I got home from my long run on Labor Day, and the first thing my husband told me was that “..the swimmer made it to Florida…” (He couldn’t remember her name-lol). Almost immediately, I felt my heart smile and responded with something like “that’s so awesome she made it!” On Monday, September 2nd, Diana Nyad, 64, broke the World Record as the farthest to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage or fins. She swam a total of 110 miles, breaking the previous record of 103 miles. This was her fifth attempt since 1978, and her fourth attempt within the last three years. This week we dedicate our Friday 5 to Diana’s achievement and bring you 5 reasons why Diana Nyad is awesome.
1). She’s 64! Diana proved that age is just a number. Gone are the days when becoming older meant being sedentary and not being active. It’s quite the opposite, and getting older doesn’t mean slowing down. I think someone should rework that Beatle’s song to include something about Diana. When I’m 64, if only!
2). She never gave up on her dream. Diana’s first attempt at the epic swim was back in 1978 with a shark cage. Seventy-six miles into the swim, her crew decided that the winds were too strong and it was too risky to continue. She tabled that dream for many years, but then resurrected it after her mom died a few years ago. Each attempt was met with challenges such as weather or jellyfish stings, but she didn’t give up. She found a way to make it better for the next attempt, and this past Monday, she was successful!
3). She found a way to push through the mental anguish. I watched Diana’s interview with Good Morning America. She was asked, “How did you keep going?” Her reply was that she repeated a mantra over and over again… “Find a Way, Find a Way…” She repeated this over and over again in her mind , and soon, she could see the Florida beach. Having a mantra helps us get through the tough parts of our races, and if we focus on that, we will get through the tough stuff. During the tough parts in races, mine is ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ from the Metallica Song. Not sure why, but it keeps me going and gives me that push.
4). Open water swimming is tough. Open water swimming is not like pool swimming–ok, that’s obvious, but the difference make it for a much more challenging feat. There are no walls to touch every 25-50 yards giving yourself a 1-2 second break. There is no black line at the bottom to keep you swimming straight. You can’t see through the water like you can in the pool. The current forces you to drift off-course, and aiming (i.e. sighting) for reference points such a buoys or the shore line is key. There are creatures and other things lurking in open water. There are waves. Open water swimming can throw off your equilibrium because of the current, which can cause you to feel dizzy. Sounds like fun, right?
5). She is the anti-Miley. Besides getting the news to quit talking about Miley’s awkward grinding, Diana is the renaissance woman Miley can only dream about being. Diana’s swim is just one of many major accomplishments in her rich life. She was once ranked 13th among the world’s female squash players. She is popular NPR host and contributor. She is a motivational speaker. And she’s written for major magazines and several books including a biography of NFL wide-receiver Keyshawn Johnson (because, why not?!) She really is a fascinating person. Read more about her here.
So, Salties,what inspires you most about Diana Nyad’s epic swim?