Diana hopes to begin her marathon swim any day now, but it wonât be the first time sheâs challenged herself to attempt the feat. In 1978, when she was 32 years younger and a seasoned athlete, she didnât make it.
Instead, battered and weak, she was hauled into a support boat by friends after spending more than 41 hours battling strong currents and punishing waves.
This time, she believes, will be different. And while having turned 60 might seem to be a disadvantage, for Diana Nyad it was just the inspiration she needed.
âHonestly, I have not been sitting around for all these 32 years thinking âmy life is miserable without making it from Cuba to Floridaâ,â Diana said recently during a break in her final training in Key West. (Click here to view a You Tube video interview segment with Diana.)
In fact, sheâs a popular radio and television personality and author who lives in L.A. and looks far younger than her chronological age. Yet after celebrating her 60th birthday last year, she decided somebody needed to shatter the modern-day perception that older people are âpast it.â
âIâm strong, Iâm vital, I still feel relevant to my community, but youâre not made to feel that way at 60 in this society,â Diana said. âI want 60-year-olds to look at me and say, âYou know that silly bumper sticker â60 is the new 40â? Sheâs proving itâ.â
So she began training for the 103-mile swim â which, coincidentally, is estimated to take about 60 hours (yes, thatâs an almost unbelievable two-and-a-half days).
As well as being physically and mentally challenging, the feat also involved logistical challenges that rivaled those of an Everest expedition. They included getting government permissions from both the U.S. and Cuba, and assembling a support team (it eventually grew to 37 people).
Unlike her 1978 attempt, Diana wonât be swimming in a protective shark cage. This time, sheâll be accompanied by professional kayakers with electronic shark repelling devices â just in case.
In mid-July, with the details falling into place, Diana successfully completed a 24-hour swim in the Gulf Stream off Key West. And recently, sheâs been staying in the island city, where the community has embraced her as she waits for the right weather conditions to begin the marathon.
âThe people in town have been so generous to me,â Diana marveled. âThe Southernmost Hotel has given me a free hotel room for as long as Iâm here, the Key West Yacht Club is giving us a free boat slip for our boats âŚ these generous donations from the good people here in the Keys have helped me enormously and I will be forever grateful.â
She hopes to end the swim in Key West. But if currents sweep her closer to some other part of the Keys, thatâs just fine too.
Sheâs got plenty of mental techniques to help pass the hours at sea, like counting her strokes in every language she knows and following the beat of metronomic songs. But ultimately, it will come down to her personal resilience and staying power âŚ qualities Diana believes have only increased with age.
âI definitely am a little slower than I used to be but I think I have a better chance mentally, and in spirit and will, than I did before,â Diana said. âAnd after all, thatâs what itâs all about out there â the will.â
May this tough, inspiring lady stay safe, stay focused, and emerge triumphant on the welcoming shores of the Keys.