By KAREN MATTHEWS, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad on Thursday ended her 48-hour swim in pool set up at a busy Manhattan intersection to benefit the victims of Superstorm Sandy, an event that raised more than $105,000 in donations.
"It honestly was tougher than I ever imagined it to be," the 64-year-old Nyad said as she emerged from the pool at 8:48 a.m. Her words were drowned out by whoops, claps and cheers from the crowd.
"That was a long two days," said Nyad, bundled up in a blanket and receiving fluids intravenously as she spoke to reporters.
Nyad, a New York City native, started the swim Tuesday morning in the 40-yard pool set up in midtown Manhattan's Herald Square, getting out only to use the restroom. Her aim was to raise money for people still struggling a year after Sandy.
"I think my real point here was, regardless of whether you're from New York, we, the citizens of the world, can't forget these people, because a year ago the storm ravaged their lives," she said.
According to the AmeriCares Foundation, which will distribute the donations raised the through crowdsourcing website CrowdRise, the swim raised $105,711 as of Thursday afternoon. AmeriCares will accept donations through the end of October.
"We're pleased with the amount and all the visibility Diana brought to the continuing recovery needs of Sandy survivors," AmeriCares spokeswoman Leslie Gianelli said.
Nyad last month became the first person confirmed to have swum from Havana to Key West, Fla., without a shark cage.
She said her urban swim was less lonely but grueling nonetheless.
"I was constantly chilly," Nyad said. "If we do it again we'll do it earlier in the year, like Labor Day."
She thanked the celebrities and others who swam alongside her over the two-day event, including Olympian Ryan Lochte and exercise guru Richard Simmons.
Carol Shattuck, 67, of Riverside, Conn., the chief of staff of AmeriCares Foundation, said she and other staff members joined Nyad on Tuesday.
"It was so exciting because Diana is such an inspiration," she said. The message is "you're never too old to try something new."
"We're there for the long haul," she said of AmeriCares. "And obviously Diana is too."
Patrick Grant, 50, of Queens, marveled at Nyad's stamina.
"It's something that I don't think we'll ever see again in our lifetimes," he said. "I hope I'm that fit when I get to that age."
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