Diana Nyad to Try Cuba-Florida Swim Again in 2012
It's not correct to say that open-water endurance swimmer Diana Nyad doesn't give up easily. Apparently, she doesn't give up -- ever.
Nyad, who will turn 63 in August, still has her heart set on swimming from Havana to Key West, a feat that she first tried back in 1978 and then twice attempted unsuccessfully in 2011, after being away from competitive swimming for more than three decades. This week, she announced on her blog that she again will attempt the Cuba-to-Florida swim this summer. It's a hallmark that has only been accomplished once before -- in 1997, by 22-year-old Australian swimmer Susie Maroney. Nyad not only is four decades older, but also would be the first swimmer to do it without a protective shark cage.
Trying the 103-mile swim again is a particularly bold act for Nyad, considering that on her last attempt in September, she endured multiple Portuguese Man-of-War and jellyfish attacks. The cumulative effects of the toxic venom temporarily left her partially paralyzed and made it difficult to breathe. At the time, she told CNN that she would not make another attempt. "I can't beat those guys. They're too much for me," Nyad said. According to this December 2011 New York Times Magazine profile, even Nyad's close friend and business partner Bonnie Stoll said she hoped Nyad would give up her longtime ambition because "you know, it's enough already."
But since the ordeal, Nyad has recovered her legendary resolve. "I'm a little bit afraid," Nyad concedes in her blog post. "The pressure's on. This time I've got to make it." Her motivation, she says, is proving to her legions of fans around the world that "all your dreams are attainable."
Nyad already is in St. Maarten in the Caribbean, in heavy training for the event. She is building up her endurance with open-water workouts that last as long as 12 hours.
Nyad says she believes she has the swimming skill and muscular and cardiovascular endurance to conquer the 103-mile distance. She says that what she lacked in 2011 was adequate protection against jellyfish stings. She says her team is working with swimsuit designers to come up with "jellyfish armor" that will enable her to succeed this time. "The jellyfish are a conundrum we have not yet solved, but we will get there," she says.
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