Thursday, September 05, 2013

on diana nyad

note: Diana Nyad trains at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center (RBAC) in Pasadena, California, which is the same place i swim. it's only 2 miles from where i currently live. i've seen her swimming there, and as you might suspect, it is rather awe-inspiring. she swims. a lot.

this past Monday, September 2, Diana Nyad completed a swim from Cuba to Florida. she covered a distance of approximately 110 miles in 52:54:00 (that's 52 hours and 54 minutes). this was her 5th attempt, with the 1st being in 1978 when she was 29. she is now 64.

just think about that for a moment.

i should note that the Cuba-to-Florida swim was done before by Australian Susie Maroney in 1997, who was 22 at the time. but Diana Nyad's achievement is unique because she is 1) the 1st person to swim without a shark cage, through waters notorious for sharks, and 2) she is 64 years old.

at an age when the vast majority of people have resigned themselves to the lives they're living and are looking to retirement, she accomplished a feat that most people--never mind young and active athletes in the prime of their lives--would never even think of trying. for many, i suspect that this distance is absolutely inconceivable.

which i think offers quite a few life lessons for the rest of us. i won't go into too much commentary, since i think Diana was more than eloquent enough in her post-swim interviews to render anybody else's prose irrelevant. in particular, the short speech she gave at the end of the swim sums things up nicely:

you can also reference her own website and the news features on her:
PBS interview:
CNN interview:
CBS interview::
New York Times:
LA Times:,0,3322544.story

i'll repeat what she stressed throughout her statements and interviews to emphasize her points:
1)  never give up
2)  we're never too old to chase a dream
3)  we're part of a team
4)  find a way
5)  stay engaged in life

these are all fundamental truths that many in the endurance community know so well, and which carry over into daily living.  we can never quit, no matter what, because the central theme of life is to just keep going on. we can never accept age, or for that matter anything else, if we want to realize our dreams. we may think we act alone, but we are always a product and a reflection of a larger team seeking the our same goals. we have to be resourceful and pragmatic in order to move forward. and above all, we have to know that the reason we do all these things, and the reason we do anything, is to engage our lives to the fullest extent of our being.

i would also like to add the qualities of diligence and dedication. we need diligence in terms of taking the care and sacrifice necessary to lay the foundations in ability and skill that enable us to achieve our goals, and we need dedication to carry out such diligence with the time and energy necessary to help us become what we need to be to reach our dream--in short, we can dream big, but we have to be worthy of our dreams.

i'll finish w what i think is the most significant and most poignant quote from Diana, and the one that i think calls for us to listen, learn, and take action in our own lives:

"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."

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