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Why Diana Nyad refused to let her 'Xtreme Dream' die (+video)

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On Saturday morning, 64-year-old Diana Nyad slipped off her white terry cloth robe, put on her swim cap and goggles, and jumped into the Hemingway Marina in Havana, Cuba. After two days and two nights of swimming, Ms. Nyad touched the shores of Key West, Fla. She had become the first person to swim across the Straits of Florida without the protection of a shark cage. 

A throng of cheering supporters and eager reporters greeted the sunburnt swimmer, who returned the salutations with a fist pump. 

"I got three messages," said Nyad just after she reached the shore. “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’s a team.” 

The often temperamental weather along the route, together with the myriad of jellyfish and sharks in the waters make the swim a formidable task.

Nyad remembers dreaming about swimming across the Florida Straits during her first visit to Cuba before the Communist takeover when she was 8 years old. By 1978, Nyad had become an elite marathon swimmer, and made her first attempt to cross. The trip ended due to difficult water conditions. During the 1970s, the swimmer won multiple other swimming marathons, even becoming the first woman to swim around the island of Manhattan at age 26.

Throughout the past three decades, Nyad has worn a variety of different hats, working as a sports journalist for publications such as The New York Times and Newsweek, and authoring several books about sports training, all while continuing to swim.


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