On her fifth attempt spanning 35 years and involving many agonising interactions with jellyfish, the long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad finally achieved her lifetime ambition to enter the record books as the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.
Nyad came on shore at Florida’s Key West shortly before 2pm local time and despite having been in the ocean for about 52 hours managed to walk on to the beach unaided before falling into the arms of a supporter. She succeeded in making the 110-mile (180km) journey through treacherous waters, currents and the constant threat of attack from what she once described as “Mother Nature on steroids”.
At lunchtime on Monday Nyad, 64, was just a couple of miles off the coast of Florida, her extreme dream finally within her grasp. Though she was said by her team to be “really hurting”, she took time out to deliver a euphoric message to her 35-strong support crew.
She began by saying that she had trouble talking as a result of abrasions in her mouth caused by a silicone mask she has been wearing to protect herself from jellyfish stings and apologised for being hard to understand. Then she said: “I am about to swim my last two miles in the ocean.