She spent over 41 hours swimming in shark-infested waters, battling multiple stings from jellyfish and relentless storms. And tomorrow is her 63rd birthday. How is that for tough?
Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad set out from Havana on Saturday night hoping to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. (I really don’t know why anyone would want to eschew the protection of a shark cage, but, I also don’t know why anyone would want to swim in shark-infested waters in the first place when there are perfectly good pools scattered happily around the suburbs. I, clearly, am not so tough.) On that first night, Nyad was stung on her lips, forehead, hands and neck by jellyfish (any one of which would have sent me screaming for the shore, never to return to the beast-infested ocean) and, on Sunday night, a squall “blew up very quick,” staying virtually stationary over top of Nyad and eventually requiring her to try to find a path out of the storm. However, she was stung another nine times by jellyfish on Monday night and was being tracked by sharks, which kayakers were attempting to keep at bay.
By 12:55 a.m. Tuesday morning, the weather had again become dangerous enough that she was pulled from the water, her lips and toungue extremely swollen from the saltwater and her skin burned by the sun. Even then, though, she was not ready to give up, saying, ““When can I get back in? I want full transparency that I was out. But I have plenty left in me and I want to go on.” But the storm continued and she finally had to face the reality that her historic swim was over. She is now returning to Key West with severe sunburn and a strained bicep.
This was Nyad’s fourth attempt at the 103-mile swim (her first being in 1970 when she was 30) and she made it further in both time and distance than in any of her other attempts. Hats, or should I say “swim caps,” off to you, Ms. Nyad.