It’s Saturday, and it’s also long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad’s fifth time to attempt a swim from Cuba to Key West, Florida. The first time that Nyad, now 64, tried to swim the shark-infested 103 miles was in 1978.
What makes Nyad think she can succeed this fifth time?
Diana Nyad thinks she can succeed in her fifth try because she is better prepared to face the challenges, having dealt with them on her previous attempts.
For example, box jellyfish plagued some of Nyad’s more recent swims, but this time, she will have on a specially-customized face mask and a full body suit that will offer her better protection from the painful stings of the jellyfish. She will also wear gloves and booties to protect her hands and feet.
Diana Nyad has described the feeling of being stung by them:
The box jellyfish takes you into an area of what I’d call science fiction. You feel like you’ve been dipped in hot burning oil. You burst into flames.”
Besides the jellyfish, Nyad will have to contend with the possibility of being attacked by sharks. No one has successfully made the swim without the protection of a shark cage.
Then, there’s also the distance, itself, to contend with. It will take her more than three days if she is able to swim the entire distance.
With a little help from her friends, she just might make it
With the aid of her support crew, Nyad just might be able to succeed on her fifth attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida. Her support crew consists of 40 people and four boats. They will assist her in navigating the ocean currents and dealing with the changing weather she will face.
According to Nyad’s navigator, John Bartlett, the necessity for swimmers to adjust their speed in relation to the current’s speed is one factor that makes the swim so challenging:
We’re going to be going through currents out there that would be three times the speed that we travel.”
Another “friend” who will help Nyad make the journey is Pauline Berry. It’s her responsibility to make sure that Nyad will keep hydrated enough and have sufficient nutrition along the way to make the entire long-distant swim. Pauline Berry and others on the team will feed Nyad by means of a hydration pouch. They will provide Nyad the nutrition she will require, a mixture of protein and electrolytes.
According to Berry:
We’re looking for dehydration, signs of confusion. We want to make sure she’s keeping her diet up the best she possibly can.”
Nyad told CBS News that if she doesn’t make it this time, it won’t be the end of the world for her:
I’m sure I won’t be in the mood to have a party momentarily, but I will feel proud. I will feel proud. I’ll feel like the journey was worthwhile.”
If Nyad succeeds, she describes how she will probably feel:
If I three days from now, four days from now am still somehow bringing the arms up and I see the shore … I am going to have a feeling that no one yet on this planet has ever had.
The fifth time just might be the proverbial charm for Diana Nyad as she attempts to swim form Cuba to Key West, Florida. She is one of those athletes who seems to never age. Nyad has said that this will be her final attempt to swim the 103 mile journey that just might land her into the record books.
Written by: Douglas Cobb