The Key West Mystique

Key West Island News


Key West Island News connects Key West residents and friends of the island, fosters our One Human Family culture and advances understanding of shared goals for our island community

3 reasons I am not Diana Nyad — and 3 reasons to try

By Linda Grist Cunningham, editor and proprietor

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.


While 64-year-old Diana Nyad swam her final 10 miles to Smathers Beach in Key West today, I cleaned house. And, did the laundry and scooped the cats.

Saturday morning when she left Cuba for the 110-mile swim, I was inspecting slugs in the yard. When she was in the middle of the Florida Straits Sunday, warding off jelly fish, exhaustion and boredom, I was buying groceries. Clearly, I am not Diana Nyad.

Monday afternoon, though, just short of 2 o’clock, I was standing toes in the water in 91 degree sunshine with a crowd of 500, mostly aging baby boomers with their grandbabies in tow, and chanting “no touch, no touch.” Nyad, her royal blue swim cap a getting-larger-with-each-stroke dot just offshore, had to make it all the way in on her own, no feet on a sandbar and, for sure, no shoulders to tug her in. She made it. All the way.

To become the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West without a shark cage.

Three reasons I am not Diana Nyad:

1. I am adept at using coffee and a good book as an excuse to let entire days drift away without doing much constructive.

2. I whine when my knees hurt as I climb out of the pool after a whole hour of deep water jogging.

3. I really hate looking like a truck ran over me and a couple of sharks beat me up when I give an interview to the press.

No, I clearly don’t have what it takes to be Diana Nyad. If you’re honest, neither do you.

But, she thinks we do. As she struggled to form her words around a mouth sore from her jellyfish mask, Nyad offered three messages. None of them original, nor particularly pithy; all of them profound from a woman who just proved aging boomers are a force with which to be reckoned.

1. We should never, ever, give up. The next time I am tempted to toss in the towel, rather than getting into the pool, I’m thinking about that royal blue swim cap coming straight at me across the final yards toward Smathers Beach.

2. You’re never too old to chase your dream. Check. I’ve done that. Even when the dream is sick-making scary. I wouldn’t have been on that beach this afternoon had I not been chasing my dreams every day for 63 years.

3. It takes a team. Yep, you don’t do this life alone.

Next time I whine when the knees hurt, I’m going to say “get back in the water and give it another go.”



1 Comment

  1. Janyce Fadden

    Linda a great pithy article and right on with where I was feeling with her success. Janyce

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