She never gave up

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category icon Editorials, Opinion

“You should never, ever give up.”

These were the first words of Diana Nyad yesterday when, on her fifth try, she became the first woman to swim from Cuba to Florida without the help of a shark cage.

After jumping into the waters of Havana, it took her 53 hours to complete the 110-mile swim. And even more amazing, is the fact that this woman recently celebrated her 64th birthday.

“Never, ever give up,” are words that Nyad has truly lived by for most of her life. She first attempted this monumental swim way back in 1978, and tried again in 2011 and 2012, but a variety of weather and water conditions and circumstances always forced her to cut the trip short.

This time around, in what she announced would be her “final try,” she was equipped with a full body suit, gloves and booties, as well as a mask that she wore at night to protect her from jellyfish stings.

Recounting her experience, she described the pain she endured from swallowing gallons of saltwater, which caused her to vomit throughout most of the effort. Her lips and tongue were visibly swollen, her face red, chapped and sore.

After listening to Nyad talk about successfully fulfilling her lifelong dream, there just aren’t adequate words to describe how amazing this woman truly is. The physical, emotional and mental strength needed to complete this kind of goal is truly incredible.

“I’m in my prime,” she said in one interview. “I may not look it right now, but I’m in my prime.”

That, is for sure. And this woman has certainly earned the admiration that is being showered upon her.

In a time when there are so many examples of movie stars, athletes, celebrities and others in our own communities behaving badly and getting attention for all of the wrong reasons, Nyad shines as a dedicated, strong human being. She is an incredible example of the power of the human spirit, and what can happen when a person “never gives up.”