If you spent all of Labor Day on the beach, you missed one incredibly inspirational story that ended on the shore of Key West Monday. Shortly after 2 p.m., 64-year-old American endurance swimmer Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. The fifth time was the charm for Nyad, whose previous attempts – dating back to 1978 – had been foiled by bad weather and jellyfish stings. After swimming nearly 110 miles in 53 hours, Nyad emerged from the ocean with a bad sunburn, lips swollen from sea water, and bruises in her mouth caused by a protective mask. Yet, she managed to tell the crowd, “I have three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team.”
Nyad was aided by a crew of divers, physicians, and kayakers, who trailed her on five boats. They noticed she was slurring her words while still in the water, and she was taken directly to the hospital after finishing her swim. Doctors said she was suffering from dehydration, but is essentially healthy.
As she recovered on Monday afternoon, she was congratulated by President Obama (or his Twitter account, at least), who said “Never give up on your dreams.” Hillary Clinton was a bit more political in her kudos, writing, “Flying to 112 countries is a lot until you consider swimming between 2. Feels like I swim with sharks - but you actually did it! Congrats!”