(KEY WEST, Fla.) — Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad was pulled from the water early Tuesday morning, prematurely ending her attempted Cuba-to-Florida swim.
Tuesday afternoon, she completed a symbolic swim to the Florida shore and then proceeded to talk about the journey.
“Could I say there is no disappointment?” she asked, pausing to spit water. “No.”
She thanked her team and talked to the gathered crowd about her lifelong quest to “cross this ocean,” and then seemed to look faint, easing herself down. But she continued to talk.
Would she do it again? The answer seemed to be “no.” It wasn’t the fatigue, the pain, the hunger or even the circling sharks but the jellyfish that did her in. “With those things, the swim just isn’t fun,” she said.
Nyad was attempting to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. Wednesday is her 63rd birthday.
Support crews pulled Nyad out of the water at 12:55 a.m., but they only revealed it hours later as they gave a phone interview to ABC News’ Good Morning America.
“We pulled her out of the water,” Steven Munatones told Robin Roberts. “The dangers were so great that we couldn’t risk anyone’s life, including her own.”
Munatones was the official observer of the swim and the editor-in-chief of the Daily News of Open Water Swimming.
It was Nyad’s fourth attempt to complete the swim.
Support crews monitoring Nyad told GMA that Nyad had severe sunburn, a strained bicep muscle and could barely walk. Her lips and tongue had become increasingly swollen overnight, puffing up because of salt water. Members of her support crew of 63, which included multiple boats, had slathered her face and full-body wetsuit with black-tinted lanolin to keep the jellyfish and the cold at bay.
Team members said she had been struck at least four times by jellyfish during her voyage. Jellyfish stings had also cut short her attempt to make the crossing in 2011. This was Nyad’s third attempt to complete the swim in less than a year.
During the arduous journey, which began late Saturday night, Nyad was not allowed to touch or be touched by any of the support crews or vessels. At a pace of 50 strokes a minute, the swim was expected to take 60 hours.
A squall with winds of 14 knots hit the flotilla Sunday and stayed “nearly stationary over” Nyad, forcing her to move northwest in order to try to find a way out of the storm.
Nyad ended her last attempt in September 2011 after more than 40 hours, 67 nautical miles of swimming and two Portuguese man o’ war stings.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Georgia McCafferty and Junko Ogura, CNN
Steve Almasy, CNN
Angela Dewan, CNN