Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


You Go, 61-year-old Girl!
August 7, 2011 9:24 PM   Subscribe

Diana Nyad is in the water! One of the world's greatest long-distance swimmers from age 20 - 30, Nyad set records and was a media sensation. And then, after famously failing in a swim from Cuba to Florida (rough water sent her far off course), she quit -- and didn't swim a stroke for 30 years. As age 60 approached, however, she got remotivated to tackle the one challenge that got away. No shark cage, no wetsuit, and an estimated 60 hours of swimming to go. CNN's tracking map.
posted by BlahLaLa (41 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Diana Nyad?
posted by wanderingmind at 9:36 PM on August 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


And then, after famously failing in a swim from Cuba to Florida (rough water sent her far off course), she quit -- and didn't swim a stroke for 30 years.

Um, what? In this article it says she did a 102 mile swim a year after her failed Cuba to Florida swim.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:36 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


wandermind,

Yeah, it's a strange coincidence that her stepfather's name was Nyad. It's a great aptonym.

From Wikipedia: After graduating Pine Crest School in 1967 she entered Emory University but was thrown out of school for jumping out a fourth-floor dormitory window wearing a parachute.
posted by lukemeister at 9:43 PM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


What a badass.
posted by june made him a gemini at 9:46 PM on August 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


MaryDellamorte: Her 102-mile swim was from Bimini, Bahamas, not Cuba. This swim will be slightly longer (by a mile or two, from the various articles). Arguably, the current will be more favorable since she'll have some of the Florida Current pushing her, but the sea along her swim is very hazardous.
posted by introp at 9:46 PM on August 7, 2011


Oops, *wanderingmind*. Clearly mine wandered while responding.
posted by lukemeister at 9:47 PM on August 7, 2011


Yeah! I've been waiting for her to take off. Thanks for this!
posted by rtha at 9:52 PM on August 7, 2011


MaryDellamorte: Her 102-mile swim was from Bimini, Bahamas, not Cuba.

I know that. I was pointing out the misinformation in the statement that she "didn't swim a stroke in 30 years" after her failed Cuba to Florida swim. She did swim more strokes because a year later she swam 102 miles from Bimini to Florida.

From the article:

Ms. Nyad attempted this swim once before, unsuccessfully, in 1978 at the age of 28. She swam inside a shark cage for 41 hours 49 minutes until the raucous weather and powerful current pushed her far off course and she was forced to give up. She had traveled only 50 miles. (One year later, she swam 102 miles from Bimini, in the Bahamas, to Jupiter, Fla., without a shark cage. She still holds the record for the world’s longest ocean swim.)
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:57 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Godspeed.
posted by cookie-k at 10:09 PM on August 7, 2011


This isn't a tie-in with Shark Week, is it?
posted by andoatnp at 10:13 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


And all this time I just knew her as the host of the Savvy Traveler.
posted by norm at 10:27 PM on August 7, 2011


With or without Chris Eliot?
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:32 PM on August 7, 2011


"I've never been very worried about the cosmetics of getting older; you know, you get a little more fat on the body, you get a few more wrinkles on the face; and, um, you know I'm not all neurotic and freaked out about that part of getting older. What freaks me out is -- how much time has gone by, and how little time is left. And when the swim is over, I'm not gonna be swimming any more, but I want to live my life that way, every day. I just want to come up with, whether it's being the best friend in the world, or, um -- it doesn't matter what it is, but I want to *get up every day with grand gusto* and go to sleep every night saying 'I made that day worthwhile.'"
Diana Nyad

What a spectacular human being.

I mean, my day tomorrow is going to a buddies house to pick up a compressor I'm borrowing to blow out A/C drain lines, go look at a pickup I'm interested in, do other work on my current pickup, and scratch myself. I'm over here moaning about a long line at the bank or whatever and this woman is going to swim from Cuba to Florida.

(I lived in Florida a hundred years ago, give or take a year of five, my faded youth. Anyways, I lived there long enough to know that there are sharks in the damn water all the damn time, that if the beaches were to be cleared every time there are sharks seen in the water, no one would ever be allowed to swim. And she is swimming without a cage. What a trip! What a woman.)

posted by dancestoblue at 10:49 PM on August 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I really liked her exercise book. Very practical, and I used to be in really nice shape because of it.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:14 PM on August 7, 2011


I did a 3.5k swim this weekend and was really really pleased with the result (1h07m, breast stroke FYI).

Thank you, BlahLaLa, for putting that in perspective.

No really. I mean that.
Almost.

posted by Sourisnoire at 11:56 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nyad's age reminds me of the section in "Born to Run" where Christopher McDougall points out that people run their best marathon times at about 27. However the downward slope of the curve after 27 is much shallower than it is on the other side. Result: 19 year olds run the same average time as 65 year olds. There is something about human physiology the allows veteran endurance athletes to do much better than one would expect. Good luck to her!
posted by rongorongo at 3:23 AM on August 8, 2011


Badassery aside, 500000usd? Sounds like a waste of money.

I wonder how much money all the media whoring brings in, including interviews, books, endorsements, documentaries, etc.
posted by palbo at 3:49 AM on August 8, 2011


When I was a kid, if Evel Knievel wasn't on Wide World of Sports, Diana Nyad was.
posted by JanetLand at 4:37 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reporting live from Key West (where Diana has been a mainstay for some time and is well-loved by many), we are all excited. One of the island's most dependable neighbors and handymen extraordinaire (and my good friend), Buco Pantelis, is one of Diana's support crew on the boat. He can't get over the fact that that's where he is but we always have the most unusual stuff happening around here but he's awesome and she's awesome, so that's that.

Here's Diana in a recent telephone interview from MSNBC.

posted by Mike Mongo at 5:17 AM on August 8, 2011


Long distance swimming is is pretty amazing... it's hard to believe that's even possible. To do it without a wetsuit seems brutal beyond anything I can comprehend, and I've finished 100 mile ultramarathons and whatnot.
posted by ph00dz at 5:20 AM on August 8, 2011


I can barley swim the whole length of a pool, I can't even imagine swimming a mile let alone over a 100. Not to mention swimming in the ocean, it will be interesting to see the map when shes done to see how much she had to compensate for the current.
posted by lilkeith07 at 5:32 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"What freaks me out is -- how much time has gone by, and how little time is left. And when the swim is over, I'm not gonna be swimming any more, but I want to live my life that way, every day. I just want to come up with, whether it's being the best friend in the world, or, um -- it doesn't matter what it is, but I want to *get up every day with grand gusto* and go to sleep every night saying 'I made that day worthwhile.'"

I wish this were phrased less like a beer commercial, but totally inspiring nonetheless. Reminds me that I need to get back to my "Do I really want to be pissing away some of my ever-dwindling bank of minutes on X?" It's an excellent way to whittle down the extraneous crap to its least intrusive level. Time's winged chariot is just another kind of shark.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:06 AM on August 8, 2011


Time's winged chariot is just another kind of shark

And metafilter is my shark cage


posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:28 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


How on earth do you swim long-distance inside a steel shark cage? That sounds impossible.
posted by heatvision at 6:59 AM on August 8, 2011


I had the same question! But I think it probably would just be near the swimmer attached to a boat, and she could pop into it if she needed to.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:06 AM on August 8, 2011


I have a shark cage near me at all times, just in case.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:10 AM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I like how her name is almost a palindrome.
posted by Foosnark at 7:15 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hereby induct Diana Nyad into the Awesome Lesbian Hall of Fame.
posted by Lieber Frau at 7:27 AM on August 8, 2011


Per upthread question: The shark cage used for long distance swimming is designed for that activity and is larger than the little cages used in shark diving..
posted by mightshould at 7:36 AM on August 8, 2011


"Two men in kayaks will follow Ms. Nyad’s every stroke. They will hold a shark shield — neoprene rods that emit electrical waves to zap sharks that come too close. The waters between Cuba and Key West are a notorious shark playground. But the shield is not foolproof. Just in case it fails, as it did last year in the Caribbean when another woman was on a marathon swim, four shark divers with spears will be onboard, ready to jump."

This part definitely bothers me, especially since it's presented as an exciting, "heightened-danger" aspect to the swim. I understand not wanting to swim in a shark cage for reasons like it making the swim too easy due to being pulled along by a boat, but I feel like if you're at the point where the sharks are getting so dangerous you feel you need to kill them, maybe you should just get out of the water instead.

I assume the previous incident they're referring to is this one, which there is now apparently even more controversy over as some people, including the Cayman Islands Tourism Board (shock!), are saying the sharks weren't actually killed after all.
posted by primalux at 7:44 AM on August 8, 2011


Also if you scramble the letters of her first name you can spell naiad. Also Diana is the goddess of the moon and the moon controls the tides.

I've been thinking all week that this woman has the best name / profession synergy ever.
posted by BlueJae at 8:25 AM on August 8, 2011


The shark cage used for long distance swimming is designed for that activity and is larger than the little cages used in shark diving.

Well, duh me, that makes perfect sense -- more of a shark pen.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:19 AM on August 8, 2011


When I was a kid, if Evel Knievel wasn't on Wide World of Sports, Diana Nyad was.

I'm in the same...err...boat. Every time I mentally "hear" the name Diana Nyad, it's invariably in Jim McKay's voice. Awesome name for a swimmer, only improvable by making it a perfect palindrome.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:47 AM on August 8, 2011


What a badass woman, I love people who live life unapologetically.

Also in Key West, should be great when she finishes. Hey Mike Mongo, are you actually Mr. Mongo the mayoral candidate?
posted by tetsuo at 1:03 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of this woman that my wife told me about. Now that's a badass woman.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:22 PM on August 8, 2011


very inspiring.
am i wrong in looking at the tracking chart and thinking she is being carried off course by currents?
posted by phoffmann at 6:17 PM on August 8, 2011


after thinking about it for a few more seconds i assume there is a counter current that they are factoring in.
posted by phoffmann at 6:20 PM on August 8, 2011


CNN is reporting that she had to end her journey early at 12:45 AM with shoulder pain and asthma. She had been in the water for 29 hours before her trip was cut shortm still incredibly impressive.
posted by lilkeith07 at 10:45 PM on August 8, 2011


Yeah, just saw that. Eyeballing the tracking map, she looks to have made it roughly half-way across the straits. Man alive, but she's tough.
posted by jquinby at 8:38 AM on August 9, 2011


Hey Mike Mongo, are you actually Mr. Mongo the mayoral candidate?

2013 don't call it a comeback, I've been here for years.
posted by Mike Mongo at 8:05 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is Rob O'Neal's photo of Diana Nyad facing the press in Key West the day following her having to call it quits. She spent nearly 30 hours in the ocean for a distance of around 50 miles. Unbelievable. What an inspiration.
posted by Mike Mongo at 8:09 AM on August 14, 2011


« Older Heritage Documentation Programs is part of the Nat...  |  Classic Refuse Trucks.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments