currents, shipping lanes, reefs and “swarms of jellyfish.”
“Diana has stopped numerous times to tread water trying to restore herself,” Nyad’s navigator, John Bartlett, said in a website post at 5 a.m., 44 hours into the swim.
Nyad has been wearing a jellyfish protection suit, and also has available a special mask to prevent jellyfish stings to her tongue — a key factor in her failed attempt in August 2012.
Thunderstorms also helped thwart her last year.
The weather this weekend was much better until 11 p.m. Sunday, when the support team reported winds rose suddenly and a thunderstorm appeared headed toward Nyad’s path.
But just before 1 a.m. Monday, the team reported on Twitter: “Diana is swimming strong, everyone is safe, the winds are dying down, and we think we see the glow of Key West! ”
Bartlett wrote on her website earlier that a favorable Gulf Stream had helped her achieve an average speed of 2.2 miles per hour.
Bartlett said currents were “smaller but less predictable” as Nyad nears Florida.
Handler Bonnie Stoll wrote on the site Sunday that Nyad was in good spirits.
“The only concern is that she is throwing up everything she eats. She’s quite nauseous from sea salt, but that’s to be expected,” said Stoll. “We’re giving her enough calories and nutrition. We’re just going to keep feeding her, and we hope that some of it is going down. She’s not weak. Her stroke count hasn’t changed.”
Nyad set out from Havana at 8:59 a.m. Saturday with a crew of 35, including divers to watch for sharks.
The Los Angeles woman has said this is her final attempt. She said on her website that she wants to prove “it’s never too late to chase your dream.”
U.S. long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad is pictured before attempting to swim to Florida from Havana
By Michael Haskins KEY WEST, Florida (Reuters) - American 64-year-old long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad on Monday became the first person to swim across the Florida Straits from Cuba without a shark cage, succeeding on her fifth attempt at the feat. Her face sunburned and lips swollen, with barely enough energy to speak, Nyad waded ashore at Key West after a 53-hour swim and delivered a simple message to onlookers: "We should never, ever give up . You never are too old to chase your dreams." In an inspiration to Baby Boomers everywhere, Nyad completed the estimated 110-mile (177-km) journey after departing from Havana on Saturday morning. She set a record for the longest ocean swim without a shark cage or flippers, according to her crew. She was met by crowds in Key West who surrounded her, snapping photos, as they enjoyed sunny beach weather on the annual Labor Day holiday. Helpers were waiting to give her medical treatment and immediately placed her on a stretcher and hydrated her with an IV before she was taken to a hospital. The iron-willed Nyad had been trying to achieve the crossing for 35 years, 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 Nyad'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." Women and men of a certain age have been inspired in recent years by a wave of older athletes breaking records and snagging headlines. Last year, then Colorado Rockies player Jamie Moyer, now 50, became the oldest pitcher in Major League Baseball history to win a game. Canadian Ed Whitlock, now 82, shattered 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 CNN before a previous failed attempt to making the crossing in 2011. JELLYFISH, SHARKS Nyad's team said her fifth attempt at the Florida crossing benefited from several key factors, including calm seas, the surprising 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. Bartlett said the crew only encountered one minor squall during the crossing and only one deadly box jellyfish sighting. The marathon swimmer had said this was her final attempt, this time equipped with a protective silicone mask as well as a body suit to better protect her from box jellyfish that forced her to end one of two attempted crossings last year. A team of ocean kayakers and divers accompanied Nyad on her journey dragging an electronic device in the water that emitted a current to repel sharks. Nyad has spent much of her life in the water. She described in a 2011 YouTube documentary how her father told her when she was a young girl she was destined to swim, noting that her last name is derived from the Greek word for water nymphs or female swimmers. Born in New York, the multi-lingual Nyad was raised in south Florida by a French mother and Greek-Egyptian stepfather and swam six hours a day as a 12-year-old. She retired after successfully completing a swim from Bimini in the Bahamas to Florida in 1979, ending a long-distance career that set several world records including one for circling Manhattan in less than eight hours in 1975. She went on to a career in sports journalism and fitness and has expressed a lifelong fascination with Cuba. The treacherous Florida Straits has been conquered only twice previously, both times with the aid of a protective cage. The last time was by Australian Susie Maroney, who used a protective cage at age 22 during a 1997 swim. The cage glided on ocean currents and enabled Maroney to make the journey in just 25 hours. Nyad's fifth attempt to make the crossing comes 35 years after she made her first go at it aged 28 in 1978, when she gave up after covering 76 miles in 42 hours, with the aid that time of a shark cage. With Key West in her sights on Monday Nyad 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, according to her website. "So let's get going so we can have a whopping party." (Writing by David Adams. Additional reporting by Marc Frank in Havana and Barbara Goldberg in New York Editing by Marguerita Choy and Cynthia Osterman)
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Diana Nyad completes historic swim from Cuba to Florida
KEY WEST, Fla. 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.
As she approached the shore, spectators surrounded her in the water, taking pictures and cheering her on. She swam within a couple dozen feet of the beach and walked on to dry land. She looked dazed and sunburned.
Once on the beach, she was put on a stretcher and received medical treatment, including an IV. Her lips were swollen. CBS News' Elaine Quijano reports she was treated at a hospital and released Monday evening.
"I have three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you're never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team," she said on the beach.
"I have to say, I'm a little bit out of it right now," Nyad said. She gestured toward her swollen lips, and simply said "seawater."
Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad reaches the shore in Key West, Fla. after her record-breaking swim from Cuba, Sept. 2, 2013. CBS
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.
A crowd gathered in Key West, Fla. to watch Nyad finish her record swim from Cuba, Sept. 2, 2013. CBS News
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."
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."
Nyad swims through onlookers in the final stretch to Key West, Fla. on Sept. 2, 2013 CBS News
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."
Diana Nyad during the Cuba-Florida swim, somewhere in the Straits of Florida, on Sept. 1, 2013. Dawn L. Blomgren
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."
Diana Nyad's support boats sit in front of a cruise ship somewhere in the Straits of Florida on September 2, 2013. diananyad.com
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.
First published on September 2, 2013 / 6:11 PM
© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
She also battled through the loneliness of the 53-hour swim.
'It's a very isolating experience even though I have 35 people around me,' she said.
But despite the pain, she followed her mantra - 'Never give up' - to reach the shore.
Watch more of the interview at Good Morning America
'Never give up': Diana Nyad emerges from the Atlantic Ocean after completing a 110-mile swim from Cuba to Key West, Florida
When I'm 64! Diana Nyad entered the history books on Monday after completing the 103-mile swim from Cuba to Key West in Florida. She said she felt 'euphoric' when she finally stepped on to the shore
'It's amazing how the emotional can lift the physical,' she told the Today show. 'To see those people and to make it in with my intrepid crew, it just takes all the physical pain away.'
Ms Nyad also explained that she was able to complete the stretch this time because conditions were on her side.
Not only was she better prepared with advice from the world's top jellyfish expert, but the Gulf Stream was also moving north towards her destination.
'This time I got lucky,' she told CNN. 'The gulf stream was my friend and usually it's not.'
She also said that her age - 64 - was largely responsible for her achieving the feat she first attempted in her 20s.
'I really do believe that endurance grows and we can never discount the mental,' she told GMA. 'The power of concentration and the perspective of what it all means and what you're capable of are infinitely higher at this age than when you're a young 20-something.'
Lean on me: Nyad and her trainer hug after she makes it ashore on her fifth attempt at the world record
Exhaustion: She described how she could do nothing but cope as she struggled to complete the swim
When they saw the lights of Key West in the night, she knew they were going to make it.
At that point, 'I had 15 hours to think about the journey,' she told GMA. 'The destination was always my vision of the palm trees and the shore. But the journey - that journey was thrilling. The discovery, the people, the looking inside at yourself.
'And when you finally get to the destination - I was euphoric.'
Looking dazed and sunburned, Ms Nyad walked on to the Key West shore on Monday, becoming the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the help of a shark cage.
As she approached, spectators surrounded her in the shallow waters, taking pictures and cheering her on as she limped on to Smathers Beach.
Once on the beach, she was put on a stretcher and received medical treatment, including an IV. Her lips were swollen.
Diana Nyad on Historic Swim: 'The Journey Was Thrilling'
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.
Long-distance swimmer speaks to the crowd in Key West after historic 110-mile swim.
The long-distance swimmer is making her fifth attempt at the incredible feat.
Experts weigh in on what makes athletes like Nyad persevere through pain, fear.
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