It was a lifelong dream, and at the age of 64, marathon swimmer Diana Nyad finally made it all the way across the Florida Straits from Cuba to Key West, Florida.

And she did it without a shark cage. She was in the water for 53 hours and swam more than a hundred miles to set a world distance record for unassisted swimming. It was her fifth attempt and fourth since turning 60.

It was back in the 1950s when she visited Cuba with her family before Fidel Castro became dictator that Nyad dreamed of one day swimming back to Florida. She was just 29 years old when she tried the first time in 1978, but got only halfway across when she was forced to give up because of rough seas.

She tried twice in 2011, and again last year, coming up short each time.

But with five boats and a crew of 35 including divers to help her, she jumped into the water Saturday morning in Havana and finally made it to shore around 2 p.m. Monday. There to greet her were boats, other swimmers and a crowd of well wishers.

Nyad is one of at least 50 people to swim the 31-and-a-half miles from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Toronto. Last year a 14-year-old girl became the youngest ever to do it.

Fifteen swimmers have successfully crossed Lake Erie. Randy McElwain did it twice. Most of the crossings have been between Long Point, Ontario and North East, Penn., a distance of just over 24 miles.