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US endurance swimmer Diana Nyad given Order of Sporting Merit medal by Cuba

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HAVANA — One year after becoming the first person confirmed to have swum from Havana to Key West, Florida without a shark cage, U.S. endurance swimmer Diana Nyad was back in Cuba to receive that country's Order of Sporting Merit award.

PHOTO: U.S. endurance swimmer Diana Nyad wears her Order of Sporting Merit medal as she stands in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags during a ceremony in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014. Cuba honored Nyad for being the first swimmer to make the crossing between Cuba and Florida without flippers or a shark cage for protection. Nyad made four previous attempts; first in 1978, and three times in 2011 and 2012. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
U.S. endurance swimmer Diana Nyad wears her Order of Sporting Merit medal as she stands in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags during a ceremony in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014. Cuba honored Nyad for being the first swimmer to make the crossing between Cuba and Florida without flippers or a shark cage for protection. Nyad made four previous attempts; first in 1978, and three times in 2011 and 2012. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

After a ceremony led by First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Saturday, Nyad said she dreams of uniting Cubans and Americans to walk with her the length of the island of Cuba "as good neighbors and friends."

Diaz-Canel called Nyad's feat "a symbol of the friendship between our peoples," referring to the United States and Cuba.

Nyad attempted the swim from Cuba to Florida four times before finally completing the journey on her fifth attempt one year ago, making her the first to make it without a shark cage.

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