LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Record-breaking endurance swimmer Diana Nyad returned home to Los Angeles Thursday to a chorus of cheers after she became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage.
The inspiring 64-year-old athlete received a hero’s welcome when she arrived at LAX, as dozens of friends, family members and supporters applauded her extraordinary accomplishment.
Nyad, who credits the success of her 100-mile record swim, in part, to a mask that she wore that prevented jellyfish from stinging her face and neck, said unlike past swims she is experiencing no muscle soreness.
Back on dry land following her fifth attempt, she spoke to CBS2’s Melanie Woodrow about her determination to complete the journey.
“This time I thought… I will,” she said.
“No matter what happens, I am going to find a way to get through it. If I cannot find a way, [best friend] Bonnie [Stoll] will help me to find a way. I don’t care what the tide is, jellyfish are, the waves, the currents. I am going to get through it. It doesn’t matter if it will take me four days to get through it,” she recalled.
Nyad swam 110.4 statue miles in 52 hours, 54 minutes and 18.6 seconds, making it to the shore of Key West at 3:14 p.m, Monday.
Stoll said she never doubted her friend would accomplish the feat.
“I think that the only person in the whole world who wasn’t surprised that she accomplished this was her,” she said.
Liza Eversole, Nyad’s sister, was also at the airport to welcome her sibling, who she says has been a lifelong inspiration.
“My sister is an amazing, amazing sister and she has inspired me my whole life,” Eversole said.
Nyad has now inspired an extended family as well, including those she’s never met, with several supporters gathering to meet her.
Asked what she would say to someone encountering something in their life they’re unsure can be overcome, she offered a word of advice.
“You know I think all of us need to live with purpose, we need to dream, we need to touch our potential, that’s what makes us feel alive,” Nyad said.
Her journey continues. One month from today, she will be swimming in a pool for 48 hours with other notable New Yorkers, raising money for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
To learn more about Nyad’s journey, visit her website.