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Diana Nyad: Xtreme Dream Come True

Aired September 7, 2013 - 19:00   ET



DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A hundred miles of open ocean stretched between Cuba and Florida.


GUPTA: Water that is surging with currents, teeming with sharks and deadly jellyfish. It's a route that is so difficult, no swimmer has ever crossed without flippers or a shark cage.

DIANA NYAD, SWIMMER: I'm barely alive. Right now, I'm just barely alive.

GUPTA (on camera): The swim starts here. She's going to jump in. Now inside an extraordinary journey.

NYAD: It seems almost like a dream to me, but now it's real.

GUPTA: From the first strokes to the dramatic finish, five attempts, four failures, one extreme dream.

Monday, September 2, 2013, Diana Nyad is swimming through her second full night.

NYAD: I will admit to you my confidence is cracking because I don't know if I can do two more 13-hour stints. My stomach, I couldn't find anything to eat, nothing, from eggs to chocolate to goo to -- just the second it would go in, I just...

GUPTA (on camera): You were throwing up in the water?

NYAD: Oh, yes, and just constantly violently vomiting and then trying again, but going slower.

GUPTA (voice-over): Her best friend, Bonnie Stoll, has news.

NYAD: She said, I never tell you things like this, but you're never going to have to put that mask on again after tonight. We're not going into a third night.

GUPTA: Not going into a third night, because Bonnie hopes Diana will have reached the shore before then. But she isn't there yet. The hardest miles are the last ones.

NYAD: The body and the mind go together. And as soon as the body starts to deteriorate, the mind just goes down with it.

GUPTA: Within hours, a fleet of boats approaches shore as a crowd gathers. Keep her energy up, keep obstacles at bay. Diana knows like no one else that one bad moment at any time is enough to end a swim, a swim that's been her main focus for four years.

It all started in 2009. And Diana was headed toward a birthday, a big birthday.

NYAD: I was driving in my car, telling myself, you better get with these life lessons. You can't go back. You better just seize the day. Go forward. And 60 isn't old. And I was looking at the cars in the rear-view mirror and I caught a sight of my eyes for a second. And I thought, wait a second, maybe I could go back. Maybe that would be the event that would make me feel strong and powerful again, would define me again.

GUPTA: What once defined Diana was marathon swimming. In the 1970s, she won races and set records worldwide.

NYAD: I'm interested in the most outrageously difficult goals that I can think of. I fail lots of times because it's so difficult, but I get wiser and wiser all the time.

GUPTA: Strong, brash, confident, a media darling. In August 1978, at age 28, Diana set out to do the most outrageously difficult swim she could imagine, Cuba to Florida, over a hundred miles in vicious currents, 200,000 strokes, 60 hours.

She had a shark cage built, headed to Cuba and launched from a beach surrounded by press, despite grave concerns.

NYAD: And I remember I got down to the shore with my six handlers and I have a picture of the six of us looking bewildered. We're looking out at a raging sea of whitecaps.

GUPTA: Her navigator promised calmer seas just offshore. But, instead, Diana battled eight-foot swells for almost 42 hours. Hopefully off course and ravaged by jellyfish bites, her handlers eventually pulled Diana from the water.

NYAD: The weather, I didn't stop swimming for 42 hours. It was very rough. You could ask anybody.

GUPTA: Diana's dream was dashed and her heart was broken.

NYAD: I had never had summoned so much willpower. I have never wanted anything so badly. And I never tried so hard.

GUPTA: The following year, Diana set the record for the longest unassisted ocean swim in history, going from the Bahamas to Florida. And then she quit swimming.

NYAD: The day I turned 30 was the day I swam up on to that Florida shore from the Bahamas. And I thought to myself, I will never swim another stroke in my life. GUPTA: And for more than 30 years, she didn't.

Summer 2009, as Diana nears her 60th birthday, she realizes there's one dream that never left her. So she changes her mind and quietly returns to the pool.

NYAD: I just started going for -- to a little country club pool swimming for 25, 30 minutes, and not fast, just kind of feeling if the stroke was there, seeing if the shoulders and the elbows and the triceps were going to take the pressure. And I knew that the body was going to have to slowly come to it. So for those first couple of months, I was just adding like 10 minutes a day.

GUPTA: Then, early in 2010, everything clicks into place.

NYAD: I did a six-and-a-half-hour swim cold. I don't like the cold. I don't do well in the cold. But it was cold. I came out just shivering like this, but that's the day I knew, I said to myself, I have got it. I have it in my spirit. I have it in my body. This summer, I'm swimming from Cuba to Florida.

GUPTA: Cuba, home of salsa and cigars, Castro and communism, just 100 miles south of the Florida Keys. For Diana, it's a place both complex and captivating.

NYAD: This is a magical place. I grew up in Southern Florida. I had many Cuban friends. It's not just anywhere. It's Cuba to Florida.

GUPTA (on camera): The truth is, others have attempted this swim before, even succeeded, but no one has done it the way Diana now hopes to. Just imagine this, 60 hours in that ocean with no rest, no shark cage, no flippers. Diana wants to set the record for the longest unaided ocean swim in history.

(voice-over): And she wants to set that record at age 60. The plan is audacious and maybe impossible.

DAVID MARCHANT, NAVIGATOR: The swim itself that she's setting out to do is a super difficult swim.

Well, this is Florida.

GUPTA: David Marchant makes his living navigating Caribbean water.

MARCHANT: Key West is right here. It's 103 miles. And Havana is right there. If it was in a swimming pool, 103 miles is the long way, but across the Straits of Florida, it's super difficult.

GUPTA: To make it, she will have to build her body into a machine, so she's swimming every day for six, eight, 10 hours at a time, hoping to conquer the one dream that has eluded her.




GUPTA (voice-over): Over 100 miles of Open Ocean stretched between Cuba and Florida. So far, it would take a swimmer 2.5 days to cross. If you think that sounds too crazy to even consider, then you've never met Diana Nyad.

NYAD: I feel very centered about it. It's going to be difficult. It could be close to impossible. It's going to be a lot -- a lot of long, long hours.

GUPTA: It's a big dream that wouldn't come easily. Succeeding will take Diana's very best and it all starts with perfect technique.

NYAD: Even the best of swimmers have seen me swim and say that's a beautiful freestyle, very efficient, high elbows. Probably every 14- year-old in this country can swim as fast as I can, frankly, you know, at a good level of competitive swimming. But who's got the mind then?

GUPTA: The mind and the will to do something super human.

(on camera): Just look at that ocean and imagine swimming in it for so far and so long, it would be a challenge for anyone, even a 20- year-old. Diana is three times that age. She's going to have to train harder. She's going to have to train better, to even have a chance.

DR. KEN KAMLER, MICRO-SURGEON, EXPERT ON EXTREME MEDICINE: When Diana enters the water, she's entering a very hostile environment.

GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Ken Kamler is a surgeon who specializes in extreme medicine, and he knows exactly what Diana's body will go through.

KAMLER: She won't be able to keep up with the energy and heat loss which she's experiencing.

GUPTA (on camera): It's just impossible to do that?

KAMLER: It's impossible to do that. The water is going to drain her. So she's going to be running at a deficit. And as time goes on, the deficit will increase. And she'll just be providing energy to those organs which are essential for her survival. She's swimming alone, but she's actually in a race. She has to swim to Florida before her body deteriorates to the point where she can no longer swim at all.

GUPTA (voice-over): To prepare, she pushes herself farther and longer. And by July 2010, Diana is ready for her first true test -- a 24-hour training swim, her longest swim in 30 years. If she fails, it means the end of her extreme dream.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's call it 8:19. That's when we're going to start the swim.

GUPTA: The next morning, she plunges in to the ocean. With Diana in the water, Bonnie Stoll assumes command.

BONNIE STOLL, TEAM MEMBER: Diana, don't worry about it. This isn't the time for that. Don't worry about it at all.

GUPTA: Best friend...

STOLL: One hour.

GUPTA: ... drill sergeant.

STOLL: On your first stroke. Here we go.

GUPTA: ... chief handler.

NYAD: Bonnie is a rock. She was a professional athlete herself. She's a take charge, no-nonsense, say it in a few words. She knows me as an athlete.

GUPTA: Bonnie will lead an army of handlers that will follow Diana's every stroke to nourish, encourage...

STOLL: Fabulous.

GUPTA: ... and protect her, one of their biggest concerns, sharks.

LUKE TIPPLE, MARINE BIOLOGIST: These are great waters for sharks.


GUPTA: Luke Tipple is the team's lead shark diver. He knows just how dangerous these waters can be.

TIPPLE: We're you catching this chum box hanging at the back of the boat?

Any particular waters, we'd looking for oceanic white tips, hammerheads, tiger sharks, Caribbean reef sharks. This animal has evolved to dominate the ocean. They have a sixth sense. They can feel the electricity in the water. They know that we're there.

GUPTA: And that's why, in 1978, Diana swam in a shark cage. Today, she just uses this:

NYAD: Sharks are tremendously sensitive to this. This is actually in the kayak.

GUPTA: It's called the shark shield. And off the coast of the Bahamas, Tipple shows us how it works.

It's a shark-feeding frenzy at this block of chum, until Tipple approaches and turns on the shark shield that hangs right above it. Now the device emits a strong but harmless signal that overwhelms the shark's senses and forces them to the ocean floor.

TIPPLE: OK. Green light means it's working.

GUPTA: To keep Diana safe, shark shields are mounted below these kayaks. Their electrical signals surround Diana, keeping dangerous predators at bay. They're now thousands of strokes into her 24-hour swim. Diana looks strong, but there's a problem. She's swimming in circles.

STOLL: You veer off a little and then you veer off a little more, and you veer off a little more, and you end up in Jamaica.

NYAD: So, after a while, I can't every stroke look at that boat for hours and say, stay closer, stay here, stay here, you know? And so I drift. And every time I swim 30, 40, 50 yards up that way and back, you know, we're adding on. We're going to add on miles and miles.

GUPTA: And that could mean the difference between success and failure. Fortunately, today's swim was about time rather than distance.

STOLL: Beautiful.

NYAD: Hey, guys, we made it.

GUPTA: And at 8:19 the next morning, she emerges from the water.

STOLL: There you go. There you go.

GUPTA: Exhausted.

NYAD: I was racked. I mean, I was dehydrated and depleted much, much more than I knew I was when I was in there.

GUPTA: And yet she feels confident.

NYAD: I really pushed. I was like cranking it. There was just never a doubt. There was never a moment of doubt. I felt very strong, I must say.

GUPTA: Strong, but it's only been 24 hours. Does she have what it takes to survive a swim more than twice as long?




GUPTA (voice-over): August, 2010, Diana Nyad is raring to go and ready to turn her dream into a reality. She arrives in Key West.

NYAD: So here we go.

GUPTA: The weather seems right. The time has come. Tomorrow, Diana plans to leave Key West for Cuba and start to swim.

NYAD: I feel very ready. I can't wait to get in there and start proving what I can do, you know, get across.

GUPTA: Now, hundreds of things must go exactly as planned. Even one snafu could sink the swim.

NYAD: How's it going, Bonnie? GUPTA: Best friend Bonnie Stoll, well, she's dealing with the first problem.

STOLL: The big green bag I would take it, right?

NYAD: It's all the bathing suits and gear and caps. I thought, I should carry those all in my carry-on luggage.

STOLL: Bright green big duffel bag...

GUPTA: It turns out even elite athletes sometimes lose their luggage.

NYAD: Thank you. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good luck to you in finding your bag.


NYAD: Yes, this will probably be harder than (INAUDIBLE)


GUPTA: And now everything in Key West kicks in to high gear. The team flies in. The boats are prepped.


GUPTA: And then just hours later, the forecast turns and the weather window vanishes.

STOLL: That put everything to a halt. It was a setback. For many, it was a chance to improve things for others on the crew. But Diana got to have her very first meltdown, which she needed to have.

NYAD: I just bawled like a baby. For me, it's like, will this ever happen?

GUPTA: So Diana decides to turn that disappointment to her advantage. She takes the team out that night for a training swim -- her goal, to work out a few kinks.

STOLL: All right. We're ready -- 7:40 in the water, OK?

GUPTA: Like her difficulty swimming in a straight line, to succeed, she must follow the boat's course exactly. It's something she often struggles to do.

NYAD: I have got this fogged-over goggles. And I'm -- I'm just able to catch a little bit of a -- not a full focus, just a semi-focus 60 times a minute. So I'm out there in, you know, never-never land in my mind.

GUPTA: To help, David Marchant and kayaker Stuart Nex have rigged this contraption. Take a look. It's an arm that extends from the boat and trails red fabric and fiberoptic lights beneath the water. This streamer should provide Diana a path to follow in the water like a lane line in the pool even when she's swimming in the pitch dark.

STOLL: Well, we're wondering if she sees the fiber optic that they set up under water, because we see it now for the first time because it's just getting dark.

GUPTA: If it works.

STOLL: She's not usually this distance from the boat. I don't mean far. I mean perfect. She's definitely seeing something. This is exactly where we want her.

GUPTA: It's a big success and the team feels great again, but not for long.

Summer 2010 drags on. Days pass, then weeks, waiting for good weather -- that never comes. But Diana refuses to give up on her goal to swim this summer.

So, for now, it's laps in a local lagoon, instead of ocean swims, avoiding a snorkeler instead of sharks. There's a lone chair instead of handlers. Diana's dream is slipping away.

NYAD: Agonizing. It's not just been frustrating. It's been absolutely agonizing. I wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night at 3:00, 4:00 in the morning, worried I won't even get my chance.

GUPTA: But all the laps in the world can't change the weather.

MARCHANT: It's rough out there now. It's blowing at 15 knots of wind. There'll be six-foot seas out there.

GUPTA: By October, conditions had bottomed out. Navigator David Marchant.

MARCHANT: Last weekend, the water temperature dropped almost six degrees over the weekend. And that's -- once it gets below 80 degrees, she can't do it.

NYAD: I feel like I have let down, but...

GUPTA: After training a year, handling countless logistics, and spending a huge chunk of her savings, Diana makes a gut-wrenching decision.

NYAD: I have just been under tremendous stress. It hasn't just been -- I sat down and wrote this e-mail a couple of days ago.

"The day has come. The seas here today have dropped to 77 degrees, far below my threshold for such a long time in the water. This was my year. I believe I got in better shape both body and mind than even in my 20s. It has been draining, whipping of the spirit to feel it all slipping away from me."

STOLL: It's over for this year, and that's OK. The swim will get done. NYAD: I don't think I could do it without you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're our inspiration.

STOLL: She's allowed to be disheartened. Oh, my God, I have to do it again. And -- and then that will come to, I can't wait to do it again.

GUPTA: Los Angeles six months later.

NYAD: I'm now full-tilt, you know, in it again.

GUPTA: You see, for Diana, quitting wasn't an option. Yet, these long months of training have taken a toll on her 61-year-old body.

NYAD: This shoulder has a tear and the biceps tendon, which is right -- right in the front here, I went to an orthopedist. He said, it's a considerable tear. You'll never do it.

GUPTA: So, Diana found another doctor with a better outlook.

NYAD: Icing around the clock.

GUPTA: And at another swimmer's suggestion, she even changes the stroke she's had for over 30 years.

NYAD: You're going to start swimming with your shoulder down.

So, I changed my stroke. I'm in way better shape even than last year, just strong, strong, strong as a bull.

GUPTA: Strong and ready. But can the new stroke work? Will the torn shoulder hold? And will that weather ever come?



GUPTA (voice-over): Diana Nyad has worked, waited and worried, anxious to attempt her history-making swim. Finally on August 5, 2011, Diana gets an urgent call from meteorologist Dane Clark. The weather is here. This is it.

Diana's 40-person crew hops flights across the country. Diana lands in Cuba. Again, team Nyad converges at Havana's Hemingway Marina.

(on camera): So here we are. After all the false starts, all the disappointments, all the training, all the logistics, two years of waiting, Diana Nyad is about to take her shot. The swim starts here. She's going to jump in and for 60 hours push her mind, push her body to the human limit.

(voice-over): At sunset August 7, Diana makes her way to the water.


GUPTA (voice-over): And then it's show time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 7:46 p.m. She entered the water.

GUPTA: Diana starts swimming, leaving Cuba behind. She expects to have 60 grueling hours of swimming ahead. Sunrise August 8. Diana Nyad has been swimming for nearly 12 hours.

DAVID MARCHAND: We're holding our own now so we're happy.

GUPTA: David Marchand is charting the best course he can but conditions are not what he'd hoped.

MARCHAND: Well, it's flat calm for a sailor, but for a swimmer it's rough. We could have done with a longer, flatter current, which we didn't get. We're hoping the winds are going to go down.

BARBARA STOLL, NYAD'S BEST FRIEND: It was beautiful when we started and it got choppy quickly.

GUPTA: Barbara Stoll's eyes never leave her best friend.

STOLL: I feel bad for her out there, but I feel good she's powering on.

GUPTA: Powering on requires near superhuman efforts. Now Diana's body is in survival mode, diverting blood to essential organs, the heart, the lungs, the brain and to the muscles propelling her through the water with every stroke. She's likely burning 700 calories an hour now.

STOLL: Her stroke has not changed at all. She was getting 52 1/2 strokes a minute, she's now getting 54. She's swimming a stroke and a half faster.

GUPTA: Though her stroke looks smooth...

STOLL: Blowing the whistle.

GUPTA: ... there is a critical problem.

NYAD: I never thought I'd have to deal with something like this. It's excruciating.

GUPTA: Excruciating pain in Diana's good shoulder.

STOLL: It's her right shoulder. Her left shoulder is the bad one.

GUPTA: Diana calls this pain a ten out of ten. So Bonnie throws everything at it she can. Ice.

STOLL: Put the ice on the shoulder.

GUPTA: Medication.

NYAD: Anybody can do it healthy, right?

STOLL: That's what I say.

GUPTA: Encouragement.

STOLL: Your stroke is beautiful. This is going to be painful. There's no doubt about it. We're all going to help make it better, but you are fine.

GUPTA: David is also having problems.

MARCHAND: The currents are really stronger now. They're pushing us that way. We're still above the row line, but trouble. To swim into the current, you just pick the weather and go with it. And hope the currents would be favorable.

GUPTA: The waves are up, and the water is surging in the wrong direction.

MARCHAND: It's amazing, we're not even going sideways. We're going backwards.

STOLL: I'm going to let it go a little bit.

GUPTA: Despite it all, the rest of the operation is going smoothly. This red whistles signals Diana for fluids and feedings. One boat accompanies Diana. Others nearby carry crew.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Toss me a line.

GUPTA: Tenders run between boats each hour, switching captains and handlers.

On the roof, the shark team scans for predators, as the kayaks paddle beside Diana carrying the shark shields.

The one constant, Diana. Stroke after stroke, minute after minute. By afternoon, Bonnie is battle worn, and her Team Nyad shirt shows it.

STOLL: This is espresso goo gel. This was peanut butter on bread she didn't want, so I had to wipe my hands clean. It's a day in the camp of Nyad I guess.

GUPTA: A very long day in the camp of Nyad.

STOLL: We go out of Cuba and it is beautiful. It's flat. It is calm and about an hour and a half it's getting choppy. And we weren't expecting it.

GUPTA: Still, Bonnie remains hopeful.

STOLL: Her back shoulder is hurting so badly. Her pace has not changed, and her stroke has not changed. She is fighting through every second. Every second.

GUPTA: Almost two days of tough swimming still lie ahead. And for Diana Nyad, the worst is yet to come.


NYAD: Bonnie. Bonnie, Bonnie.


GUPTA: Diana Nyad dreamed of swimming from Cuba to Florida, of gliding across the surface in flat, calm seas. Now 14 hours into her swim, very little is going as planned. The water is choppy. The current surging. And a terrible pain in Diana's shoulder is taking its toll.

NYAD: It feels like it's going to come out of the socket.

GUPTA: But still she pushes through, driving her body forward. It's not easy. Simply keeping her body fueled is a delicate balancing act. Even getting her something to drink can be a challenge.

Handler John Hesse (ph).

JOHN HESSE (PH), HANDLER: A special mix. We're looking for 20 ounces and she's been doing about 24, which is really good.

GUPTA: He rigs a line to drop the pouch of fluid into the water.

HESSE (ph): I'll blow the whistle.


HESSE (ph): She'll see it trailing by the strip there, and she'll pick it up and drink out of it.

GUPTA: Now rehydrated, Diana takes just five more strokes and then crisis.

NYAD: Bonnie, Bonnie.

GUPTA: You see, Diana is getting enough fluids. But now she's not getting enough oxygen. So team Nyad snaps into action.

STOLL: You are OK. We're going to walk you through this. Come closer to the boat and talk to me. That's it, just like that. Just like that.

GUPTA: Bonnie frantically waves for Diana's doctor, Michael Broder.

NYAD: It's making my muscles so weak, I can't get oxygen.

STOLL: Don't talk, don't talk. I'm going to talk to you, OK? Let's not waste any breath. You're probably having a little asthmatic attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Michael only! Dr. Michael only!

STOLL: Here he is. You're cool, OK, Diana? No worries, he's right here, OK? You're good. I love you.

GUPTA: Michael jumps onto the escort boat.

NYAD: I've been having trouble catching my breath in the last two hours, and now it's turning to wheezing. And my throat is closing up a little bit.

DR. MICHAEL BRODER (PH), DIANA'S PHYSICIAN: We're going to give you this inhaler.

GUPTA: It sounds like asthma, but Diana has never had an asthma attack while swimming. Now on top of the pain in her shoulder, she also can't breathe.

NYAD: I just lost all the blood to my muscles.

STOLL: Let's get it back. You don't need to move anywhere.

BRODER (PH): You want me to try to give you a puff from here?

GUPTA: The inhaler seems to help.

STOLL: Listen, is it taking effect?

NYAD: I think so.

STOLL: Don't leave until it has taken effect. And slow it down for a mile. Slow it down.

NYAD: I feel a little dizzy.

STOLL: OK, here we go.

GUPTA: And everyone breathes a sigh of relief. For now.

The star athlete is limping along. But the rest of the operation is going well. Shark diver Luke Tipple hasn't seen any divers lurking below.

LUKE TIPPLE (PH), SHARK DIVER: Just doing a perimeter check. Just being cautious.

GUPTA: And the captain seems happy with the course. But all eyes remain on Diana. It's now midday...

NYAD: I can't even swim.

GUPTA: ... 18 hours into the swim.

NYAD: My muscles are going without oxygen. I'm in distress while I'm going.

GUPTA: It's become clear that Diana's condition is not improving.

STOLL: Is it your lungs?

GUPTA: Dr. Broder has to do something drastic. He grabs his stethoscope... STOLL: Michael's coming out.

GUPTA: ... and plunges into the water. First he tries the inhaler again. And then he returns to the boat and rigs this oxygen tank. He jumps back into the water, desperate to get Diana some air.

NYAD: I'm hyperventilating all the time.

STOLL: Here we go, here we go. That's good.

GUPTA: Midnight, hour 28. Diana has been swimming with bad asthma for nearly 12 hours, and she's battling through every stroke in the pitch dark. Any bright light, even from our camera, should attract sharks. So you see a small red beacon on her cap, bobbing up and down. It's the only way her handlers can see her.

And now the shoulder pain is so great that, in desperation, Diana switches to breast stroke. Bonnie urges her on.

STOLL: Here we go, here we go. Keep it up, Diana!

GUPTA: And then Diana stops, exhausted and feeling helpless.

NYAD: Are we actually going forward at all doing the breast stroke?

STOLL: Absolutely.

NYAD: Because you know I'm in trouble, so I'm just trying everything I can.

GUPTA: Team Nyad is now gravely concerned, but they still cling to hope.

MARCHAND: Still, it's going to be a tough fight. We're getting there. She needs to get her second wind, and we'll be great.

GUPTA: She manages a few freestyle strokes and then stops again.

STOLL: Let's take some liquid, OK?

NYAD: I'm just barely alive. Right now I'm just barely alive.

STOLL: OK, talk to me. Whatever you want to do, I am with you. You can walk away from this proud, no matter what. No matter what.

GUPTA: Diana approaches the boat and calls out to navigator David Marchand.

NYAD: Is there all night and all day again and another night?


NYAD: I don't want to quit, but I can barely make an hour right now. I'm just dead; I'm dead. I just have to get real, because I've got a tremendous will, but I'm in very bad shape with this. I just can't.

STOLL: I love you. I love you. It's OK. Grab hold of her shoulder, OK?

GUPTA: After more than a full night and a day, Bonnie and Dr. Michael Broder together pull Diana from the water. The swim is done.

NYAD: I can't make it.

STOLL: OK, OK. It's done, and you did it. You did it, you did it, you did it. OK? You did what you did. It was good.

NYAD: I'm so sorry. I'm so disappointed.

STOLL: No, nobody's disappointed. Nobody, nobody.

NYAD: Not on this day. It's too rough and too cold. I'm sick.

STOLL: OK, OK, OK. Here you go. Stay there. Can we have a towel?

GUPTA: Diana is shivering as Dr. Broder takes her vitals. He's worried about hypothermia.

NYAD: I know I can do it in the right conditions.

STOLL: No, no, no, no this wasn't it. This just wasn't it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've left nothing behind. That's all you can do.

STOLL: This was a success, OK? This was a success in every way. Did you get to the other shore? No. But you sure did inspire everybody that knows you.

NYAD: I can't do it.


GUPTA: For Diana, this is the moment the extreme dream could be over.


GUPTA (voice-over): For 35 years, Diana Nyad has dreamed of swimming from Cuba to Florida. Two years with two failed attempts have passed, since asthma and injury forced her from the water in the middle of the night.

NYAD: I can't make it.


NYAD: I can't make it.

GUPTA: Now, it is September 2013. Havana, Cuba. Diana says she's making her final attempt. Succeed or fail.

NYAD: There's a fine line between having the grace to see that things are bigger than you are and to let your ego go. And there's another edge over that fine line where you don't want to ever, ever give up. And I'm still at that place.


GUPTA: Diana plunges into the water, again. And this time there are no injuries, no creatures, no weather. This time, just miles passing and momentum growing. By hour 36, Diana has gone further than anyone before her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Diana Nyad, the fifth time could be a charm after trying for 35 years.

GUPTA: By mid-afternoon on Monday, September 2, she can see Key West. And the crowds can see her coming. A crush of fans. A few last steps. Then triumph.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She has done it. Sixty-four-year-old Diana Nyad has officially made shore, swimming all the way from Cuba to Key West.

GUPTA: The extreme dream achieved.

Just hours later, she spoke to me for her first full interview sense reaching shore.

(on camera): How are you?

NYAD: You know, you know what's so great about it, Sanjay? Is that it's all authentic. It's a great story. You have a dream 35 years ago, doesn't come to fruition but you move on with life. But it's somewhere back there.

And then you turn 60 and your mom just dies and you don't know, you're looking for something, and the dream comes waking out of your imagination.

No one's ever done it. It's -- I'm not sure when the next person will do it. That's how hard it is to get everything right. And when I say everything right, with all the experience I have, especially in this ocean, I never knew I would suffer the way I did. Start with like glass. Ninety minutes later, for 49 hours, the wind just blew like heck, and it was rough.

GUPTA: Are you hurting right now?

NYAD: I was hurting then.

GUPTA: I mean, I know your face is swollen.

NYAD: That's OK. That's temporary. But 13 hours, partly because of the daylight being less these days, to avoid the fatal attacks of the box jellyfish. They're close to 80 percent fatal, no matter what the sting is, how small, what part of the body. And its sting is immediate. It takes your heart, your lungs and your spinal cord if any animal stings.

So I had a prosthetic mask made, and it's brilliant for jellyfish. Box jellyfish could not penetrate it. Because I wasn't stung and they were there. But I could open my mouth, and then you have silicone on your face and you can't feel the waves. So you're inhaling gulps and sips of saltwater. And so I was just -- I was whipped.

When I got that mask off in the morning, I told myself, two more nights with that thing. I don't know. Where will I find -- find a way for that?

But what lifted my spirits was, Bonnie told me that we were not going into a third night. We're finishing in the day, if I can just make it through Sunday night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is nothing that will stop you. You will go, go, go!

NYAD: The wind is bad, but the Gulf Stream is streaming to due north. It's a ride. You never get that kind of ride.

GUPTA: What about sharks?

NYAD: We had a great shark team, great guys. Brave, experienced. They're just going to, in the black of night, they're just in there, looking for eyes. And if the eyes are very far apart, it's a large animal. I thank them. They patrol. I see them all night in with me.

GUPTA: At those times when it was really tough, when the wind was blowing hard, the squalls and stuff like that, what do you think about? I mean, you're such an inspiring person. What or whom inspires you?

NYAD: You know, Sanjay, I'm just like every other human being. Even the bravest soldier has doubts, has fears. And I'm no different.

But I decided before I went into this, no matter what happened, I don't want that experience again. I didn't want to be here packing up again, and deciding if it's worth trying again: Do I have anything new to bring to the party? My whole mantra this year was, find a way. You don't like it, you're not doing well, find a way.

GUPTA: Find a way, I like that.

NYAD: Find a way. So it was really rough that first day, Saturday. After the start. And I just said, forget about the surface up. Get your hands in somehow, and with your left hand, say push Cuba back and push Florida toward you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got this! You got this. Crawl if you have to. You got this. You got this. You got this.

GUPTA: You've just gone through something nobody has ever done before. Has that set in?

NYAD: Yes, because I've been trying for so long, and because today I had 15 hours. We could see last night the lights of Key West, and our navigator said, it's probably going to be about 15 hours of swimming. But I just believed in it. I believed I could make it. I've got three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up.


NYAD: Two is, you're never too old to chase your dreams.


NYAD: Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it's a team.