UK & World News
Swimmer Diana Nyad Reaches Florida From Cuba
Diana Nyad, 64, has become the first person to swim the treacherous Florida Straits without a shark cage, flippers or a wetsuit.
With her lips and tongue swollen and looking dazed and sunburned from three days in the water, the US endurance swimmer fulfilled her dream when she reached land on a Florida beach in what was her fifth and final attempt to swim the 110 miles (177km) from Cuba to Florida.
Ms Nyad, who wore a silicone mask and rubber booties to protect her from jellyfish stings during the attempt, was welcomed by a small flotilla of cheering supporters as she approached Key West after the gruelling swim.
Her epic journey began on Saturday morning when she jumped from the seawall of the Hemingway Marina into the warm waters off Havana. She rested only occasionally for food and drink.
According to her support team she became very cold last night so they decided not to stop her in the hope that continuing to swim would keep her warm.
She tried to swim the Strait three times in 2011 and 2012 and once in 1978. Her last attempt ended amid boat trouble, storms, unfavourable currents and jellyfish stings that left her face puffy and swollen.
This time she wore a full-body suit, gloves, booties and a mask at night, when jellyfish rise to the surface. Before the swim, she said the kit would slow her down, but would nevertheless be effective.
Her accompanying support team used equipment that generated an electrical field around her to keep any hungry sharks away. Another boat dragged a line in front of her to ensure she swam on course.
Doctors travelling with Ms Nyad were worried about her slurred speech and her breathing, but they did not intervene, according to her website.
Australian Susie Maroney successfully swam the Strait in 1997 with a shark cage, which besides protection from the predators, has a drafting effect that helps pull 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 swam for 11 hours and 14 miles before she had to stop due to nasty jellyfish stings.
In 1978, Walter Poenisch, an Ohio baker, claimed to have made the swim using flippers and a snorkel. But critics said his claim could not be verified.
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, Florida, in 27.5 hours.
She is also an author of three books, a motivational speaker and has been a reporter and commentator for NPR.