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'Never, ever give up': Diana Nyad completes historic Cuba-to-Florida swim

By Matt Sloane and Jason Hanna, CNN
updated 6:55 PM EDT, Mon September 2, 2013
Diana Nyad swims along Florida's Gold Coast in July 1978. On her fifth attempt, Nyad, now 64, became <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/02/world/americas/diana-nyad-cuba-florida-swim/index.html'>the first person to swim the 103 miles from Cuba to Florida</a> without a shark cage. The endurance swimmer achieved her lifelong ambition of conquering the Straits of Florida on Monday, September 2, after four earlier setbacks.Diana Nyad swims along Florida's Gold Coast in July 1978. On her fifth attempt, Nyad, now 64, became the first person to swim the 103 miles from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. The endurance swimmer achieved her lifelong ambition of conquering the Straits of Florida on Monday, September 2, after four earlier setbacks.
Diana Nyad's long swim
  • NEW: Hillary Clinton tweets her congratulations
  • "You are never too old to chase your dreams," Nyad says after 53-hour swim
  • She becomes first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without shark cage
  • This was Nyad's fifth and final attempt to make 103-mile swim

Key West, Florida (CNN) -- If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, try, try again.

That's the message from 64-year-old endurance swimmer Diana Nyad, who achieved her lifelong goal of conquering the Straits of Florida.

On Monday, she became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a protective cage, willing her way to a Key West beach just before 2 p.m. ET, nearly 53 hours after jumping into the ocean in Havana for her fifth try in 35 years.

Nyad pumped her fist as she walked onto the beach toward an awaiting medic before being guided to an ambulance.

Diana Nyad 'getting a little cranky now'

"I got three messages," an exhausted and happy Nyad told reporters.

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

Dozens of onlookers -- some in kayaks and boats, many others wading in the water or standing on shore -- gathered to cheer her on as she finished the more-than-100-mile swim.

Well-wishers also sent congratulations from afar.

"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!" tweeted Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State.

Diana Nyad breaks distance record

Diana Nyad to try again

The swim was a long-awaited triumph for Nyad, who wasmaking her fifth attempt since 1978 and her fourth since turning 60.

The first four tries were marked by gut-wrenching setbacks; if the rough, strength-sapping seas didn't force her to quit, an hours-long asthma attack or paralyzing and excruciating jellyfish stings did.

But for this swim, besides donning a suit meant to protect her against her jellyfish nemesis, she wore a special mask to prevent jellyfish stings to her tongue, a key factor in her failed attempt last year.

She and her support team didn't encounter many jellyfish this time. But she had plenty of other challenges, and with roughly 2.5 miles left to go, she paused in the water to thank her crew.

"This is a lifelong dream of mine, and I'm very, very glad to be with you," she said late Monday morning, treading water as she spoke to her team on the five boats gathered around her, according to the team's website.

"You pulled through; you are pros and have a great heart. So let's get going so we can have a whopping party," she said, according to the website.

Nyad's age was one of the intriguing aspects of her latest attempts. Nyad, who was 29 when she first tried, said last week that she wanted to show that "you can dream at any age."

"This time, I am 64. So, the years of my life are shorter to the end," she said at a news conference in Havana on Friday. "So this time I am, all the way across ... going to think about all those life lessons that came up during the swim."

Fatigue almost seemed poised to derail her again early Monday.

About 7:30 a.m. ET, she was slurring her speech because of a swollen tongue and lips, her support team reported on its website.

As the team called her around dawn for her first feeding since midnight, she took longer than normal to reach the support boat, the report said.

Divers swam ahead of her, collecting jellyfish and moving them out of Nyad's path.

Swimmer's challenge: Cross 103 miles of shark-infested water

When instructed Monday morning to follow the path that's been cleared for her, she flashed her sense of humor, replying, "I've never been able to follow it in my life," according to the website.

Nyad's home stretch followed an overnight in which she became so cold, the team didn't stop her for feeding until first light "in the hopes that swimming would keep her warm," the website said.

Every stroke she swam put her deeper into record territory. On Sunday night, she broke Penny Palfrey's record for the farthest anyone has managed on the trek without a shark cage.

In 1997, Australian Susie Maroney completed the swim from within a shark cage. She was 22 at the time.

Nyad set out from Havana at 8:59 a.m. Saturday with a crew of 35, including divers to watch for sharks.

In her first attempt to cross the Straits of Florida in 1978, rough seas left her battered, delirious and less than halfway toward her goal.

She tried again twice in 2011, but her efforts ended after an 11-hour asthma attack and jellyfish stings.

Last year, she abandoned an attempt about halfway through after severe jellyfish stings and a lightning storm put her in danger.

Nyad was a swimming sensation before these attempts. In the 1970s, she won multiple swimming marathons and was one of the first women to swim around the island of Manhattan.

Nyad said she was 8 years old when she first dreamed about swimming across the Straits of Florida. At the time, she was in Cuba on a trip from her home in Florida in the 1950s, before Fidel Castro led a Communist takeover in Cuba and the country's relations with the United States soured.

The Los Angeles woman had said this was going to be her final attempt.


Nyad video.

Brava Ms. Nyad what a champion!

She is baking bread, yum.

Fresh baked bread is always good news...

Graet idea Angharad! I remember feeling exactly this way...

Great tune DD!

This ain't good news on an international level--it isn't even recent--but if it doesn't make you smile, nothing can.

Mollie, who lives in Ireland, suffered a spinal fracture as a puppy in 2008. But with this indomitable spirit and exuberance, who could tell?.

In this video she's trying out her new "trolley" given to her by an American admirer, Eileen.

New Roof on Women’s Shelter Being Called ‘Miracle on 22nd Street’

 Saturday, September 07, 2013

Victorian home roofed in KCA leaky roof that’s been plaguing a Kansas City women’s group home is no longer a problem, thanks to the generosity of two Kansas City businesses, and, as odd as it might sound, the consumer review site Angie’s List that brought everyone together.

The Princess House, a safe haven for abused women and those who are striving to turn their lives around, desperately needed a new 8000 square foot roof on the Victorian residence near 22nd and Benton. But with quotes to replace the roof coming in as high as $60,000, Princess House’ founder and director, Dr. Sarita Lynn Graham, knew it would take a miracle.

And, miracles in this economically challenged northeastern part of the city involving that kind of money are hard to find. But now, she says, that’s exactly what has happened.

It started when a volunteer, on a lark, called Angie’s List and was introduced to the Angie’s List Wishmakers program that pairs highly-rated service companies with those in need. Depending on the request, there may be just one service provider involved, or a group of companies working together. A notice went out to all the roofing company members in Kansas City laying out the challenge.

Christian Brothers Roofing, a highly-rated roofing company on Angie’s List, answered the call and has spearheaded the local effort to raise the roof on the Princess House.

“Christian Brothers Roofing is a faith-based organization with a history of setting aside a percentage of profits to contribute to charities and projects in our community,” says owner D. Scott Horstmann. “But I have to say, when I first saw the scope of this job and just how bad the roof was, I had to do some praying myself to figure out how to make this one work.”

Horstmann wasn’t the only one praying. The women and the staff at the faith-based Princess House had a prayer team going almost 24-7. They fully understood what an undertaking they were asking of a company, even one as generous as Christian Brothers Roofing.

“We were praying that Scott would get the help he needed with the materials, because his team would be providing the labor. We were ‘only’ missing about $18,000 in roofing supplies to make the job possible,” Graham says.

The missing Good Samaritan piece of the puzzle turned out to be RSG of Kansas City. A supplier used by Horstmann, it just so happened that the company had recently finished an enormous job, but had a large supply of materials left over—and top-quality materials at that.

roofers complete charity project-AngiesList“We’re just glad all the pieces fell together and that we could help the Princess House in its endeavor to help our community,” says Michael Lyle, managing partner of RSG.

That’s a sentiment voiced by Angie’s List founder, Angie Hicks of Indianapolis. “Through our Wishmakers program we typically help one family at a time, but this project will benefit dozens of women in need for years to come."

Graham and her board are overjoyed. “How all this came together—from the appeal made on Angie’s List to two good-hearted Kansas City companies answering the call for help—well, it’s nothing short of miraculous—a miracle on 22nd Street.”

Work began Tuesday, September 3, and was concluded on Friday.

Good news!! I'm going to get to see my friend DD next month!! WOO HOO!!






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