Diana Nyad

First Person to Successfully Swim from Cuba to Florida Without the Protection of a Shark Cage; Sports Journalist & Broadcaster

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Diana Nyad was born August 22, 1949 and is an American author, journalist, and long-distance swimmer noted for her world-record endurance championships. She was once ranked 30th among U.S. women squash players. On September 2, 2013, on her fifth attempt, Diana Nyad swam 110 miles from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida.

Nyad has authored three books, Other Shores (Random House: September 1978) about her life and distance swimming, Basic Training for Women (Harmony Books: 1981), and in 1999 she wrote a biography of an NFL wide-receiver Boss of Me: The Keyshawn Johnson Story. She has also written for The New York Times, Newsweek magazine, and other publications. Diana and her best friend Bonnie Stoll (former #3 in the world on the Pro Racquetball Tour) have formed a company called BravaBody which is aimed at providing online exercise advice to women over 40, with the two world-class athletes giving direct inspiration and custom-made work-outs. As of 2006, she also delivered motivational talks to groups through the Gold Star speakers agency, for a fee of between $10,000 to $15,000. As of 2006, she was a (long-time) weekly contributor to National Public Radio’s afternoon news show All Things Considered (appearing on Thursdays), as well as the “business of sport” commentator for American Public Media’s public radio program Marketplace business news. She was also a regular contributor to the CBS News television show Sunday Morning.

In her 1978 autobiography Nyad described marathon swimming as a battle for survival against a brutal foe — the sea — and the only victory possible is to “touch the other shore.”

An analysis of Nyad’s ability to dissociate during her marathon swims is covered by James W. Pipkin.

Nyad, at age 64, began her fifth and last bid to swim from Cuba to the United States on the morning of August 31, 2013. She attempted this without the use of a shark cage, flippers or wet suit. Around 12 noon EDT on September 2 Nyad was about 2 miles from Key West. This is farther than she has gone in any previous attempt, and she has broken the previous record of Penny Palfrey’s 2012 distance in her attempt to complete the Cuba to Florida swim. At approximately 1:55 pm EDT Nyad made landfall in Key West, completing her journey on her fifth and final attempt.

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