Diana Nyad Completes The 110 Mile Swim From Cuba To Key West, Florida Just Under 53 Hours

Updated 11:26am ET: Here’s the first Diana Nyad quote at the finish via BBC NEWS:

 “I have three messages: one is we should never ever give up; two is you are never too old to chase your dreams; and three is it looks like a solitary sport but it takes a team.” 

Diana Nyad, equipped with her specially designed jellyfish suit for her 110-mile swim from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida has made it to Smathers Beach in Key West, FL. This was her fifth attempt to complete the swim over the last 35 years. In the past, she has faced problems such as allergies and deadly jellyfish, as well as turbulent squalls and unpredictable weather. During this attempt, she has encountered all of those threats, but has managed to complete the daunting 110-mile swim. Her first attempt was in 1978 when she was 29 years old.

Nyad, who turned 64 on August 22nd, began her fifth attempt on Saturday, August 31st at 8:59:02 AM. The rules of marathon swimming state that she has to tread water during every break, and she is not to touch the boat or be supported by any outside person or object at any time during the swim. When asked why she is trying for a fifth time, she had this to say:

Mike Lewis / Ola Vista Photography

Mike Lewis / Ola Vista Photography

“People who go to Mt. Everest…sometimes it takes them 20 years to make it, after mounting expedition after expedition. No one has ever done this before without a shark cage, swum across the Florida Straits from Cuba to Florida, though people have tried since the 1950s. It’s more than 103miles in open water, a navigational nightmare, with variable winds and Gulf Stream currents, not to mention swarms of jellyfish at night now more than ever before. It’s not enough to be a strong swimmer; you need a lot of luck, too.

 So here I am for my fifth—and last—time. It’s a fine line between having the grace to let go of something you don’t have control over and just can’t beat….and I could be in that place …except I had to ask myself, Is there a way? So I’ve made preparations to try to protect myself fully from the box jellyfish. I have the best support team ever and have trained consistently and rigorously for four years now. I feel stronger and more prepared than I’ve ever been. It’s a fine line between having the grace to see things are bigger than you are and there’s another fine line, an edge, where you don’t want to ever give up.

 Teddy Roosevelt said something like, don’t criticize the person who gets in the ring. Don’t berate the one who gets dirty and bloody and then fails—at least they are there; they are not timid. I want to be in the ring and be bold and just go for it.”

Support boats surrounded her with medical experts as well as shark and jelly fish experts keeping an eye on her and keeping her safe. Throughout Nyad’s swim, she had several feedings consisting of a thin smoothie-type mixture containing bananas, peanut butter, honey and other ingredients that tastes like tea. She also ate peanut butter and honey sandwiches as well as water. Her first feeding was as soon as an hour and a half into the swim.

Diana Nyad - Mike LewisThe crews accompanying Diana Nyad can attest to how dangerous this swim is. One of the boat drivers was diagnosed with dehydration by 3:00 pm on the first day of the voyage. The team doctors accompanying Nyad’s crew, according to http://www.diananyad.com, “administered an IV in his hand and he is currently resting in his bunk aboard Sentimental Journey. He missed his first shift driving, but is feeling better and hoping to get back in the next rotation. Any time a team member is out sick, it puts a strain on the rest of the team to cover duties. This is a wakeup call to everyone to drink plenty of fluids. Temperatures are currently 86 degrees under clear skies.”

During her swim, she ran into some trouble because of storms in the area while she was swimming. There was a lightening storm within 4 miles of her location around 10:22pm on Saturday night. There was one other time during her swim where she had to deal with violent weather.

During her medical examination around 7:15 Sunday morning, the Doctors reported, “her pulse is strong and her lungs are clear. Diana’s shoulders are sore, but not hurting.” The Doctors were very optimistic and said she was looking very good. Diana’s Website, www.diananyad.com, reported Diana had been vomiting every time she drank throughout the night, but once the jellyfish mask was removed she ate some pasta and was able to keep it down. The doctors did not administer any nausea medication. The only medication Diana has taken is Tylenol.

Around 10:00 AM on Sunday Morning 25 hours into her swim, Diana stopped to make sure everyone was still there. She asked the crew if everyone was still there, and when she saw everyone assembled, she stopped and said, “Today is Roger’s birthday and we’re gonna sing him Happy Birthday.” She then floated on her back and led the crew in song!

Diana Nyad swam 80.38 miles by 9:30pm on Sunday night. That distance is farther than anyone else who has attempted to swim from Cuba to Florida.

38 Hours into the swim, at 11:00 PM on Sunday night, winds picked up to 23 knots and the kayakers floating next to Nyad had to be pulled out of the water for safety.

Early this morning, around 7:00am Eastern Time, cruise ships made way for Diana Nyad as she approached to coast of Florida. Shortly after, around 7:15 AM, doctors reported Diana had gotten very cold, so she did not stop for feedings over night.

John Bartlett, Diana Nyad’s Navigator reported that after 102 miles, Nyad has swam “A distance not ever having been close to achieved by any other human being before.”

At 10:40 AM, after almost 50 hours in the water, she stopped to say, “Hi Everybody, 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.”

Diana Nyad has finished the 110 mile swim successfully in just under 53 hours and was able to walk up the beach without assistance. Her official time: 52 hours, 54 minutes 18.6 seconds.

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7 years ago

cnn’s coverage is awful…didn’t even see her land….just crowds of people…and no interview….!!

thanks swimswam. this is incredible.

7 years ago

Mind blowing acheivement ! Bravo and congrats for such determination . Evertything is possible at any age if u got the focus to follow your heart’s power !

7 years ago

What an amazing achievement. Stort tillykke!

About Tony Carroll

Tony Carroll

The writer formerly known as "Troy Gennaro", better known as Tony Carroll, has been working with SwimSwam since April of 2013. Tony grew up in northern Indiana and started swimming in 2003 when his dad forced him to join the local swim team. Reluctantly, he joined on the condition that …

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