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Diana Nyad: 5 Facts, or How a Swimming Legend Helped Me Do My Laundry

Diana Nyad headshot

I didn’t know who Diana Nyad was until I tuned in to NPR while I was cooking eggs this morning. Which is when I learned the first thing (which is actually a few things, but it’s the basics, so we’ll call it one thing).

If you don’t have time to read this whole post, just the numbered bits will do.

I took the eggs off the burner (It’s unusual for me to remember a basic safety measure like this, I was clearly inspired) and ran into the living room to tell my fiance about her.

1. Diana Nyad is a 64-year-old (!) endurance swimmer, who at the time of the report was just a few miles from being the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida… wait for it… without a shark cage.

Any spare moment I had the rest of today was spent reading about her, following her blog, and checking her progress. Which is ironic since the times I wasn’t doing that I was feeling bad for myself for having to complete such heroic feats as doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom, and filling in more wedding spreadsheets. My anxiety doesn’t like for me to do chores. Chores require a certain peace of mind and focus that I’m still cultivating.

Turns out she tried this before with a shark cage, but poisonous jellyfish kept getting stuck in there with her, so she had to abort.

2. Diana Nyad has attempted to swim from Cuba to Florida four other times over the past 35 years.

For more years than I’ve been alive she has been training like crazy, then attempting and failing at something so huge that a ton of media outlets were following her to make sure everyone was well aware of her failures.

Perfectionism is another sweet little anxiety offshoot. My stress over choosing the wrong kind of tablecloths for the wedding was significantly lessened.

3. A crew of 35 people, including divers who swam ahead of her and captured jellyfish in her path, assisted her.

I learned this at about the time when my parents came by to drop off a bunch of firewood they cut from one of their trees. We’re going to use it to throw a baby shower bonfire party here for a friend in a few weeks. We took turns loading it onto a little cart so my fiancé could wheel it to the side of the house.

4. Overnight last night, Diana Nyad decided not to tread water for a few minutes in order to eat, because stopping would cause her core temperature to drop to hypothermia levels.

I was chewing some delicious reheated garlic veggies with tofu at this point. Belly full, I tackled more laundry and even rinsed off all our sandy surfing gear with gusto. June sprinted by about 20 times, each time giving the water stream a good bite.

5. In a 2011 interview with the LA Times, she said, “I am stunned, at age 61, at how fast it all flies by,” explaining her motivation to keep going. “My mom just died. We blink and another decade passes. I don’t want to reach the end of my life and regret not having given my days everything in me to make them worthwhile.”

I had a long chat with my sister later today. I shared my completely insane travel schedule for the next month, but remembered, as I shared, the things I’ll be traveling for: my family, two weddings of good friends, a meeting, in other words, the things that make life rich. The things that make it worthwhile.

I stopped fretting over life being hectic and started thanking my lucky stars that it is.

In case you’re not in the mood to infer, here are the 5 lessons I took away from my 5 Diana Nyad facts:

1. You are never too old to chase your dreams – a direct quote from her, shown in the video of her swimming to shore, below.

2. Be patient with yourself.

3. It’s okay to ask for help.

4. Tradeoffs are always going to be a part of life. Accept them, but know when to skip the immediate payoff for the long-term goal.

5. It takes work to make your days worthwhile.

It’s worth the work.


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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Loved this post, Wendy. You got me thinking, too, and feeling less overwhelmed about all my tasks and things I have going on. Diana rocks – I followed this, too!

    September 3, 2013
  2. That is an ACCOMPLISHMENT. Great story and great post!

    September 3, 2013

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