I, along with many others, was rooting for Ms. Nyad on her epic swim from Cuba to Key West. I mean she is 64 already (older than me!) and here she is doing this crazy, challenging, over the top thing. A truly rock star performance in the old-girl-still-has-it-in-her genre. What is not to like?
On top of that, Nyad has great handlers so the communications from the front lines was exceptional. There was almost entirely too much information about where she was, what she was eating and other ephemera along the way. You could get completely immersed in the details (swimming joke) if you had a mind to do so.
Because I have a love/hate relationship with slimy sea creatures I was particularly fascinated with the preparations to fend off the box jellyfish. Diana had a full scale anti-jelly entourage. There were divers in the water with zap guns and kayakers on the surface. They were fending off sharks too but the jellies were among the greatest dangers.
Have you seen the pictures of the mask she was going to wear to protect her face? This mask is something right out of a horror movie franchise. And in the end she hardly wore it, preferring instead just to swim like mad and hope for the best.
There is a clear lesson here in my view. True, Nyad is a motivational speaker and there will be lots of opportunity for “you can do anything at any age” speechifying. And with good reason. Heck, she just proved it and therefore earned the right to make it her platform. But that is not what grabbed me.
What really amazed me was her level of preparation. Nyad’s attention to detail in preparing for all the eventualities of the journey appears to have been verging on manic. I know she has staff but this kind of OCD behavior starts at the top. (Trust me, it takes one to know one.) I understand that even the victory party in Key West was orchestrated. Nothing was left to chance. I love this. And after multiple tries, she finally pulled it off.
Now there is a controversy brewing in the incredibly small world of marathon swimmers about whether or not she really achieved a “genuine” marathon swim. First of all, she has been criticized for not following the English Channel swim protocols. Please! There are no box jellyfish between Dover and Calais! Or big tropical sharks either!
But my favorite is the guy who claims she must have cheated because she had a stretch where her speed was faster than than she can actually swim. I have news for you, dude, what she did was PREPARE. For a significant segment of the swim her navigational route hooked her up to ride along with currents rushing her to Key West. This was part of the plan. In my book, this is not cheating, this is brilliant.
So this leaves me with a question or two. What things have I crossed off my list because I think I am too old? What might I be able to do if I only prepared enough? Burning Man? Dancing with the Stars? Do a TED talk?
Thank you Diana Nyad, not just for doing it at 60 plus, but for showing us all how to do it. Be prepared and don’t let the any spineless blobs of goo get in your way.