Today is Friday, September 6, 2013.
On her fifth attempt, 64-year-0ld Diana Nyad successfully swam 110 miles from Havana, Cuba, to Key West, Florida, without a shark cage. Her marathon swim lasted 53 hours, and she did battle with pain, constant vomiting and asthma to attain a goal that she had first attempted in 1978, at the age of 28. Her mantra: “Find a way.”
She says that her most important message to others is, “Never, ever give up. You are never too old to chase your dreams.” Many experts are now saying that it wasn’t just the physical training or Nyad’s impressive physique that made it possible for her to attain her goal. Nor was it her 35-person support team or the various protective gear she wore, including a shark mask, full body suit, and booties. It was her mental attitude, her belief that she could accomplish the goal, that allowed her to transcend the pain to meet the goal. As you can see from the photo, her prolonged exposure to salt water and the elements in general produced a great deal of facial swelling, and she remarked after her swim that she still had painful lesions in her mouth.
The photo at left shows Nyad as she normally looks, illustrating just how much swelling she suffered during her swim.
Poet Edgar A. Guest (1881-1959) is credited with writing the poem,”Don’t Quit,” although there is a slightly different version credited to Alice Enzie Zimmerman. I’m using the Guest version below. I like to think that Diana Nyad would agree with the sentiments of this poem.
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When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out–
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
– Edgar A. Guest
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To me, Nyad’s successful swim just goes to show that life is not over when we enter our 60s, and that our dreams can still come true. I can still achieve my dreams, and you can, too. 🙂