Greatest Swims: Five Epic Swims in the Wake of Nyad’s Feat

Diana Nyad tells supporters and fans that you are "never too old to chase your dreams" after swimming across the Florida Strait at age 64.

Sixty-four-year-old Diana Nyad splashed ashore on Smathers Beach in Key West on Monday to become the first person ever to swim between Cuba and Florida unassisted by a shark cage. She accomplished the feat in just 52 hours, 54 minutes, and 18 seconds.

Looking dazed and sunburnt after her grueling weekend-long swim, she thanked her supporters, and tweeted a hope that her success would remind others to "never, ever give up" on pursuing their dreams.

What set Nyad's swim apart from other swims across the shark-infested Florida Strait was the fact that she did not swim inside a shark cage—a floating box with bars that not only protects swimmers from sharks but is said to offer a kind of towing effect that helps a swimmer through the rough seas. Instead, to keep sharks at bay, her support boat emitted a faint electronic force field.

To protect herself from the countless stinging jellyfish that surface at night and which torpedoed her earlier recent attempts at the swim in 2011 and 2012, she wore a special silicone face mask, along with a full bodysuit, booties, and goggles.