The 61-Year-Old and Her 60-Hour Swim

Diana Nyad proves that courage is in the attempt and not the outcome

No shark cage. No breaks out of water. No choice but to go after a life-long dream. Those were the rules 61-year-old Diana Nyad gave herself for the 103-mile, two-and-a-half-day swim that began in Havana, Cuba at 7:45pm Sunday night.  By 12:45am Tuesday morning, 29 hours into the swim and half way to the finish line, the swim was over -- ocean swells, shoulder pain, asthma and nausea had just become too much. 

While it is hard to not feel defeated, it is even harder to ignore this amazing 61-year-old woman's fighting spirit. She trained every day for two years -- swimming up to 12 hours a day. She knew she would be swimming in shark-infested waters but rejected the use of a shark cage that would not only protect her but make for an easier swim.

"I would be lying to say I'm not deeply, deeply disappointed," she told CNN on Tuesday. "This was a big dream, not just of the last two years, but some 30 years....I can't be the swimmer that I am today but, I will tell you another thing, I was a person I can be proud of....We were the best we could be."

Nyad had attempted the swim from Cuba to Florida in 1978, but was forced to call it quits after 41 hours and 54 minutes, due to terrible weather conditions. Thirty-three years later, and at more than twice the age, she tried again and made it halfway through. She remains the current record-holder for the longest cage-free ocean swim (a title she earned with a 102-mile swim from the Bahamas to Florida in 1979).  

She said she swam simply to inspire. ”I feel the collective presence of people my age. And I hope they are going to see me and say, 'Did you see that? That woman went back and chased her dreams. And all of us can. It’s not too late to do everything we want in life! I am not irrelevant and I want to feel my power,'” she said in a video posted on her site.

Well, Diana, we certainly feel your power. And we are forever inspired by your determination and courage. If only we could all be this fearless!

What is your lifelong dream? Chime in below and share it with us.

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