Diana Nyad, 64 years of age, was just off the coast of Key West, Cuba, when I awoke this morning and checked online. She had tried and failed three times before, getting stung by box jellyfish so bad that she had to get out of the water. But this time was different. She was wearing her jellyfish suit and had a special cream on her face meant to repel jellyfish. This jellyfish repellant was invented in Hawaii and isnot on the market quite yet. (It seems to be one of the magic ingredients to help her get to that distant shore from Havana, Cuba, 112 miles in all.)
This morning I was also making plans to take on something that would be quite a challenge to me. I wasn't entirely sure I could do this. When I learned that Diana had endured o much and swum so far, sometimes getting cold and a bit disoriented, her tongue so swollen she could barely talk, I knew I was learning something about going the distance.
Diana faced so many challenges before that most people believed that this swim from Havana to Key West couldn't be done. The currents were too strong, the sharks too plentiful, and the box jellyfish a new menace, especially to someone with asthma. But Diana persevered time after time, finding new ways to overcome each obstacle.
By the time I write this, she might well be less than 6 miles from shore. All the same, estimates are that she may be about to cross a reef area now, but she may not reach Key West docks until 6 p.m. or even 8 p.m., due to the changing currents and conditions.
By now, she may also have shed her jellyfish suit and slathered herself in jellyfish repellant. She might also have taken another break for feeding, although she has to keep swimming the entire time. She's not allowed into the boats as part of these challenges.
Diana is 64 years old, and one reason she continues to take on this challenge, is to inspire other people to set big goals and dreams for their lives. She especially want to inspire older people to do that, to not buy into the idea that 60 is over the hill.
My own far shorter swims in the ocean, facing jellyfish, rip current, and sharks on occasion remind me of the challenge and what is at stake. She is going the distance and has a great team to help her with this, including a captain to chart her course and a doctor to monitor her condition. But ultimately, Diana Nyad has to make this swim alone and face the isolation of open water swimming alone.
To me, Diana Nyad is already a winner. She didn't give up on her dream of setting a world record for the Cuba to U.S. cageless swim and she is already so close to the Florida coast.
When I learned that Diana Nyad could see the lights from Key West and that the whole team was spurred on by this sight, and I also learned she was still swimming strong despite the hardships, I was writing out my own long distance goals of another kind. She reminded me that I, too, can go the distance.
To follow Diana Nyad's progress, you can check at Diana Nyad's website.
As of 9 a.m., Diana Nyad had broken a world record by swimming 102 miles, and two hours later, has swum much further. She is now expected to reach Key West possibly by 2 p.m. and will have swum 112 miles upon arrival.
One report says that Diana Nyad has swum further than any human being has swum before on her open water swim.
Awesome accomplishment, Diana Nyad! You rock!