It appears as if the fifth time is, indeed, the charm, as Diana Nyad made it into the record books on Monday. At the age of 64, this timeless athlete completed her swim of 110 miles she undertook for the fifth time from Cuba to Key West, Florida, without the aid of a shark cage for protection. In doing so, she made her impossible dream come true.
The swim, through treacherous, shark-filled waters where Nyad has also been halted in the past by painful box jellyfish stings, took the long-distance swimmer 53 hours to complete.
Nyad’s face was swollen and puffy, and her speech was a bit slurred, but she proved as she swam to Smathers Beach located in Key West that people can make their dreams come true through sheer guts and perseverance, even in the face of increasing age and injuries suffered along the way.
This time, Nyad was wearing a full body suit and a specially-made swimming mask, gloves, and booties, to offer her some degree of protection from the box jellyfish; but, she she did wear a wet suit, nor swim fins, to aid her in her fifth attempt.
According to her official website, Nyad made the swim in just under 53 hours. It took her 52 hours, 54 minutes and 18.6 seconds altogether to swim the 110 miles.
Leaning on her best friend, Diana Nyad said that she had “three messages” to tell the world:
One is we should never, ever give up. Two is you never are too old to chase your dreams. Three is it looks like a solitary sport but it takes a team.”
Nyad swam for two nights and days through pounding ocean waves and tricky currents before stepping onto Smathers Beach in Key West as crowds of her fans, well-wishers, and her support team greeted her with cheers and applause.
She arrived on Monday at 1:20 p.m. ET. Her suppott team, including five boats, had kept a careful watch on Nyad the entire journey, and had mad sure that she was kept hydrated and nourished by means of squeeze bags.
People around the world were intrigued and held spellbound by Nyad’s journey and the efforts of her will to attempt to accomplish what had, until Nyad did it, been considered to be impossible. Nyad proved that the 110-mile swim was possible, and she didn’t let her age, injuries, or negative thoughts or comments from others stop her from attaining her goal.
President Obama was among the first to send her a tweet of congratulations, writing:
Congratulations to Diana Nyad. Never give up on your dreams.”
When Diana Nyad attempted the journey last year, she was turned back and forced onto one of the support boats by a combination of storms, sharks that threatened her, and stings by swarms of box jellyfish.
The year before, in 2011, Nyad’s shoulder became injured, and she suffered an asthma attack while swimming in the ocean. She began to throw up, and again, she was forced to halt her swim.
Nyad told herself after each defeat that it would be the last time she would attempt the swim, but it become a nagging, personal quest of hers, some would say an obsession.
However, Nyad continued to dream the supposedly impossible dream, and she continued to strive to make it into a reality. On Monday, September 2, 2013, she made her dream come true.
To help her pass the time and maintain her focus, Nyad calibrated her strokes to some of her favorite Beatles songs, such as “Paperback Writer” and “Ticket to Ride.”
Diana Nyad’s indomitable will and spirit, along with her support team and better planning, helped her finally make her dream come true on her fifth attempt at the 110-mile journey from Cuba to Smathers Beach, in Key West, Florida.
Written by: Douglas Cobb