I’m not a math person, but Diana Nyad’s numbers concerning her successful 2013 swim from Cuba to Florida, discussed in her new autobiography*, Find a Way (2015), are so astounding, even I have to start off with them:
64: Nyad’s age during her final and successful crossing
5: Cuba-Florida attempts by Nyad during her 60s (Nyad also made an attempt while in her 20s, so her true Cuba-Florida total is six)
110.86: Miles swum during her final and successful attempt
52 hours, 54 minutes, 18 seconds: Continuous swim time of her 2013 crossing
My amazement doesn’t stop with just the basic numbers though. I was stunned to learn that Nyad started training and made her first crossing attempt all within the same year, after being out of the water for the previous 30 years. This is incredible from the swimmer’s perspective, because we all know that a week out of the water feels like a month.
Swim geeks like me will love reading the details concerning Nyad’s training, nutrition, and tweaks to both, with many of the latter inspired by epic “never saw that coming” events which occurred during training and crossing attempts. Be sure to check out Nyad’s swim log in the back of the book as well. Even seeing it neatly typed up and in black and white, it’s still incredibly hard to wrap your mind around her training.
Open water (OW) specialists will particularly appreciate Nyad’s incredible focus, determination, and dedication throughout her training and five attempts. After all, it’s one thing to coordinate components of a challenging OW swim such as ship rentals, handlers, kayakers, feedings, navigation, safety, chaffing prevention, and more, on top of the required massive training.
But now imagine also preparing for crazy currents, high winds, boat-sinking-storms, needing entry visas from a closed, communist country, and deadly sea creatures (most notably sharks and box jelly fish, the latter which required extreme measures of protection that I simply can’t imagine doing while swimming under any circumstances, let alone an extreme crossing). The Gulf Stream is often not kind to ships, let alone solo swimmers. And, now imagine the money to be raised for such a venture. Times FIVE. Oh, and planning to swim for 50 hours straight, at least.
While I’m aware that non-swimmers are unlikely to pick up a swim autobiography, those same readers will appreciate the twin survival stories presented in Find a Way–the compelling ultra-athlete-in-a-hostile-environment swim attempts and Nyad’s coming to terms with incredibly tough childhood events.
Furthermore, Find a Way is never dull, thanks to Nyad’s fascinating background, globe-trotting work, and shoulder-rubbing with famous people, all peppered with Nyad’s ironic, dry humor.
Finally, the overall message of Find a Way, that life isn’t over at any age and thus you should always reach for your dreams, is universally appealing and uplifting. At the conclusion of Find a Way, readers will feel Nyad’s urgings to get engaged in with their life, whatever “engagement” means to them individually.
*Nyad’s first autobiography, Other Shores, was published when she was still in her twenties.
Swimming Autobiographies Update: One of the wishes I made in an earlier post has come true — Jessica Hardy has published her auto-bio, Swimming toward the Gold Lining. You can bet I’ve already requested a copy!
Next week: Preferred Morning Swim Smoothie