Diana Nyad, 5th time's a charm. At 64, the lady is a champ!

clip_image002MANILA, 03 September 2013: After not giving up on her dream of 35 long years, Diana Nyad is a charm; after successfully completing a marathon swim from Cuba to Florida in 3 days non-stop, 31 August to 02 September 2013, Diana Nyad is a champ. She is also a ridiculous champ - she's 64 years old! I'll call her a charmp.

What did Mark Twain say again about age? "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

How did Diana do it? "Perseverance works" is the judgment of Ed Pilkington (02 September 2013, theguardian.com). That's oversimplifying the whole thing. It was more than a swimmer's journey of 110 miles in 54 hours. It was a journey of a thousand miles, and it began with the first step - 35 years ago.

It began with a dream; she now calls it the Xtreme Dream.

1978, 1st attempt. When Diana was 28 years old, she jumped off into the waters of Havana in Cuba and swam towards Key West in Florida. She didn't make it. She swam within a shark cage but she was blown off course and she gave up after 76 miles and 42 hours swimming in the ocean. Swimming to nowhere.

I watched the video documentary with Dr Sanjay Gupta for CNN and I saw that Diana was devastated by her 1978 failure (cnnpresents.blogs.com). She said, "I never had summoned so much raw power. I never wanted anything so badly. And I never tried so hard." Her dream died. It broke her heart.

2010, 2nd attempt, 32 years after the 1st. So why did she pick up where she left off after all those heartbreak 32 years? Serendipity. One day she happened to glance at herself at the car's mirror, huh? She thought she just could do it again, could feel powerful again. "I said to myself, I've got it. I have it in my spirit. I have it in my body. This summer I'm swimming from Cuba to Florida." She failed again anyway; the weather did not cooperate. Diana was already 61 years old. Why did she think she could do it when she was that old when she didn't make it when she was that young?

2011, 3rd attempt. She injured her shoulder and suffered an asthma attack (Lizette Alvarez, 02 September 2013, nytimes.com). The doctors treated her and then she began to vomit. Pain in the shoulder. She was also stung twice by box jellyfish; she said the stings gave her the feeling her body was submerged in hot, burning oil. They pulled her out of the water. End of quest. Again. Failed Attempt #3. This was the year she said in a YouTube video her father told her she was "destined to swim," her family name being derived the Greek word naias for water nymph or female swimmer (Michael Haskins, 03 September 2013, yahoo.com). Diana was 62 years old.

2012, 4th attempt. Another failure. Diana was 63 years old.

2013. 5th attempt. No protective shark cage. Diana is 64 years old.

"I admit there's an ego rush," Nyad said before this 5th and final attempt began (ANN, 02 September 2013, foxnews.com). "If I, three days from now, four days from now, am still somehow bringing the arms up and I see the shore ... I am going to have a feeling that no one yet on this planet has ever had."

On 02 September, Monday, Diana Nyad stepped ashore at 1320 hours to the arms of welcomers at Smathers Beach of Key West in Florida, after swimming for 52 hours, 54 minutes 18.6 seconds. Her face was burnt and puffy from so many hours of sun, seawater and swimming. Her team tweeted:

Our #FearlessNyad has at long last achieved her #XtremeDream and reached #TheOtherShore. An historic moment that proves #DreamsDoComeTrue.

Diana Nyad has also made history by having made the most number of attempts at swimming from Cuba to Florida nonstop: 5.

Diana Reese wrote (02 September 2013, washingtonpost.com):

Age and gender don't matter. Nyad proved that today. By swimming some 110 miles from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage, the 64-year-old has done something no other man, or woman, has managed to do.

Number of tries matter; you should never give up until the last try. Diana Nyad said on Smathers Beach when she walked to her triumph:

I have three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you never are too old to chase your dreams. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it takes a team.

That's 3 lessons for everyone, but I think most especially for those of us who are already Senior Citizens.

Me? My failures at my first engagement with love and my first enrolment in college gave me quite a number of years of anxiety, but I never gave up on me. Yes, I'm "The Boy Who Broke His Own Heart" (The Creattitudes Encyclopedia, 11 May 2011, blogspot.com). And yes, I'm "Frank Hilario, The Editor Who Would Be Fired" (03 June 2013, Frank A Hilario, blogspot.com).

My dream was to be a first-rate Editor of a nationally circulated magazine, but it never happened. Starting in the late 1980s, in the next 20 years I did not have a regular job, that is to say, I worked freelance. Then in early 2006, I learned to blog, and I knew I had found a new love. In early 2007, William Dar found me and that was the beginning of my writing consultancy with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), of which he is the Director General. ICRISAT has since published my books yearly. Early this year, it published my 7th: ICRISAT & PARTNERS: Political Will Applied With Science (146 pages, all photographs in full color). You can't separate Science and State. Each book is a collection of my essays that appear in the dedicated blog iCRiSAT Watch (blogspot.com).

"It looks like a solitary sport," Diana Nyad says, "but it takes a team." She had 5 support boats that also provided her with food, water and medicine. Those boats had a crew of 35 people, including doctors and a navigator. She stopped about every 40 minutes to take food, such as scrambled eggs and pasta.

She had to train long hours, long days, to become physically fit to pursue her dream. What about mentally fit? That's where she needed her friends for support. She needed her team even before they set out from Cuba to Florida year after year after year.

I challenge the Senior Citizens everywhere in the world to dream like Diana Nyad - and then to work to make that dream come true. They will then feel more alive and, hopefully, inspire others. If they don't dream, they're wasting their remaining years. If they don't do something to make that dream come true, they're wasting that dream. As in Diana's case, others can swim like her but, she herself asked, "Who's got the mind?" It's the mind. It's in the mind. You can do it!

In my case, if you didn't notice, my dream didn't come true. What I did was, I changed that dream, and it has made all the difference to me, starting when I was already 66 years old. if you can't solve a problem, change the problem. If you can't make a dream come true, change the dream!

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