After more than two days in the water and covering nearly 110 miles, endurance swimmer Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage Monday when she arrived in Key West.
The 64-year-old finished the historic journey shortly before 2 p.m., when she came ashore at Smather's Beach where hundreds of spectators had gathered to greet her.
"Never ever give up," Nyad told the crowd before medical workers helped her onto a stretcher and gave her an IV. "You're never too old to chase your dreams."
Nyad sipped on water and thanked her team of supporters who traveled with her during the nearly 53-hour swim which began just before 9 a.m. Saturday.
"It looks like a solitary sport but it's not, it's a team," she said.
The Coast Guard had escorted her as she neared the beach, and her team was ferried by dinghy ahead of her.
"I wish I could have felt better right when I got out, talked to people and stayed but I realized how, I had to get out of the sun," Nyad said, before she was taken to an ambulance.
The feat even earned Nyad a congratulatory tweet from President Barack Obama.
"Congratulations to @diananyad. Never give up on your dreams," it read.
Earlier, around 10:40 a.m., she had stopped to tread water and thank her team. "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," she told them.
Nyad was still going strong as she dodged jellyfish, whose stings had hampered her last attempt at the historic swim. This time, she wore a protective suit and "sting stopper" gel on her skin, and divers were swimming ahead of her to make sure her path was clear of jellies, according to her blog.
Earlier, a cruise ship had made way for Nyad just as the sun rose over the horizon, according to her team's blog.
Nyad's doctors reported Monday morning that her tongue and lips were swollen, causing her speech to be slurred, and that they were concerned about her airways and about exhaustion. They did not intervene, however.
Because she had gotten very cold, she was not stopped for food and water overnight, in the hopes that swimming would keep her warm, her doctors said.
During feeding earlier, Nyad had mentioned pressure in her lungs. Doctors had checked her vitals and reported that her blood pressure was normal and her lungs were clear.
Nyad had made it through her first night in the Straits of Florida with almost no sightings of jellyfish.
This was Nyad's fourth attempt at the feat of crossing between Cuba and Florida without a shark cage in the last three years. She also made an unsuccessful try with a cage in 1978.
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