Diana Nyad Focuses on 103-Mile Record
BY Michelle Garcia
July 20 2011 12:25 PM ET
Marathon swimmer and sportscaster Diana Nyad will embark on a 103-mile trip from the shores of Cuba to the Florida Keys with hopes of breaking her own 32-year-old world record for a long-distance swim in an open ocean.
Nyad, 61, is planning for a 60-hour swim during which she will not be protected by a shark cage. In 1997 an Australian woman swam the same distance in a shark cage, which was also pulled by a boat, which allowed her to finish the trek in less than 24 hours, according to The New York Times.
"Until a year ago, I hadn’t swum a stroke for 31 years," Nyad said on her website.
"Swimmer’s burnout gripped me to the point that I could have sworn I would never, ever swim a lap again in my life. But approaching 60 last year threw me into the existential angst of wondering what I had done with my life. I felt choked by how little time seemed left. I started swimming a few laps, just to take some pressure off the knees from all the other activities I enjoy."
From there, Nyad built upon her workouts until she felt she could swim the 103-mile journey. She said she now feels stronger than she did when she was 28, even if she isn't as fast.
For this journey, Nyad will be joined by a 22-person support team. While
she will likely experience jellyfish stings, raw skin from the salty
water, and the possibility of a shark encounter, Nyad's $500,000
adventure will be aided by technology that was unavailable to her for
her first attempt in 1978, including advanced navigation software and
shark shields. This will be the second attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida for Nyad, who once attempted the feat at age 28, restrained by a shark cage. Treacherous weather and disabling currents forced her to stop after 41 hours, but a year later, in 1979, Nyad swam 102 miles from the Bahamas to Jupiter, Fla., without a shark cage. Her record for the world's longest ocean swim still stands.