By AMELIA LOEFFLER, age 11

Diana Nyad was the first person confirmed to swim from Cuba to the United States without a protective shark cage. PHOTO: Asterix611
Diana Nyad was the first person confirmed to swim from Cuba to the United States without a protective shark cage. PHOTO: Asterix611

At 1:55 p.m. on September 2, Diana Nyad became the first person confirmed to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage for protection. She swam a total distance of 110 miles!

This was Nyad’s fifth attempt to make the trip, but it was a dream of hers since her years as a professional competitive swimmer. She made her first effort in 1978 when she was 28, but she was directed off course by strong winds. She tried again in 2011, and then twice in 2012, but stinging jellyfish stopped her.

Nyad was 64 when she began her marathon swim for the fifth time on August 31. She wore a bodysuit, booties, gloves and a face mask to prevent jellyfish stings. Throughout the swim, she rested by treading water and tried to stay hydrated with fresh water provided to her by her crew that followed her in boats and kayaks. After almost 53 hours in the ocean and no sleep, Nyad reached a Key West beach, finally setting the record and achieving her long-held goal.

Nyad and her crew were greeted by fans at the beach. “I have three messages: one is that we should never give up; two is you are never too old to chase your dreams; and three is that it looks like a solitary sport, but it takes a team.”

Nyad’s mantra through the swim was, “Find a way, you’ll make it through.”