Diana Nyad is an inspiration, a perseverance queen of rock star proportions. Not only is she the only person to ever swim from Cuba to the US without a shark cage, she succeeded on her 5th attempt, at age 64!
Diana has always been a go getter and a great athlete, in high school, as well as at Emory University… (that is before she was expelled for jumping out of a 4th floor window with a parachute! :O) Her name became famous for the first time in 1975 with a swim around Manhattan and her notoriety reached its climax in 2013 with her 53 hour, 110 mile slog across the Florida Straits; this success coming after 4 previous failed attempts to swim from Havanna to Florida: one in 1978, 2 in 2011, and one in 2012. She commented that when she turned 60, she felt the urge to complete this goal becoming more and more urgent. Long distance swimmers in open water face tremendous obstacles such as storms, sharks, fatigue, hallucinations, hypothermia, jelly fish stings, sun burn, vomiting (from swallowing salt water) and abrasions.
Diana is a repository of motivating quotes which she repeats to herself over and over as she swims. One of her favorites is from Theodore Roosevelt, “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” Other mantras of hers are a lot shorter-but still powerful such as.. “find a way.”
As she emerged from the water in Key West that August day having fulfilled her greatest dream, she said “I got three messages, One is we should never, ever give up. Two is you never are too old to chase your dreams. Three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team.”
When asked who inspires her, Nyad simply said, “people who decide they’re going to live a good life.” In an interview with AARP, a reporter remarked how amazing it was that the same woman who just swam this incredible distance also qualified for a senior discount on public transportation to which Nyad replied “I haven’t noticed aging yet. I’ve just never been one who falls into a category. I don’t wake up feeling that I’m 64 and not 24. I’m by far at the peak of my life right now, even physically. I don’t see the limitation.”