Diana Nyad to try the Florida-Cuba swim again

Diana Nyad is waiting for the right weather in the Caribbean to begin her swim from Cuba to Florida, a feat she attempted over thirty years ago, but had to cut short because of weather problems.  Now she has assembled a team including kayakers with shark repellent and charted a plan to accomplish at 60 what she couldn’t at 28.  I am hoping that she succeeds. 

August 8, 2011

Last night at 8:30 or so, Nyad jumped into the waters off of Havana, Cuba and began swimming to Key West.  According to the map posted by CNN this afternoon, she has swum more than 25% of the route.

What I don’t understand is, and guess has to do with the sexist nature of athletics and media coverage of them, why this is not a bigger story.  To me, it wraps together a story of human endurance, athleticism, and female power.  People have asked why is she doing it.  I think the answer is simple.  Because she can.

Here is a poem I wrote when she first tried the swim, thirty three years ago.

The Legend of Diana Nyad

When I entered the sea at Florida,
my body covered with a layer of thick oil,
my limbs turned over the water like a motor.
But the waves sucked me in, spit me out,
jellyfish stung me until I puffed up,
and the shark cage rattled so I thought I’d go deaf.
I wanted to make it to Cuba,
but a voice, familiar and terse,
said Diana, Diana and fished me out.
Into the boat I flopped,
my eyes sunken into my head.
They slapped me back to life
and I began spouting like a fountain.
And I will go back until the strain has snapped
and the difficult becomes easy–
to let the part of me that isn’t lost to shore
glides easily through the sea.


It is now August 10.  Nyad made it halfway when she became ill and had to stop.
I still am deeply inspired by the effort.

“I am stunned, at age 61, at how fast it all flies by. My mom just died.
We blink and another decade passes. I don’t want to reach the end of my
life and regret not having given my days everything in me to make them
worthwhile. Now that also means relaxing with a friend, taking in a
sunset. Not all type A personality activities. But I don’t want to waste
any precious time, as Bob Dylan put it!”

–Nyad in an interview from February 2011 (LA Times)


About Patricia Markert

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