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Sunday superlative

Posted Jul 24 2011 8:22pm
My hat goes off to Diana Nyad .

While we may all go to the beach and play in the surf this weekend, Nyad is preparing for a 100+ mile swim from Cuba to Florida.

Nyad still holds a world record for the longest swim in history - a record that has stood, unsurpassed, since 1979, when she swam just over 102 miles from Bimini (in the Bahamas) to the coast of Florida.

And if the record is broken this summer it will be Nyad who will break it. At age 61. By swimming from Cuba to Florida. Without a shark cage to protect her from marine predators.

Yes, yes... I know Nyad is not a runner.

But she is one hell of an athlete. She was the Michael Phelps of the 1960s and 70s. Heck, given her hours in the water, she might have been better than him - maybe not faster, but has Phelps ever swum around the island of Manhattan?

After a ten year career, at the end of the 70s, Nyad hit the wall that is athletic burnout. Repeated 30-hour swims and 100-mile swims could do that to a person. So after 31 years without swimming a single stroke, Nyad rekindled her dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida. She started training again. She planned this swim last summer, only to have it called off for bad weather and lack of the proper travel paperwork. But, rather than let her dream fade away, she trained all over again this year .

That kind of single-minded dedication is inspiring, to say the least, for any athlete.

And to top it off, she's a smartie: Phi Beta Kappa , fluent in four languages , and her resume includes commentary and/or writing for National Public Radio, the New York Times, Fox Sports News, ABC's Wide World of Sports... (and I could go on, but you get the idea).

So I'll keep my fingers crossed that the weather holds out, the paperwork lines up, the currents are helpful, and the sharks have brunch elsewhere...

Photo courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand
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