Diana Nyad had one of the greatest Labor Day trips of all time yesterday – she completed her life long dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida, making her the first person to ever swim the route sans a shark cage or other physical support. The dream to swim across the Straits of Florida came to Diana when she was just 8 years old while in Cuba on holiday from her home in Florida in the 1950s.
“We should never ever give up; you’re never too old to chase your dreams,” the 64-year old told ABC News in her first interview following the record setting swim.
Along with a crew of 35, Diana set out from Havana at 8:59 a.m. Saturday. The historic 103-mile crossing took approximately 53 hours. This was her fifth and final attempt at the swim, having made her first try 36 years ago when she was just 28 years old.
Her previous attempts were full of setbacks including rough waters, an asthma attack, and paralyzing jellyfish stings. With Mother Nature on her side, Diana finished her incredible journey Monday, just before 2:00pm.
“This journey has always been about reaching your own other shore no matter what it is.”
“More than the athletic feat, she wants to send a message of peace, love, friendship and happiness … between the people of the United States and Cuba,” said Diaz Escrich, the swimmer’s longtime friend.
Diana first came onto the long-distance swimming scene in the late 1960’s. She gained national attention in 1975 when she swam 28 miles around the island of Manhattan in just under 8 hours, setting a new time record. In 1979 she swam the 102 miles from North Bimini, Bahamas, to Juno Beach, FL., in 27.5 hours. She is a member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
When Diana stepped onto the sand Monday afternoon, it was a win for us all. No matter how old or young we can all do amazing things if we set our goals high and keep charging forward.
Next up? No rest for the weary… Diana announced this morning that she will be getting back in the water next month for an event she’s calling “NYAD 48” from October 8-10 in Times Square in New York City. She will swim for 48 hours straight in a pool set up for the event to raise money for Hurricane Sandy Relief in advance of the one-year anniversary of the storm.