After setting a goal in 1978, Diana Nyad, age 64, completed her dream of swimming the 103 miles from Cuba to Florida.
The Los Angeles native (and out-lesbian) was inducted in the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame for being the first person to swim through the tropical weather, shark-infested waters, stinging jellyfish and strong currents without a cage. Susie Maroney made the journey in 1997, but in a cage to keep sharks away.
Nyad set out in Havana on Saturday August 31 and 53 hours later she arrived in Key West. Nyad did wear a mask to prevent jellyfish stings on her face.
Two miles out from Key West, Nyad greeted the paddle boarders, jet skiers and swimmers that came out to see Nyad finish.
“Hi everybody,” Nyad said. “I have some bad abrasions in my mouth from the jellyfish mask, so excuse me if I have trouble talking. 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.”
“Thank you, all of you, thank you for your generosity,” she added.
When Nyad reached land, she was greeted by hundreds of people on the beach with American and rainbow flags.
With a swollen, jelly-stung mouth, Nyad told the crowd: “We should never, ever give up…and we are never too old to chase our dreams.”
The swim even caught the attention of President Barack Obama.
“Congratulations to @DianaNyad. Never give up on your dreams,” he tweeted.