Long distance swimmer Diana Nyad completed what she called a "life-long dream" Monday, becoming the first human being to swim from Cuba to Key West without a shark cage.
Thousands of fans gathered at Smathers Beach to greet her as she arrived on dry land for the first time in almost 53 hours.
Nyad, 64, has tried to make the 100-plus mile journey four times previously but has been unable to reach her final destination. Typically, Nyad is undone by adverse weather conditions and some combination of exhaustion, dehydration, and repeated jellyfish stings.
She began her fifth and final attempt Saturday, and she was again in danger of coming up short.
Early Monday morning her doctors, who are traveling alongside her in a boat, grew concerned when her speech became slurred and her airwaves blocked due to repeated jellyfish stings.
They decided, however, not to intervene.
According to a blog tracking her progress, Nyad gathered her team a few miles from the finish to thank them.
"Hi everybody," she said. "I have some bad abrasions in my mouth from the jellyfish mask, so excuse me if I have trouble talking.
"I am about to swim my last two miles in the ocean. This is a life-long dream of mine and I'm very very glad to be with you. Some on the team are the most intimate friends of my life and some of you I've just met. But I'll tell you something, you're a special group. You pulled through; you are pros and have a great heart. So let's get going so we can have a whopping party.
"Thank you, all of you, thank you for your generosity."