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)

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About Patricia Markert

Moviegoer.
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