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64-year-old becomes first person to swim Cuba to Florida without a shark cage

“You’re never too old to chase your dream,” Diana Nyad said as she reached the beach in Florida this evening.

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(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

SIXTY FOUR-YEAR-OLD endurance athlete Diana Nyad has become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the protection of a shark cage.

Nyad reached the shore at around 7pm Irish-time, around 53 hours after she set out from Cuba. It was her fifth time attempting the 170 kilometre swim.

As she approached the beach in Florida, her supporters formed a human chain in the shallow water, allowing her to swim the final metres without intrusion from the many spectators who had gathered to watch.

“I have three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team,” Nyad said on the beach.

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AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

“I have to say, I’m a little bit out of it right now,” Nyad said, as she was surrounded by well-wishers on the beach.

She was taken to hospital for a check-up after the massive swim, but her doctor reported that aside from some dehydration and sunburn, she was in good condition.

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US President Barack Obama led the tributes to Nyad, tweeting: “Congratulations to @DianaNyad. Never give up on your dreams.”

Nyad had first tried the swim in 1978, with her latest attempts coming in 2011 and 2012.  Previous attempts had ended due to severe jellyfish stings and ill-health.

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(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

-Additional reporting by Associated Press

Previously: Diana Nyad pulled from water during Cuba-US swim >

Previously: Jellyfish foil 62-yea-old swimmer’s Cuba to Florida attempt >

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Christine Bohan

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