Diana Nyad Completes 110-mile Cuba to Florida Swim; Breaks Record at 64

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Greek-American swimmer Diana Nyad completes 110-mile Cuba to Florida Swim. Diana broke the world record at 64. As soon as she waded ashore she said to a cheering crowd: “We should never, ever give up … You never are too old to chase your dreams.”

After more than 52 hours of swimming, Diana Nyad, 64, has made history, swimming from Cuba to Florida without a protective shark cage or the help of flippers.

Nyad, began the swim from Cuba in the morning of August 31, 2013. This was her fifth bid to swim from Havana, Cuba to Florida, a distance of about 110 miles (177 kilometers), accompanied by a 35-person support team, swimming without a shark cage but protected from jellyfish by a silicone mask, a full bodysuit, gloves and booties.

Jellyfish stings have helped thwart her attempts before, so divers were swimming ahead of her, collecting jellyfish and moving them out of Nyad’s path.

Before reaching Florida, she broke Penny Palfrey’s 2012 distance record for the Cuba to Florida swim, putting Nyad closer to Key West than anyone swimming without a shark cage.

At approximately 1:55 pm EDT on September 2, 2013, Nyad emerged onto the beach in Key West, about 53 hours after she began her journey.

Dozens of onlookers — some in kayaks and boats, others wading in the water or standing on shore — cheered her on as she wrapped up the swim.

She set a record for the longest ocean swim without a shark cage or flippers, according to her crew.

Watch Diana Nyad as she arrives in Key West, FL:

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Besides being a long-distance swimmer noted for her world-record endurance championships, Diana Nyad is also an American author and journalist. She has authored three books, Other Shores (Random House: September 1978) about her life and distance swimming, Basic Training for Women (Harmony Books: 1981), and in 1999 she wrote a biography of an NFL wide-receiver Boss of Me: The Keyshawn Johnson Story. She has also written for The New York Times, Newsweek magazine, and other publications.

Nyad was born in New York City on August 22, 1949 to stockbroker William Sneed and his wife Lucy Curtis. Her father died when she was three and her mother soon remarried Aristotle Nyad, a Greek land developer, who adopted Diana.

The family then moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she grew up and began swimming seriously in seventh grade. She won three Florida state high school championships in the Backstroke at 100 and 200 yards (91 and 183m).

She dreamed of swimming in the 1968 Summer Olympics, but in 1966 she spent three months in bed with endocarditis, an infection of the heart, and when she began swimming again she had lost her speed.

Later on, she came to the attention of Buck Dawson, director of the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Florida, who introduced her to marathon swimming. She began training at his Camp Ak-O-Mak in Ontario, Canada and set a women’s world record of 4 hours and 22 minutes in her first race, a 10-mile (16km) swim in Lake Ontario in July 1970 (finishing 10th overall).

Over two days in 1979, Nyad swam from Bimini to Florida, setting a distance record for non-stop swimming without a wetsuit that still stands today. She broke numerous world records, including the 45-year-old mark for circling Manhattan Island (7 hrs, 57 min) in 1975. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1986. She was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2003.

In her 1978 autobiography Nyad described marathon swimming as a battle for survival against a brutal foe — the sea — and the only victory possible is to “touch the other shore.”

Watch Diana’s latest speech at Tedx Berlin where she also talks about how her Greek father inspired her to become a swimmer.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Nyad is not Greek-American. She was adopted by her mother’s second husband who happened to be Greek, and also happened to sexually abuse her as a child.

    • @Tod Bonicher.

      Your posted account is not accurate, Yes her step father was Greek (and her mother French) but it was not her Greek step father who molested her. It was her swimming coach who molested her

      I searched everywhere and the only two references I found follow below.

      Nyew York Times
      Reflections on a Secret Life in Professional Sports
      By ROBERT LIPSYTE
      Published: September 12, 1999

      ”Breaking the Silence: Gays and Lesbians in Professional Sports.” Diana Nyad, broadcaster and

      long-distance swimming legend, described an attempted rape, when she was 14, by her coach.

      New Times News
      Jack and Diana

      Swimmer Diana Nyad says coach Jack Nelson molested her 40 years ago. Now Nelson´s returning fire.
      A A AComments (2) By Ashley Harrell Thursday, Jun 14 2007

      Jack Nelson´s swimmers have called him a second father.

      South Florida newspapers call him an icon. His lawyer says he´s ¨a national treasure.¨

      And Diana Nyad, his former swimmer, says Nelson was a sexual predator. Nyad, a former distance swimming sensation who now works as a sports journalist, has claimed that Nelson sexually assaulted her and other young women while he was their high school swim coach.

      • Perhaps I stand corrected on the abuse part, for which I apologize, but she is no more Greek than I am for having married a one.

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