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UPDATE: Sixty-one year old Diana Nyad begins 103 mile swim from Cuba to Florida
August 8, 2011
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August 9, 2011

Diana Nyad still an inspiration after failed Cuba to Florida swim

Diana Nyad

She’s been prepping for more than two years – working through bureaucratic red tape,  swimming up to 12 hours a day and waiting until weather and water conditions were absolutely right. 

Finally, Sunday evening, 61-year old endurance swimmer Diana Nyad announced via Twitter that it was time. She was going to attempt to become the first person to swim between Cuba and Florida without a shark cage.

We’ve been following the xtreme dream via her website and as the day got closer she was supported by a growing group of fans around the globe. Her corporate sponsor, Secret, rallied people around their #fearless campaign. She was inspiring people. The world was rooting for her. Tracking her progress became an obsession.

Sadly, 29 hours after jumping into the water near Havana, Diana was forced to end the swim. Ocean swells, intense shoulder pain, gastro-intestinal problems and asthma forced her to ultimately give up the dream.

“Earlier in the evening, she was surrounded by dolphins and a beautiful Caribbean sunset. But strong currents blew her 15 miles off course,” her team posted on her Twitter account.

CNN, who has been documenting the journey for a TV special in September reported:

… as early as the third hour of her journey she began experiencing pain in her right shoulder. By hour 15, asthma was a problem.

As hour 28 approached, the pain was so great that Diana had to rest every three or four freestlye strokes, rolling onto her back to breathe.

The attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida was the second for Nyad, who said at a news conference Sunday that she is fitter today than she was in 1978, when she first attempted the crossing but was unable to finish. She was forced to call off a similar effort in 2010 because of weather.

The goal was ambitious for anyone – male or female – 16 or 61. Regardless of the outcome, I, along with her many (many) fans, applaud her AMAZING effort.

According to her blog Diana is understandably disappointed:

There’s no sugar coating for that; her disappointment is real. But for her contemporaries whom she so specifically addressed, this was always about the attempt, this was always about reach…about the courage to risk wanting anything passionately again—or maybe even for the first time.

If her goal was to inspire, on that level her efforts have been amply rewarded. As her team was motoring to shore they got word that the story was being covered worldwide, “Sydney, Montreal, everywhere – Google just has 1400 articles about the end of the swim alone. Mostly it’s about how much Diana’s inspiring people.”

According to the press release sent out just prior to the swim, the motivation for Diana was far more than a personal athletic achievement. “I carry the message of empowerment with every stroke that it’s never, ever too late to chase your dreams. The cliché these days is ’60 is the new 40’. Well, I’m living proof that people my age are still bursting with vitality.”

I first met Diana a couple years ago when she was on a panel in LA speaking about the athlete as a role model. I was in awe before and now even moreso. So here’s to Diana. She is a SHero and role model in every respect and an example of how one can accomplish amazing feats at any life stage.


dare to dream

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