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On 5th try, Diana Nyad becomes 1st to complete Cuba-to-Florida swim without a shark cage

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Digital writers
theweathernetwork.com

Monday, September 2, 2013, 4:35 -

It took five tries, but indurance swimmer Diana Nyad has just accomplished what no other person has done so far: Swim from Cuba to the United States, without a shark cage, wetsuit or flippers.

Diana Nyad pumped her fist as she walked onto a key west beach this afternoon -- finishing up a more than 170 km swim from Cuba to Florida, in about 53 hours. 

She hit land in Key West around 2 p.m. EDT. It was Nyad's fifth try in 35 years. 

Dozens of onlookers -- some in kayaks and boats, many others wading in the water or standing on shore -- gathered to cheer her on as she finished. 

The Los Angeles woman said on her website that she made the historic swim to prove "it's never too late to chase your dream."

Her team said she had been slurring her words while she was out in the water. 

She was on a stretcher on the beach and received an IV before she was taken by ambulance to a hospital. 

"I just wanted to get out of the sun,'' she said. 

It was Nyad's fifth try to complete the approximately 177-kilometre swim. She tried three times in 2011 and 2012. Her first attempt was in 1978. "It's historic, marvelous,'' said Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich, the Hemingway Marina commodore who helped organize the Cuba side of Nyad's multiple attempts. 

"I always thought she could do it given her internal energy, her mental and physical strength, her will of iron,'' said Diaz Escrich, whom Nyad has described as a longtime friend. "More than the athletic feat, she wants to send a message of peace, love, friendship and happiness...between the people of the United States and Cuba,'' he said.

Her last try was cut short amid boat trouble, storms, unfavourable currents and jellyfish stings that left her face puffy and swollen. 

This time, she wore a full bodysuit, gloves, booties and a mask at night, when jellyfish rise to the surface. The new silicone mask caused bruises inside her mouth, making it difficult for her to talk, she told her team when she was about 2 miles from land.

With files from The Associated Press

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