Mother Nature, along with millions of online fans, were on endurance swimmer Diana Nyad’s side during her successful 103 mile swim from Cuba to Florida. It was Nyad’s fifth attempt at the historic distance and as she approached the shore of Smathers Beach in Key West, Florida, shortly before 2 p.m. a mob of cheering supporters were on hand to bring her home. The 64 year old made her first attempt to cross the treacherous Florida Straits 35 years ago.
Proving that you’re never to old to follow your dreams, Nyad is nothing short of amazing. The fifty plus hour swim as relayed on Twitter and Facebook was surreal as the indefatigable swimmer inched closer and closer to the other shore. If the flood of online supporters rushing to share the news and congratulate the swimmer is any indication, it’s easy to compare the triumph to such celebratory events as the moon landing. Attempted by many others over the years, the crossing punishes swimmers with jellyfish stings, sharks, sunburns, malnutrition, blisters, storms and hallucinations. On each attempt, Nyad and her team, led by head trainer Bonnie Stoll, revised the plan to counter new obstacles and challenges and clearly the effort paid off.
Reaching the shore in Key West, Nyad was determined to emerge from the water under her own power, which she managed to do before collapsing into the waiting arms of her team. Wearing her trademark blue swim cap and goggles, she appeared a bit dazed and sunburned with swollen lips and face but otherwise in good condition. Once she gathered herself, Nyad had three messages for supporters:
“One is, you should never, ever give up. Two is, you never are too old to chase your dreams. Three is, it looks like it’s a solitary sport but it takes a team.”
Nyad’s social media team posted the following message on her Facebook page upon her arrival in Key West: “Our #FearlessNyad has at long last achieved her #XtremeDream and reached #TheOtherShore . An historic moment that proves #DreamsDoComeTrue.”
The official swim was 110 miles total distance in 52 hours, 54 minutes, and 18.6 seconds, shattering every distance swimming record imaginable for swimming in open water without a shark cage. In terms of sheer physical exertion. Nyad’s effort over such an extended amount of time is a remarkable testament to human endurance.
Across the world, people on social media congratulated Nyad. President Barack Obama and Florida Gov. Rick Scott took to Twitter to acknowledge her achievement.
“Never give up on your dreams,” Obama tweeted.
Hillary Clinton said that Nyad’s record-breaking swim puts her former job in perspective.
Tweeting her congratulations to the swimmer, the former secretary of state said the feat outshone her own brushes with “sharks.”
Flying to 112 countries is a lot until you consider swimming between 2. Feels like I swim with sharks – but you actually did it! Congrats!
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 2, 2013
Congrats Diana. Truly an inspiration. Never give up on your dreams!