Diana Nyad, the 64 year old endurance swimmer from Florida completed a record-breaking 53 hour swim from Havana, Cuba, to Key West, Florida on Monday, Sept 2nd 2013. Why is it a record? Because she becomes the first person (not just woman) to do so without the protection of a shark cage.
Diana’s journey is a lesson in determination. You see, this was not the first time Diana attempted this treacherous swim. In fact, it was her fifth, and at the end of each of the previous 4 failed attempts she vowed it would be her last. It seems her perseverance certainly got the better of her and drove her onward. Her first swim was at the age of 28 in 1978, which goes to show how long this dream lasted!
This stretch of water is notorious for sharks, box jellyfish and unpredictable weather patterns, but each time she did the swim, she learned more and was more prepared the next time.
When she finally reached the shore of Key West and addressed the waiting crowd on the beach, she had some inspiring words to say.
“I have 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 takes a team.”
Her swim got the attention of social media worldwide, even prompting a tweet from President Obama himself, saying:
Congratulations to @DianaNyad. Never give up on your dreams.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 2, 2013
With a face bloodied and cut up from the salt water, a face mask she wore during the night swims, and weather conditions, Diana had some choice words to say to everyone who cheered her on and the press:
“You should never ever give up. You are never too old to chase your dreams.”
She told ABC news that she had a deep resolve to complete this historic swim, and lacerations from Jellyfish all over her face weren’t even enough to stop her this time. Nyad also said that if you are determined to do something, it doesn’t matter what it is, you will find a way.
Her passion and commitment were two key things that helped her revisit this dream which has lasted nearly 36 years. It brings tears to our eyes seeing what an amazing achievement this is, couple with endurance. Not an easy feat, but what an inspiration she is!
As for doing this swim without a shark cage, she had a team of shark divers who accompanied her who would transmit a low electrical current around her to keep those sharks away. One of the many things she was able to prepare and learn from the last 4 failed swims. Sometimes failure is something we need, in order to learn and become better going forward. Diana’s story is a perfect example of this in action.
Take a look at her interview with ABC News after her historic swim, and her inspiring TED Talk below. If you want to see more of Diana’s road to success through failure, you can watch her documentary ‘The Other Shore’ on demand.