Diana Nyad, 61, Fails to Complete Cuba to Florida Swim

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By Amanda Winkler, Christian Post Reporter
August 10, 2011|11:10 am

Diana Nyad, 61, displayed great disappointment Tuesday when she was forced to give up on her bid to become the first person to swim without a shark cage from Cuba to Florida.

The marathon swimmer began her journey in Havana on August 7, but was forced to quit early due to severe asthma, a painful shoulder injury, and rough weather conditions.

“This was such a dream. For two years, I pictured myself walking up on that shore, and I wanted that moment badly,” Nyad, 61, said after she was brought to Key West to recover, according to The Associated Press.

Nyad’s journey ended “only” at the halfway point to Florida. She was 53 miles short of her goal and had been swimming for roughly 30 hours.

The 103 mile swim was expected to take approximately 60 hours. However, Nyad’s team tweeted about unfavorable weather conditions that were slowing the swimmer down. She faced a strong countercurrent and 5 to 10 knot winds which blew her 15 miles off course. The extra mileage added to her physical ailments.

Her team stated, “The combination of factors was too much to safely continue.”

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“Sometimes the will is so strong. That’s the whole point of this sport in general, that the mind is stronger than the body,” she said. “I was shaking and freezing, and I thought there’s no mind over matter anymore. I was so depleted from the asthma.”

The athlete tweeted Tuesday, “It’s hard because I thought I had it in me.”

"It felt like this was my moment. I don't feel like a failure at all. But we needed a little more luck."

Though disappointed, Nyad told supporters that she had no regrets. She said her motive for becoming the first person to complete the swim without a shark cage was to help others her age see that they can still accomplish so much in life. She turns 62 this month.

"I was the best person I could be ... that's the message. I dug down, I dug deep ... Whatever you're doing, do your job well," Nyad told CNN. She told The New York Times, “I wasn’t the best swimmer I could be. But I was my most courageous self.”

Her supporters agree. Nyad’s strong attitude and fearless attempt serves as an inspiration to people everywhere. Tweets and blog posts praising the swimmer filled the Internet Tuesday after word of her swimming defeat spread.

One supporter, p_rader paulrader, tweeted: “ @diananyad "only" made it 1/2way to Cuba? officially ceasing my whining about being old. #wow.”

This was Nyad’s second attempt to complete the swim. She first tried in 1978 when she was 28-years-old but failed due to winds and heavy waves. In 1997, 22-year-old Susan Maroney from Australia completed the swim but used a shark cage. Nyad, if she had succeeded, would have been the first person to do so without a shark cage. She instead used an electronic anti-shark shield. The shield produced signals that kept the sharks at bay.

Her obstacles were many and she had a support staff boat alongside her. The staff included a doctor, navigators, close friends, and shark hunters.

She is recovering well from the experience.

Nyad holds several international swimming records including being the fastest swimmer to circle Manhattan, she did so in less than 8 hours. She also swam 102.5 miles from the Bahamas to Florida in 1979.
Will the determined swimmer try again? Nyad told CNN, "You don't beat Mother Nature ... I think I'm going to have to go to my grave without swimming from Cuba to Florida."

 

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