Diana Nyad Finishes 2-Day Swim, Raises $103K for Sandy Vics

In September, Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West, Fla. without a shark cage

Thursday, Oct 10, 2013  |  Updated 8:49 PM EDT
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Spectators whooped and cheered as the 64-year-old woman who swam from Cuba to Florida finished her 48-hour swim in a pool installed in a Manhattan intersection to benefit victims of Sandy. Katherine Creag has the story.

NBC 4 New York

Spectators whooped and cheered as the 64-year-old woman who swam from Cuba to Florida finished her 48-hour swim in a pool installed in a Manhattan intersection to benefit victims of Sandy. Katherine Creag has the story.

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Spectators whooped and cheered as the 64-year-old woman who swam from Cuba to Florida finished her 48-hour swim in a pool installed in a Manhattan intersection to benefit victims of Sandy.

Wearing a pink swim cap, Diana Nyad dove into the 120-foot, two-lane pool set up in Herald Square and began doing laps shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday.

She came out of the pool at 8:48 a.m. Thursday after raising a little more than $103,000 for the AmeriCares nonprofit health and disaster organization, according to the event’s website

Nyad said it was tougher than she had imagined. Her words were drowned out by the cheering crowd.

The endurance swimmer said on the "Today" show Monday she’s doing the swim so that the victims of the devastating storm aren't forgotten.

“I don't want to forget them,” she said. “I don't want to forget any people who have been through disaster.”

Last month, the native New Yorker became the first person to swim from Havana to Key West, Fla., without a shark cage.

Several companions joined Nyad in the pool, including Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte, fitness guru Richard Simmons and "Today" show anchor Natalie Morales. 

Nyad broke otherwise strict athletic rules by hugging some of the humans joining her in the two-lane pool. "I'm going to feel the solidarity. And every penny is going to go right to the victims."

Nyad's fame for her swim from Cuba was accompanied by speculation that she had gotten into or held onto a boat during part of her 53-hour journey. But on Monday, she waved off critics, saying, "there will always be naysayers."

She insisted she wore no flippers, used no cage, did not get out of the water and was never supported by another human being for what she calls "the most epic swim in history."

Now that the Manhattan swim is over, she said she's looking to more "personal, creative" charity events using the portable pool — possibly to raise money for victims of tornadoes, tsunamis, terrorist attacks and other disasters.

And, she added with a grin, she may want to try her hand at another solo event — maybe a one-woman show on Broadway. She offered no details.

Nyad tried unsuccessfully four times to make the 110-mile swim from Havana to Key West before completing the trek Sept. 2. In 1975, she swam around Manhattan.

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