American and Gay Pride flags welcomed Diana Nyad as she reached the shores of the Florida Keys on Monday, making her the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.

The openly gay Nyad swam for nearly 54 hours and 110 miles to reach the Florida coast.

Hundreds of excited people cheered her on as she made landfall.

“We should never, ever give up,” Nyad, 64, told the crowd. “You're never too old to chase your dream.” (The video is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

Nyad had been chasing this dream since 1978, when she made her first swim attempt. Thirty-two years later, at age 60, she set out once again to pursue the dream which had eluded her.

On this attempt – her fifth – Nyad swam with a protective suit and a customized silicon mask to prevent her from being stung by box jellyfish. She was stung nine times during a recent attempt before she was pulled out of the water.

“You know what's so great about it Sanjay,” she told CNN's Sanjay Gupta. “It's all authentic. It's a great story. You have a dream 35 years ago. Doesn't come to fruition, but you move on with life. And you turn 60 and your mom just dies.”

“With all the experience I have, especially in this ocean, I never knew I would suffer the way I did,” she added.