KEY WEST, Florida (AP)
U.S. endurance swimmer Diana Nyad on Tuesday celebrated her record-setting swim from Cuba to Florida and said the biggest challenge was swallowing large amounts of seawater, which made her vomit often.
The 64-year-old is the first swimmer to make the 110-mile (177-kilometer) journey without a shark cage.
She appeared refreshed and invigorated less than 24 hours after arriving dazed and sunburned, with lips swollen, in Florida. Her swim lasted 53 hours, with pauses for nourishment.
“It was rough stuff,” she said.
Cracking jokes, she praised on the members of the team that accompanied her, including a box jellyfish expert who watched for the deadly creatures that ruined Nyad’s past four attempts in in 2011, 2012 and 1978.
This time, the stinging jellyfish failed to appear until the final hours of her journey.
Nyad also wore a protective silicone mask and a full-body “jellyfish suit.”
Asked what she would do to celebrate, Nyad said a party would begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday night, “and I expect it to go 53 hours.”
President Barack Obama was among the celebrities who tweeted congratulations.
Nyad’s doctor, Derek Covington, said the swimmer was healthy and would not need a long time to recover from dehydration, sunburn and the swelling in and around her mouth from seawater.
“She was incredible to watch the whole way through,” he said.
Australian Susie Maroney successfully swam the route in 1997 with a shark cage, which has a drafting effect that pulls a swimmer along.
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