Nightly News   |  September 02, 2013

Fifth time is a charm for swimmer Diana Nyad

The 64-year-old made history by becoming the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida.  After successfully swimming 110 miles, what were her first words? NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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>>> it was one of the most talked about moments of the day when 64-year-old diana nyad proved to us all that age is just a number and reminded us why we should never give up on a dream. nyad finally accomplished hers, becoming the first person to swim from cuba to key west without a shark cage or anything else for that matter but sheer determination. nbc's kerry sanders is in key west . good evening.

>> reporter: well, good evening. when diana nyad finished the 112-mile swim from cuba to florida and came up on the shore here, she was understandably breathless. but so, too, were the hundreds who gathered here, gasping in awe. after 54 hours, 52 minutes, 18 seconds, diana nyad finally stood up and walked to shore. [ cheers ]

>> reporter: sunburned and fatigued, she enters the record books when so many thought she was too old to swim across the florida straits . she first tried this 35 years ago. four times she failed. today finally, success.

>> we could never, ever give up. [ cheers ]

>> never too old to chase your dream.

>> reporter: that team was with her every stroke and flutter kick of the way. less than a mile from shore, even those closest to her were amazed.

>> this is nbc news to the "voyager," southbound. do you copy? can you believe that diana has made it this far?

>> unbelievable! we witnessed this ourselves, and we can't believe it.

>> reporter: how's she look right now?

>> well, she looks like she's swimming strong. sthees still swimming -- she's still swimming 50 strokes a minute which was the identical count when she jumped in in cuba .

>> reporter: diana nyad began this fifth attempt saturday morning with no flippers, no shark cage . equipped with a body suit and silicon mask to protect her from jellyfish. her progress of 112 miles was chronicled on line, on social media . but most importantly, on board a specially designed catamaran. she followed a streamer that hung from a pole under water, at night illuminated. monitoring her vitals and applying cream to protect her against jellyfish, her team fed and hydrated her, never letting her hold on to the boat. this morning, a cruise ship altered course, making way for nyad. her achievement, an inspiration.

>> utterly amazing.

>> reporter: what is that sense of accomplishment?

>> i'm really proud not just for myself but my team, 35 people.

>> reporter: after coming up on shore here, diana nyad was taken to the hospital. doctors there say that she's in good health. she needs some food, she needs some drink, and she needs some much-earned rest.