The tag line on her website map says simply: She freaking made it.
When endurance swimmer Diana Nyad was younger, she must have felt like a fish out of water. She was abused by a swimming coach and has said that swimming was the only thing she did that made her feel emotionally safe.
Now, having been the first person to swim the waters between Cuba and Florida without a protective shark cage, she’s proven she is most definitely a “star” fish in water. A promo for her documentary, “The Other Shore,” reads: “At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities.”
After walking triumphantly out of the ocean and on to the Florida beach, Nyad summed up her philosophy of life. This should be everyone’s mantra—everyone who has dreams.
“I have three messages,” she said. “One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team.”
Water, water everywhere
I am awed by her determination and her ability to bounce back after failure. This fifth time was the charm for Nyad.
After reading the accolades about her, I took away what I think is her “essence”—and it’s not just about her strokes during 110 miles and 53 hours, during which she vomited constantly. Each night she donned gloves, booties, a bodysuit and a silicone jellyfish protection mask that ultimately injured her face.
Nyad was not swimming alone, but accompanied by physicians and navigators, and she did receive nourishment. At a press conference she told reporters, “You can’t replace that food, the protein, the electrolytes, you’re in a bad place. You’re not strong. You’re cold. And that night was hell on earth.”
I’ve pulled a few key quotes from this coverage that I want to remember and use whenever self-doubt creeps in. I hope these help you achieve whatever you want to do right now.
Be fully engaged
- “The thing about aging is, it’s true that the clock seems to be ticking faster as you get older. It isn’t, but it seems to be. Time seems to be running out. And I wanted to swim this endeavor not to just be the athletic record. I wanted it to be a lesson for my life that says, be fully engaged. Be so awake and alert and alive every minute of every waking day, because that’s where I had to be for these fortunately years to get this done.”
- “When I saw those people on shore yesterday, and saw their faces, it wasn’t the recognition of somebody who just accomplished something very large in the world. It was people who were recognizing what we go through in our lives, that we all have dreams and get disappointed, that we all have heartache and suffer and get through it. It’s just the human condition.”
So never give up. That’s for other people. Not you.