Amazing Diana Nyad Not Deterred by Jellyfish or Anything Else

jellyfishDiana Nyad embodies everything that's good about sports. Early this morning, the endurance swimmer began an attempt to break her own long-distance swimming record on a 103-mile swim between Cuba and Florida. The waters are filled with sharks and jelly fish, and last month she attempted the same feat, but had to stop after 29 hours when she had an asthma attack. Oh, and she just so happens to be 62.

I am in awe of her.

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She holds the current record for a 102.5 swim she made between the Bahamas and Florida. Not only was it 1979 when she did so, she also used a shark cage then. This time -- no cage. Already this time she's been stung by a jellyfish multiple times -- on both arms, her face and the side of her body -- but instead of giving up, she just plucked those tentacles out (while treading water) and is keeping on keeping on. Those with her are tweeting her journey and reported:

It was scary but Diana is happy that this happened early while she is still at her strongest.

And onward she goes. When she had to quit last month, she said she wouldn't be attempting such a feat again. But like so many other great athletes, she just couldn't step away from the challenge. "Don't listen to athletes when they say it's over," she said.

While sports are rife with plenty of problems from steroid use to cheating scandals, Nyad shows us everything that's right about them and justifies all those early Saturday morning soccer games parents across the country take their children to each week. Not that everyone goes on to such greatness as Nyad, but it's the core lessons taught by competing that they hopefully take away -- setting goals, pushing yourself to do more, be better, be stronger. Plenty of people think her attempt is ridiculous, perhaps an unnecessary risk just for the sake of publicity, but I think it's incredible and inspiring, especially because of her age.

Before taking off, she told reporters, "I think at the age of 62 I honestly believe I'm in the best shape of my whole life, not just of the last two years."

As I look around at my parents and the parents of my friends, I see such distinct differences in those who have kept physically active and those who haven't. My own mother runs and/or golfs almost seven days a week year round and you'd never guess her age, while I often meet other 60-year-olds who look and act 20 years older. Sports aren't just for the young, they can be lifelong habits.

So beyond achieving her own dreams I hope Nyad provides that example and inspiration to others that age does not have to slow you down, nor does injury, or obstacles, or failures. Just keep going.

Are you inspired by Diana Nyad?


Image via bdearth/Flickr

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