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Female Athlete Breaks Record with Cuba to US Swim

Swimmer Diana Nyad adjusts her swimming cap before her swim to Florida from Havana, Cuba, August 31, 2013.
U.S. endurance swimmer Diana Nyad has become the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West, Florida without the protection of a shark cage.

Diana Nyad swam for about 53 hours, covering a distance of 177 kilometers from Hemingway Marina in Havana, Cuba to Smathers Beach in Key West, Florida.

Onlookers crowded around the 64-year-old swimmer when she came ashore in Key West.

Nyad's lips were swollen, and she appeared exhausted, dazed and determined when she addressed the crowd.

"I've got three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you are never too old to chase your dreams. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it's a team," said Nyad.

Medics then escorted the record-breaker off the beach to receive medical attention.

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Nyad Swims From Cuba to Florida Without Cage
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At points during her swim, Nyad wore a bodysuit, mask, gloves and booties to protect her from poisonous, stinging jellyfish, and she applied a so-called "sting stopper" cream to her face.

Earlier Monday, a blog post on the website that chronicled the record-breaking swim said that as Nyad treaded water, she explained to those in boats that the jellyfish mask had cut her mouth and made it difficult to speak properly. According to that post, with her goal in sight, Nyad thanked her support team for its generosity.

It was Nyad's fifth and final attempt to cross from Havana to Key West. Her first attempt was in 1978, with subsequent tries in 2011 and 2012.

Nyad has referred to the quest as a lifelong dream.

The athlete's other feats include swimming around the island of Manhattan and swimming from the Bahamas to Florida, both in the 1970s.