It has been Diana Nyad’s passion(1) to swim from Cuba to Florida for quite some time. While many baby boomers(2) were preparing for their retirement, Diana decided not to waste any more time to reach her lifelong goal. At 64, you would think she might prefer to sit back and relish in her years of accomplishments. But Diana didn’t believe for one second there was anything to keep her from trying to swim across the ocean again. Without hesitation she put on a swim cap and bathing suit, clamped on a nose-clip, and spent grueling hours strategizing and training.
This was Diana’s fifth attempt(3) to swim approximately 110 miles from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida. Her first was in 1978, then three attempts between 2011 and 2012. She’s had one setback after another—boat problems, storms, strong currents, sharks, and jellyfish, among others. In 2012, she was less sure if she’d ever reach her goal, but even in the throes of defeat Diana didn’t fully relent under the pressures of failure. That’s evident by her bravery to get up and try again.
We can learn a lot from such a determined woman. She’s not only a long-distance swimmer, she’s also written three books(4), is a motivational speaker, and a commentator for NPR. Diana has taught us training, focus, and determination, despite her critics, pays off. However, it is important to mention she didn’t do it alone. She had a 35-member team with her—a cheering squad, doctors, a boat guiding her, and people waiting ashore in full confidence she’d walk upon the Florida sands and greet them in a victorious triumph.
Diana Nyad is inspiration in its truest form. No matter how many excuses we come up with to explain away our failures, absolutely nothing should stand in our way and keep us from trying again–not age, gender, race, or outside pressures. I’m sure Diana had a moment when she thought she was done. I wouldn’t be surprised if she went to her closet and packed every swimming suit she owned and headed toward the dumpster. If that happened, it is evident today that somewhere along the line, she had a change in heart. I don’t know what she did to mentally prepare for such a challenge for the fifth time, but I assure you whatever she did, this time she got it right.
This Labor Day, September 2, 2013, Diana Nyad made us believe anything is possible. Good for you, Diana! Congratulations!
Donna B. Comeaux
Freelance Writer, Author, Poet
(4) Books written: Other Shore by Diana Nyad, Random House, Inc. (January 1, 1978); Diana Nyads Basic Training for Women by Rh Value Publishing (September 2, 1981); and Boss of Me by Diana Nyad (July 1, 1999).