Chasing, and finally catching, her Xtreme Dream was Boomer swimmer, athlete and grandma Diana Nyad’s incredible accomplishment on Labor Day, September 2, 2013. Swimming the 112 statute miles from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage, wet suit or flippers, just a prosthetic mask to fend off jellyfish stings, was the accomplishment of a feat that no one has ever done before. It was the culmination of a long-sought after dream that started some 33 years ago. And the fact that Diana achieved it at age 64 gives a whole new meaning to that old Beatles song that puts “older age” people in a somewhat dotty light.
But there’s nothing dotty about this focused, supremely disciplined and highly trained athlete who has pursued this dream since she was 29 years old. She’s tried, and failed 4 times previously. But, on this 5th try, the Moon, the Sea and all its amazing, yet sometimes deadly creatures like sharks and jellyfish, all agreed it was high time to give this incredible, determined lady her due. Everything cleared the way to help her beat all the odds of ever achieving her dream. Even a cruise boat changed its course for her to pass safely.
Diana tells the story of being presaged, at a very young age, by her stepfather, Aristotle Nyad, that she would be a great swimmer some day. She has certainly lived up to his prophecy. She has been an athlete for the most part of her life – starting swimming in high school – winning medals and competitions in several areas. She also became an author, journalist and motivational speaker. She was inducted into the United States National Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1986 and in 2003 into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. She and her now life partner, Bonnie Stoll, both run BravaBody, a fitness program they designed aimed specifically at women over 40 desiring to achieve fitness.
When Diana landed at her destination in Key West, Florida, she stumbled just briefly on trying to stand and walk out of the water after being in it for 53+ hours. Yet, the first words that came out of her mouth were that of final victory and hope for anyone who has a long-held dream…“Never give up…you’re never too old to chase your dream.”
For all Boomer girls and guys around the world who still dare to dream Xtreme – Diana you made us proud.