Diana Nyad on Historic Swim: 'The Journey Was Thrilling'

The 64-year-old discusses her historic 110-mile swim from Cuba to Key West.
7:52 | 09/03/13

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Transcript for Diana Nyad on Historic Swim: 'The Journey Was Thrilling'
Sam, thank you. Now, to diana nyad's incredible achievement. Swimming more than 100 miles through shark-infested, jellyfish-infested waters, from cuba to key west. It was her fifth attempt. And it is one of the most incredible athletic feats in -- most incredible moments, period, in history. We're going to talk live to diana nyad. But first, gio benitez has her awe-inspiring story. Reporter:64-year-old diana nyad, climbed out of the ocean and into history. After 53 hours at sea, swimming 110 miles, she fulfilled her life long goal, making it from cuba to key west, at 51 strokes per minute. We should never, ever give up. Reporter: Nyad is the first person to swim the strait without a shark cage. This morning, we're learning more about how harsh the conditions she endured were. I went through hell. It was difficult to breathe. It was difficult not to take salt water. Reporter: In the middle of the night, her lips and tongue swelling. Her doctors fearing her airway might clothe. Her only protection, this suit and this mask. Designed to repel jellyfish. Nyad started off a competitive swimmer, becoming an inspirational figure. Swimming around man hatten in 1975. Diana nyad got in the east river today. Reporter: This extreme dream, 36 years in the making. Her first failed attempt, 1978. She was just 28. And three more times in the last two years. Every time, something went wrong midway, forcing her to painfully abandon the test. I knew I would do it. Reporter: But this morning, success. You're never too old to chase your dream. Reporter: After extraordinary perseverance. And I want you to think about a grueling, intense 30-minute workout. For diana nyad, this was more like 106 half-hour workouts. Something she showed she can do. Absolutely. Gio, thank you. And diana nyad joins us live from key west, florida. First of all, congratulations, diana. That was something. It was my crew. If anyone deserves to sleep in, it would be you. But you're up and adam. Physically, how are you feeling? How are you doing, diana? You know, honestly, the worst thing, robin, is and I'm glad i can speak to you. I love you, by the way. I've got some real bad lacerations from the sea water and the jellyfish mask. I had to bite on to it. I have interior mouth salt water issues. That's really the worst of it. I'm feeling pretty darn good. You have a lot of people feeling pretty darn good about themselves this morning. It's amazing how you've inspired the world, really. It's really interesting, diana. You said you were a faster SWIMMER IN YOUR 20s. But that you're stronger now in YOUR 60s. Can you explain a little bit more about that? Yeah. I really do believe that endurance grows. And also, we can never discount in any sport the mental. How many athletes do you know, john McEnroe is one, for sure, who say that they wish they could have played at the world CLASS LEVEL IN THEIR 50s AND THEIR 60s BECAUSE THE POWERS OF Concentration and the perspective of what it all means and what you're capable of are infinitely higher at this age, than when you're a young, 20-something. You said and we saw you a couple years ago, in one of your attempts. And you were so emotional. And you said, I just wanted to get to that beach. You got to the beach. What was that moment like for you, diana, yesterday? You know, I also -- we saw the lights of key west in the night. And so, we knew we were making it. And I had 15 hours to think. 15 hours to stroke and think about this journey. You know, so many people discuss the journey and the destination. As you said, the destination was always my vision of the palm trees and the shore. But the journey, I didn't make it, as your reporter just said, for the last few years. And that journey was thrilling. It really was. The discovery, the people, the looking inside of what you're made of. But to finally get to the destination, I'll tell you, i but euphoric yesterday. We're watching it right now. You were able to hug your good friend, bonnie, who has been there from the very beginning with you. Tell us, diana. There's a lot of people who want to accomplish things. And you're out there. The tough moments. How do you push through those most difficult moments? You know, I decided this year to use a mantra. And I think a lot of people can relate to this in their own lives. Whatever their pushing through. Don't need to tell you about survival and pushing through the tough moments. And the phrase I decided to use was, find a way. If something is important to you, and it looks impossible and you're up against it, just step back for a minute and say, really? Do I have the resolve to think OF EVERY Nth DEGREE TO GET Through this? And most times we do. People give up too quickly. And I said that on the beach when I came out. I didn't have much energy to talk. But the first thing I said, i looked around because those people aren't from the world of swimming. They don't care about the world record. It wasn't an athletic event. It was a moment of human spirit. Amen. And I said to people, never, ever give up because you're afraid. And frankly, I thought if I had seen an abc camera around somewhere and I had the wherewithal, I would have said, robin, you know what I'm talking about. Never, ever, give up. You're a great reminder of that, diana. Thank you. And I know the support crew is great. And your navigator and your entire, entire team -- you're just full of gratitude and inspiration. We are going to see you soon. We have something cooking with you that's going to help a lot of people here in new york in the coming weeks. We do. Hurricane sandy -- go ahead. Don't -- don't give it up yet. We're going to talk about that. We want you to have your moment. Okay. And enjoy it. Diana, thank you so much. See you soon. Love you much. Take care. Okay. See you soon. Bye. She wanted to spill the beans on that. That's great. You know what? She said at the end. Sports are so rarely about sports. And that moment yesterday was all about the human condition. And I think we all could find something in it. It's amazing. It's not enough to say athletic feat. And I think it's apparent why you two are good friends. I'm going to take it from

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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