Diana Nyad: Dream Accomplished

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Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the help of a shark cage. This was Nyad's fifth attempt and it took her 53 hours. Host Michel Martin spoke with her three years ago, about not giving up.


Finally, we want to end today's program on an inspiring note. We want to talk about Diana Nyad. The 64-year-old recently became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. That's a distance of 110 miles. This was Nyad's fifth try at completing the swim, and you might remember we spoke with her in July 2010, just before her second try, and she told us what got her thinking about it.


DIANA NYAD: I was just about to turn 60, and I was starting to just be burdened down by this existential angst of, what have I done with my life? And I don't mean in terms of accomplishments. You know, what have I really learned? Who have I been, you know, to my communities, to society at large? How much time is there left?

My mom had just passed away at the age of 82, and I thought, you know how life is. You blink. I'm 60. I'm going to blink and I'll be 82 and gone. And so I was beginning to think, I don't want to feel 60 and that all my good days are behind me. I don't want, like millions of people my age, to feel disenfranchised, no longer vital. It's more about feeling strong at 60 and showing it.

MARTIN: She also told us about how she finds the strength to keep on going through a swim that takes some 53 hours to complete.

NYAD: You know, usually, you have ups and downs. You have lows. You go through valleys and your people on your boat talk you out of them, and you come back around and find your will and you press on. It's kind of a little microcosm of life itself.

MARTIN: That was Diana Nyad speaking to us in 2010. She just became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. She made it. And that's our program for today. You've been listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin.

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