“I have three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team.”
Those were endurance swimmer Diane Nyad’s first words after she waded out of the ocean today, the first person to swim from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida without the use of a shark cage or fins.
Nyad, a native New Yorker and the first woman to swim around Manhattan, turned 64 on August 22.
The swim took about 53 hours and left her sunburned, swollen from seawater and exhausted. “I’m a little out of it right now,” she said.
She first tried the 103-mile passage in 1978 and has made three attempts since.
A couple of thousand fans gathered on the beach in Florida, and thousands more tracked Nyad’s journey live on her online Xtreme Dream map as she faced sharks, venomous box jelly fish, powerful eddies and other perils. She has called this “the toughest, most dangerous ocean passage in the world.”
Nyad took 30 years off from endurance swimming, and since returning to the sport she’s inspired millions to reject that internalized message, “you’re too old…”
“For me,” she wrote in the Huffington Post before setting out on her journey, “it’s a life-affirming quest, reminding me to reach for the stars, to tap one’s finest potential, regardless the outcome.” (Click here to read the whole thing.)
Click here to see Nyad’s Xtreme Dream map and read her blog.
Diana Nyad has to be the most inspirational athlete in recent American history. Setting the world’s record for open water endurance swimming, through swarms of jellyfish and shark-infested waters, after decades of perseverance–and doing it all at the age of 64–this has to stand as one of the great achievements of the century.
New York City should host a ticker tape parade for her.
And the press made hardly any attempt to be at the right place at the right time to record the moment! CNN, Fox and other networks didn’t bother with multiple crews to cover a stretch of beach and totally missed it. PBS got there a little late, but has the best footage (barring possibly Nyad’s own crew’s, which we hope will materialize soon). Love the idea of a ticket tape parade.