"You swim girl!" is the more appropriate cheer for Diana Nyad.
On the evening of August 7, 2011, 61 year old veteran long distance swimmer, Nyad departed the shores of Havana, Cuba for Florida. Nyad is attempting to swim more than 103.5 miles from Cuba to Florida. Her swimming adventure is expected to take more than 60 hours and Nyad is expected to arrive in Key West on Wednesday, August 10.
According to Nyad’s website, she stopped swimming more than 30 years ago and started training last January to prepare for this 103-mile odyssey.
More than 30 years ago, Nyad attempted this same trip and failed. Rough waters, jelly fish stings and dehydration forced her to stop swimming after 41 hours and 49 minutes. But, in 1979, Nyad made history and secured the long distance swimming record by swimming more than 102.5 miles from the Bahamas to Florida.
Here are some interesting facts about Nyad and her journey:
• Nyad will turn 62 on August 22
• It's 103 miles of swimming
• It's 60 hours of non-stop swimming
• It's 52 strokes per minute
• Nyad will eat 1000 calories every hour
• Nyad will drink one liter of liquid to hydrate every 30 minutes
• Will use more than 25 pairs of swimming goggles
• 45 people on five boats are following Nyad
The warm waters of the gulf will deliver some interesting challenges. The salt water may irritate Nyad’s skin. Also, the salt water may cause swelling of her lips and tongue.
Also, there is the issue of jelly fish and sharks. According to the Los Angeles Times, ʺNyad’s team is following her in kayaks which carry an electronic shark shield.ʺ The electronic shield is used to prevent shark attacks. Also, Nyad is not allowed to touch any of the water crafts or she will be disqualified.
Prior to departed Havana, Nyad said, "I'm almost 62 years old ... I'm standing here at the prime of my life; I think this is the prime, when one reaches this age. You still have a body that's strong, but now you have a better mind."
If Nyad completes the three day swimming marathon, she’d be the first person to complete the swim without a shark cage.
Nothing seems to stop Nyad, whose mantra is "60 is the new 40." She suffers from asthma and is using an inhaler every thirty minutes during her trip.
Nyad, who is openly gay, is an amazing example of courage, determination and how we can all live active lives at any age.
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Reviewed August 9, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith