For 35 years, Diana Nyad has been pursuing one epic and possibly insane dream: Swimming non-stop the 112-mile gap between Havana and Key West without a shark cage. Four times she tried, and four times exhaustion, poisonous jellyfish, thunderous storms and impossible currents have forced her to quit.
This morning, three days after embarking on her fifth and final attempt, Nyad is closer than ever to finishing. She's just ten miles from Key West, but her doctors say her tongue and lips are so swollen they're concerned about whether she can breathe.
Update: Nyad has done it. The swimmer came ashore to a cheering crowd in Key West just before 2 p.m., and was quickly taken away on a stretcher with IVs. The 112 mile swim took 53 hours.
Nyad's latest update to her blog came at 8:39 this morning about 10 miles off the coast of Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West.
But the toll of more than 100 miles of swimming over more than 46 hours has taken its toll on the 64-year-old endurance athlete.
The latest update from the doctor following her trek in a support boat says that in addition to her swollen lips, Nyad is cold and disoriented and didn't stop to eat and rehydrate overnight.
"Dr. Kot reports that Diana's tongue and lips are swollen causing her speech to be slurred. He and Dr. Covington are concerned about Diana's airways, but have not intervened," her official blog reported at 7:15 a.m. "Diana has gotten very cold, so the handlers were not stopping her to eat and drink overnight in the hopes that swimming would keep her warm. Additionally it was difficult to get her oriented to the boat and where to go in the dark."
Nyad first tried the Cuba-to-Florida trek in 1978 when she was 28 years old. She's tried four more times in the last three years, including twice last year. Whatever happens today, she's proclaimed this her final attempt at the crossing.
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We'll update this blog when there's more news about her approach to Key West.
Update: Nyad's swim ended just before 2 p.m. in Key West, where she emerged looking "dazed and sunburned" according to the Associated Press.
Her final update to her website included a message to her mother as she approached the final two miles: "I am about to swim my last 2 miles in the ocean. This is a lifelong dream of mine and I'm very very glad to be with you."