TODAY

TODAY   |  September 03, 2013

Diana Nyad: I’m ‘sick as a dog’ from salt water

The 64 year-old swimmer described the struggles she faced during her record-setting 110-mile swim, like box jellyfish and the protective mask that made her take in salt water.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> us now diana nyad herself. good morning. congratulations.

>> willie, thank you very much.

>> i'm going to ask you about your emotions in just a minute but after 53 hours through jelly fish , sharks and rough seas, how are you feeling physically this morning?

>> you know, i feel all right. it's amazing how the emotional can lift the physical. i remember the feeling only too well. right here in key west the last few years not making it and i felt pretty beat up and sore and down and tired. but to see that beach and see those people and to come in with my crew it just takes the physical pain away.

>> this dream was 35 years in the making. your first attempt was in 1978 . what was different about the fifth attempt that didn't happen for you in the first four?

>> well, number one, i had the jelly fish expert of the world with me. before we went out saying i hope we get lucky and make it through and the animals are the most deadly in the ocean. so she was there every minute diving around me saying they're not in the water right now. i also work with a prosthetics maker to make the mask to protect me from the jelly fish . very difficult to swim in. i took in a lot of saltwater and now i have huge abrasions in the mouth from the mask rubbing. but i had to get through them and that was their world. i had to get through them.

>> for all the physical challenges you outlined this is an incredible mental test as well. 110 miles from cuba up to florida. what do you think about at mile 50 or mile 70? what keeps you going?

>> you know, there are certain all marathon swimmers and mountain climbers and endurance -- extreme endurance people that have songs and chantings and countings but i'll tell you the truth, with all the experience i have, especially in this ocean, i didn't realize how much suffering there was going to be. it was very wavey. i got very lucky with the gulf stream . it was going right where i was going so that stayed me. but the wind action was huge. the jelly fish mask made me take in a lot of saltwater. so sick as a dog and we couldn't -- my crew couldn't find anything for me to eat or drink that i could keep down. i was vomiting constantly almost throughout the whole 53 hours.

>> wow.

>> and you know, you don't have strength anymore. so i wasn't out there just kind of swimming and daydreaming like usual. i was dealing with a crisis.

>> well, diana nyad you are officially super human. i don't think there's anybody else that could do this. you are so cool. you are such an inspiration and it's a thrill for us to talk to you this morning. congratulations.

>> willie, thank you so much for talking with me. never give up.

>> never give up.

>> can we just do what we want to do.

>> unbelievable.

>> she is truly amazing. i cannot imagine, the grit, the determination. it's amazing. you have interviewed her many times.

>> exactly. i went down to key west on her third attempt and watching yesterday, watching her come in, i had tears in my eyes. it's a dream come true.

>> 64 years old.

>> proved everybody wrong.

>> yeah, her method was never give up. you're never too old and it's always about the team. what great messages.

>> she is the personification of all of those values. it's