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With Nyad: Wind, water and one woman's drive
August 8th, 2011
07:06 PM ET

With Nyad: Wind, water and one woman's drive

It’s the wind against the water. As our boat, the Gulf Steam surges East, the windows are blowing against the current, whipping the water into choppy 2-3 foot seas. The flat calm of Cuba is gone, conditions turned from perfect to passable.

Follow Nyad on CNN's tracker

Amidst it all, Diana Nyad keeps swimming at a consistent 52 strokes-per-minute. When the pace slips higher or lower, handlers counting each hand-slap know it’s time to call her in for hydration or food.

At Diana’s request, handlers have just changed the schedule to nourish her more often—fluids every 30 minutes and food every hour.

Surrounding the lone 61-year-old swimmer, an armada of sea craft act in support. Teams of handlers and boat drivers on the 75-foot yacht Bellisimo take turns resting, then move to Voyager, the customized vessel that accompanies Diana. On either side of Diana, towing powerful Shark Shields to deter predators, two sea kayakers match her every move. In all, more than 45 people are accompanying Diana in her record-setting attempt to swim without a shark cage from Cuba to Florida.

Every two hours, a small dingy makes the rounds from boat to boat, delivering new crew members to the boat where they belong. The winds make tendering treacherous, with sea conditions hazardous. And, if it’s rocky for a 75-foot boat—imagine the toll on a 61-year-old swimmer after almost 24 hours in the water.

Despite the challenges—the aching shoulder, the nagging asthma, the rocky conditions for the support team—Diana is a bulldog, tenaciously if slowly making progress.

Follow CNN aboard Nyad's boat on Twitter

Editor's note: Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a look at "Diana Nyad: Xtreme Dream" Saturday, September 17, 8 p.m. ET.


soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. TX swimmer

    awesome!

    August 8, 2011 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • GB

      DITTO!! She accomplished more than she knows!

      August 9, 2011 at 09:22 | Report abuse |
  2. Najuma Comissiong

    Wow. But why? Is it just a personal lifelong goal, or will the swim generate revenue for charity or something? There has to be something more behind this feat. At least I hope so.

    August 8, 2011 at 19:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • not a swimmer, but a huge fan

      Why do you hope there is something more? Someone's personal dream or goal can be just that. Stop the judgement and cheer her on. She is doing something amazing. Recognize it.

      August 8, 2011 at 19:55 | Report abuse |
    • Shanti

      Why, how about because she can! Its the journey not the reason or outcome that matter. This wonderful lady is living to her full potential!!! Thats a lot more than many 61 year olds or anybody else for that matter can say!
      She is an inspiration for all of us to live to our own full potential or at least try to.
      Living is so much better for an individual than just existing.

      August 8, 2011 at 19:59 | Report abuse |
    • GoForYourDream

      It is a test of extreme human endurance, it means a lot to all mankind. You and I cannot do it, lets praise someone who can and open your heart.

      August 8, 2011 at 21:51 | Report abuse |
    • SupermanEX

      Some old dude who tried to prove something in a triathlon died this weekend... do this at your on risk!

      August 8, 2011 at 23:54 | Report abuse |
  3. Deen

    Good luck and god bless all the way to Cuba till you reach your goal and dream. Keep at it. One stroke at a time.

    August 8, 2011 at 20:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Deen

      all the way to Florida is what meant lol.

      August 8, 2011 at 20:04 | Report abuse |
  4. John

    What a great role model. Stories about people fulfilling their dreams, whether it's someone in their 80s doing an Ironman or Diana pushing the limits of endurance doesn't matter. It's showing the rest of us that there are still Everests to climb! Keep those arms cranking Diana!!!

    August 8, 2011 at 20:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. L

    GO GIRL!! WHAT A WONDERFUL MOTIVATION YOU ARE TO ANY OF US IN YOUR AGE GROUP AS WELL AS THE YOUNGUNS'...BEST WISHES!!!

    August 8, 2011 at 20:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. tammie

    you are amazing. keep making those strokes lovely lady–your light is so bright, it is contagious. my daughter and i are trying to keep up with what is happening with you. God speed!
    (wish we could see live footage. does anyone know a site where we might view live or near to live coverage?)

    August 8, 2011 at 21:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Helena

    I AM CHEERING YOUR EVERY STROKE. HEARING YOU SAY YOU FEEL YOU ARE IN YOUR PRIME AT 61 AND HAVE STILL SO MUCH MORE TO GIVE AND TO DO AND TO EXPERIENCE MAKES YOU A GREAT ROLE MODEL FOR ANYONE FEELING ALREADY TOO OLD FOR ANYTHING, LET ALONE FOLLOWING A DREAM – EVEN AT 40. OUR YOUTH-ORIENTED CULTURE MAKES EVERYTHING A STRUGGLE FOR WOMEN – ESPECIALLY AFTER THEY HAVE PASSED THE SHORT STRETCH OF YOUTH. MAY ALL THE FORCES BE WITH YOU IN THIS CHALLENGE!

    August 8, 2011 at 21:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Lucas Lautman

    Well done, but unfortunately three people are swimming the Bering Strait this week... I think that calls for a little more attention than the warm waters of the Caribbean.

    August 8, 2011 at 22:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • json

      are they in their 60s as well?

      August 8, 2011 at 22:30 | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      And I'll wager that none of them are 61 year old women. I think this story calls for more attention.

      August 8, 2011 at 22:38 | Report abuse |
  9. Lynn Marchant

    You are an inspiration to all. what a positive and empowering human being you are. Keep the faith.

    August 8, 2011 at 22:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Frederick

    Diana and I went to junior high school together in Ft. Lauderdale. She was special even back then. Her desire to excel was ever present. And now, at 61 she is a shining light to all of those who still have dreams they wish to fulfill. God Bless Diana and all the best in making this journey.

    August 8, 2011 at 22:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. balex

    The reason why she is doing? Simple. Attention. . And seeking attention is not bad.

    August 8, 2011 at 22:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Sandra Williford

    I am a Nyad fan and have a boundless admiration for her efforts, and following her progress intensively at this time. I don't think there is a cancelling out of either Diana's or anyone's efforts as athletes...we are graced with them together. I do also wnat to comment on Jennifer's piece above...beautifully done...and I do not give that kind of praise lightly or wholesale!

    August 8, 2011 at 22:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. GeoBonsai

    What's with CNN??? They're not posting any videos of Diana Nyad's historic 103-mile, open-ocean swim from Cuba to Key West, Florida. What's the internet for if not to track a swimmer, swimming slow and steady, accompanied by several support boats ??? Go, Diana, go! Touch the other shore for all us boomers (and everyone else on Earth who will some day in the future blink and suddenly realize that 61 years have passed by.) Godspeed, gal!

    August 8, 2011 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Lokken

    A lot of us are wondering why there has been so little coverage! Matt's tweets are few and far between. This is SUCH an historic event, so positive & exciting... there should be a lot more on-going coverage.
    I'm praying and sending all my good vibes to Diana! You are amazing!

    August 9, 2011 at 00:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. GeoBonsai

    Diana Nyad, the swimmer who attempted to swim between Cuba and Florida without a shark cage, is out of the water.

    August 9, 2011 at 01:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Marie P.

    .......................it is better to die doing something you love then not love what you are doing and die'

    Nyad truly exhibits the mindset of that tenacious American characteristic of those who attempt to try and succeed. Going beyond what is normally achievable is what made and will continue to make this country great. We need many more people of all ages like Nyad trying to go beyond the 'status quo'

    August 9, 2011 at 07:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Cookie

    Diana's 30 hour swim is a huge accomplishment. Her feat inspired me and every other older woman who is trying to live fully. You did just that Diana. Damn those winds and high seas; that happens in life, but Diana's energy and optimism continues. Thanks Diana for giving us such an exciting event. I am eager to hear what she has to say about all of this.

    August 9, 2011 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Steve

    This was a good story, however, there is currently an american cyclist, Max McManus riding through all 50 states in 50 days as a tribute ride for our soldiers and the victims of 9/11. The Freedom 50/50. He has been on the road for almost 20 days and is on track to acomplish his goal of arriving at ground zero on the 50th day of the 50th state. In these difficult times with the economy, recent stock market collapse, and the Seal Team 6 tragedy we could all use a “feel good” story like this. Another story that desrves the same attention...

    August 9, 2011 at 17:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mena

      So true! Max McManus is 9 days out from biking into ground zero! Not only will he have risen through all 50 states in 50 days, riding over 150 miles every day continuously, but he will have helped unite our country, raise awareness and funds for our veterans, fallen heroes, and the 9/11 foundation, but will have broken a world record. He's ride into Ground Zero is sure to be an emotional roller coaster! Support him at http://www.freedom5050.com

      September 4, 2011 at 01:50 | Report abuse |
  19. Dayna Stewart

    Praxis- means not only to try, but also to penetrate, to fight, to give in, to win, to lose, to kneel down, to get up, to accept the struggle and fight until the last breath.....

    Diana is the definition of "Praxis"

    August 9, 2011 at 21:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Go Diana!!!

    See how difficult it is for some people to immigrate to America. LOL But seriously, not to belittle the effort, that ocean water was getting very choppy. She was getting pounded by 1 to 3 inch swells! Throw in the asthma and shoulder pain on top of everything. And then ending-up 15 miles off course. Diana tried to swim "straight" but that was not an option because...

    August 10, 2011 at 04:52 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.