Nyad will continue chasing 'Xtreme dream'
Diana Nyad ended her TEDMED speech with a spirited bugle call
October 27th, 2011
12:08 PM ET

Nyad will continue chasing 'Xtreme dream'

Diana Nyad may have had some setbacks this summer while attempting to swim from Cuba to Florida, but her journey isn't over yet, she said Wednesday.

"I can swim from Cuba to Florida, and I will swim from Cuba to Florida," she said at the TEDMED conference in Coronado, California. Nyad received a standing ovation after her inspirational presentation.

Nyad, now 62, recalled feeling a sense of malaise when she turned 60, unsatisfied with her life thus far. "I couldn’t forgive myself for the countless hours I’d lost in negative thoughts," she said.

She needed "an elevated dream." Nyad sought "something that would require utter conviction and unwavering passion." And so began her Xtreme Dream, which CNN covered in a documentary by that name. She would set out to swim the 103 miles between Cuba and Florida, a journey she had tried but failed to complete in 1978. It was the only world-class swim she had started but didn't finish.

It had been 31 years since Nyad had swum, but she was determined, even though the preparation was grueling. She trained for two years, swimming up to 12 hours a day. Despite a stylized TEDMED photo of Nyad grinning in a bathing cap, she has no recollection of that. "When you’re training for this sport, you are not smiling," she said Wednesday.

Long-distance swimming is like a microcosm life itself, Nyad says: You're going to hit obstacles, and you're going feel pain and suffering. She expected to hit some challenges in her quest this summer, but there were some surprises when she actually started the swim.

Twenty-nine hours in, her attempt in August ended after battling asthma and shoulder pain.

Her try in September also ended prematurely, after 40 hours in the water. She felt like her body was immersed in boiling hot oil when she got attacked by box jellyfish. She showed the TEDMED audience red marks on her arm from the barbs that shot venom into her body, temporarily paralyzing her and putting her in excruciating pain.

"My journey now is to find some sort of grace in the face of this defeat," she said. "I can look at the journey, not just the destination."

But the ocean is still there, and the journey is not yet over. Nyad said her hope is "still alive" that she will complete this swim.

"Why can’t you get the destination and the journey? That’s what I want to know," she said.

soundoff (645 Responses)
  1. Selena

    This woman needs to have her head examined. Stop obsessing, sister, and act your age!

    October 27, 2011 at 14:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • enfante

      true dat, what sane person would attempt this, its all for the media and her pocket book. before the media exhisted, lets say 200 years ago, no one would have tried this cause there was nothing to gain! its all about the green backs, her and her partner both know this!!!!!

      October 27, 2011 at 18:19 | Report abuse |
    • Leah B Encouraged Alvarado

      I do agree with pixilator, however she is aware of the conditions and risks more than you or I. She knows the dangers that could befall her and yet she's not afraid to brave that ocean. Something could go wrong but if we all thought like that imjine what this wourld would b a sad place with no answers only what if's. I may b all heart but if she believes that she can do this and reach that other shore then why wont you have some faith and stop discouraging. My parents taught me as a child learning to ride a bike, try-try again. In your later years that kind of faith in herself, confidence that she can, is inspirational. I know I will be routing her whole-heartedly on that day.

      October 27, 2011 at 18:28 | Report abuse |
    • Watch Discovery Channel

      Last time I checked, box jellyfish kill people after a short time. I also remember the original reports saying she was stung by a Man-o-war, which don't kill people, just leave them in excruciating pain, which is what she was feeling. Box jellyfish aren't known to be around the area between Cuba and Florida, but over in Austrailia.

      basically what I'm getting at is that the media loves overhyping things. To the point anyone can tell it's being overexaggerated. She has failed twice, once because she couldn't breathe, the second time because she got face raped by a jellyfish. It's only logical to believe the third time she will get eaten by the Loch Ness Monster.

      October 31, 2011 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
  2. jb

    This lady needs some mental health treatment soon.

    October 27, 2011 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Gail

    "Nothing in the world can take place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.' by Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the U.S.

    October 27, 2011 at 16:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Shaun

    Selena, you're absolutely right. How dare she try to be something better or challenge herself. Go sit down on the couch and watch tv like the rest of America.

    October 27, 2011 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Selena

      Shaun, there is no need to be sarcastic. I am not advocating sitting on the couch and watching TV. Nyad can swim all she wants and do other sports to stay fit and healthy. But, at age 62, pushing herself to a goal she was unable to achieve even when she was much younger is at best foolish. At worst, she is either clinically obsessive or publicity-seeking. There is nothing heroic or admirable about this behavior, just pathetic.

      October 27, 2011 at 20:57 | Report abuse |
  5. Sean

    Its inspiring to see someone taking on something they are so passionate about. While her motivation might have been sparked by dissatisfaction with her previous accomplishments, I'd wage that Nyad is truly passionate about her long distance swimming. How could she not be and continue to be so persistent? Negativity could not drive someone to push themselves that hard–only positive thinking could. This is inspiring–not for other to follow her lead and swim for hours and hours–but for others to find something that they are so passionate about.

    October 27, 2011 at 17:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Selena

      Shaun, I see your point about the importance of being passionate about something, like a sport, but it should be combined with wisdom and knowledge of your limitations. An uncle of mine was a marathon runner when in his 30s and 40s. At first he just enjoyed the action, but then he became obsessed with winning. Until finally, in one race he pushed himself so hard he had a heart attack. Luckily it was minor and he recovered, but he was wise enough to stop running-to-win. He realized that it was unrealistic and dangerous for him. Instead, he involved himself in jogging, hiking, sailing, and cross-country skiing. He was passionate about these sports and kept pursuing them into his 80s. His goals were enjoyment, proficiency, and good health–both physical and mental. As for Nyad, she already pushed herself to the point of getting ill in previous races, and I see nothing admirable in that kind of "passion."

      October 31, 2011 at 13:36 | Report abuse |
    • Selena

      I intended my other comment as a reply to your post, not Shaun's. Sorry.

      October 31, 2011 at 13:39 | Report abuse |
  6. pixilator

    I can understand Nyad's dream and determination. I think it is admirable; though, it is my opinion that she will need nothing less than absolute pristine conditions in order for her to complete this task. There are just too many variables. There comes a point when a person has to say, "I did my level best, and that is the best I can do."

    October 27, 2011 at 18:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Wendy Wilson

    I have been in the same pool with Diana during her training swims. All that I can say is that her energy, passion and commitment are palpable and I have great respect for her VERY extreme dream. How many of us are courageous enough to aim so high?

    October 27, 2011 at 19:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. drudown

    Diana, I have an idea.

    Why don't you swim to Cuba and then talk about it?

    You are no more credible than Uncle Rico claiming he can "throw a football over that mountain" save that you are 20 years older and have already failed.

    Get a life. This is isn't news. Your ego might be as big as Cuba, but you are an old woman on HGH. Go away.

    October 28, 2011 at 02:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Portland tony

    She obviously can't let it go. So what? If she were to swim the Atlantic ocean...So what? Doing what others could not is a human trait. "To go where no man has ......yada ...yada"

    October 28, 2011 at 11:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Humberto Capiro

    Diana Nyad is a self-promoter that is running out of juice.

    October 28, 2011 at 11:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. urnchurl

    Just goes to show that the waters that desperate Cubans traverse to escape tyranny are not at all trivial.

    December 11, 2011 at 19:36 | Report abuse | Reply
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  14. taymeya jones

    happy birthday diana wishing you a happy birthday from ms.torres class at summerour middle school. try again our class romm is watching you right now!
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    August 24, 2012 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
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    happy bday from summerour middle school

    August 24, 2012 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
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