Diana Nyad this morning completed 48 hours of swimming nonstop in a pool in the middle of New York City and said the task was more difficult than the 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida she completed last month.
"I thought for sure, for every reason that you can tick down on the scale, that the ocean would be much harder," Nyad said just moments after exiting the pool. "This one was a bear. It was just by a thin line that I made it to the end."
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Nyad dove into the specially constructed pool in New York's Herald Square, just outside the famed Macy's department store, to raise money for victims of Superstorm Sandy, which struck the East Coast nearly a year ago.
For every hour that Nyad, 64, was in the pool, she had someone swimming beside her, including everyone from "Good Morning America" co-anchor Lara Spencer to Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte to Richard Simmons to Sandy survivors and relief workers.
"There was not one moment I was alone," Nyad said. "Firefighters from New York City came out in their beautiful red trunks and NYPD [New York Police Department] and all kinds of nurses and doctors who worked the storm. I went over and hugged every one of them and heard a little bit of their Sandy story."
Despite the constant company and the fact that Nyad was swimming for charity, not a record, she described feeling cold, nauseous and a "burning" in her shoulders during the swim.
"It was tougher than I ever imagined to be," she said. "The pool was nice and warm. The air was cold and I was cold most of the time."
When Nyad reached the shores of Key West in September, realizing her 30-year dream of completing the record-breaking swim, she said she battled "hell on earth" conditions in the ocean, including swimming through jellyfish-infested waters. There were no jellyfish in the pool to contend with but Nyad said the repetition of the swim got to her.
"If you could have seen me at three or four o'clock this morning, you know, I was goofy this morning. I was way goofy," she said.
The money raised during Nyad's marathon swim - $104,000 and counting - will go directly to Superstorm Sandy survivors through Nyad Swim for Relief via AmeriCares.
"It was real and it was a huge event," Nyad said. "It was wonderfully successful."