UPDATE: Because of unfavorable winds and water currents, after 29 hours in the water, Diana Nyad abandoned her Cuba to Florida open water swim. To me, this attempt was a triumph even though she didn’t reach Florida. Committing to the attempt was impressive. Training up to 12 hours a day for 2 years was a magnificent achievement. Putting herself out there in the public eye – aware that know-nothings would criticize her if she didn’t complete the swim – was courageous. She ends up physically more fit and psychologically stronger. Where’s the down side?
Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad jumped into the water and started swimming from Havana’s Marina Hemmingway Sunday night at 7:45. Her destination: Key West, Florida, more than 100 miles away.
If she makes it, her swim is expected to take about 60 hours.
Speaking as someone who probably couldn’t stay awake 60 straight hours, no less swim constantly for that long, this is incredible.
And, the swim is more than grueling. It’s also dangerous.
Did I mention that she is swimming through shark infested waters without the protection of a shark cage?
And did I also forget to mention that Nyad is 61 years old? Actually, almost 62.
Earlier in her life, Diana Nyad was a record-setting endurance swimmer. Among her accomplishments was a record time for swimming around Manhattan Island in New York. She’s a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
In fact, in 1978 at age 28, she attempted this same Havana to Florida swim, but failed because of strong currents and bad weather. Soon after that, she stopped swimming.
She didn’t swim, didn’t even take a stroke, for 31 years before going into training for this swim when she was 60.
Can she do at age 61 what she couldn’t do when she was 28? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t bet against her. She has been training for two years, swimming as much as 12 hours a day.
As I write this, she has experienced ocean swells, shoulder pain and a touch of asthma, but she is still going strong about 24 hours into the swim.
As she was beginning her swim, Nyad shared the philosophy that prompted me to write this post: “I’m almost 62 years old and I’m standing here at the prime of my life. I think this is the prime. When one reaches this age, you still have a body that’s strong but now you have a better mind.”
She’s living proof that 60 may, indeed, be the new 40. Or, in her case, the new 28!
You can learn more about Diana Nyad’s background here. And you can follow the progress of her #XtremeDream swim on twitter here: @diananyad.