In 2013, at age 64, Diana Nyad accomplished a lifelong dream, becoming the first person to swim unassisted from Cuba to Florida.
Diana Nyad: Never Give UpIn 2013, Diana Nyad accomplished a lifelong dream. At age 64, she became the first person to swim unassisted from Cuba to Florida.
Upon reaching the shore in Key West, after swimming for 110 miles and 53 hours, Nyad, shaky and sunburned, lips swollen from salt water, summoned the strength to share three messages. “One is,” she said, “we should never, ever give up. Two is: You’re never too old to chase your dreams. Three is: It looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team.”
It took Nyad five attempts to complete the epic swim. Already a record-shattering distance swimmer, Nyad had attempted the Cuba-Florida swim for the first time in 1978 at age 28, but was blown off course by strong winds. Thirty years later, as she neared her 60th birthday, she decided to revive her decades-long dream.
Her historic accomplishment represents the pinnacle of athletic achievement, but Nyad’s feat is an inspiration to us all, athlete or not – proof that any dream, no matter how seemingly impossible, is worth chasing.
“You gotta want to do it and you gotta make it through until you finally see the palm trees on that other shore. It was a vision I had for thirty-five years, and when I finally saw it, I have to tell you, I cried like a baby,” Nyad said.
Out of the water, Nyad continues to inspire people through her words and her example.
“I’ve just always been afraid of letting life slip by while sitting on the couch,” Nyad said. “So I don’t win at everything I try. I’m not successful at everything I do. I can’t even do all the things I’d like to do, help all the people I’d like to help. All I know is: I don’t let it slip by. I live it large.”
In addition to her motivational speeches, Nyad has spoken out about her history of sexual abuse, encouraging others to do the same.
And in the summer of 2016, Nyad and best friend and team leader, Bonnie Stoll, will embark on another journey: walking across the country, from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., in an effort to decrease the country’s obesity rate.
Nyad sat down with Mike Walter in the studio to discuss her sources of motivation, what kept her going as she swam mile after mile, and what she sees now when see looks out at that “great blue sea.”
Follow Diana Nyad on Twitter: @diananyad