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Commentary: Diana Nyad's historic Cuba-to-Florida swim
Published on September 6, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Anthony L Hall

You’d think Nyad stood a realistic chance of making it this time. In fact, even though she made it farther than ever before, she still had more than 33 of her [110]-mile swim to go.

Nevertheless, given that Nyad thought she could do this at 63, it would not surprise me if she deludes herself into thinking she can do it at 73. But if she tries again, anyone who enables her in any way should be arrested and charged with elder abuse
. (“Diana Nyad Fails Cuba-to-Florida Swim … Again,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 22, 2012)

Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian who descends from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an international lawyer and political consultant - headquartered in Washington DC - who also publishes a current events weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at
Gulp. That’s me eating humble pie. Because Diana Nyad proved me wrong – not only by completing this improbable feat, but also by exposing the (unwitting) ageism implied in my commentary on her fourth attempt at the Cuba-to-Florida swim.

This, of course, is the Holy Grail of distance swimming, which Nyad first attempted 35 years ago.

Diana Nyad has become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the help of a shark cage. The 64-year-old Nyad stepped ashore in Key West on Monday just before 2 pm EDT, about 53 hours after she began her swim in Havana on Saturday…

It was Nyad’s fifth try to complete the approximately 110-mile swim
. (Associated Press, August 2, 2013)

In fact, despite understandable difficulty finding her sea legs, Nyad was greeted on the shores of Key West like Columbus being greeted on the shores of San Salvador. Except that, instead of words of conquest and dominion, Nyad – with swollen tongue and lips that made talking almost impossible – uttered words of perseverance and inspiration:

I have three messages: one is, we should never, ever give up; two is, you’re never too old to chase your dream; three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team. (Miami Herald, September 2, 2013)

To which I, a now humbled and repentant admirer, say: Amen!

That said, there’s this:

I am convinced that, if reelected, Obama will seal his legacy by lifting the embargo and normalizing relations with Cuba. (“Fifth Summit of the Americas: Managing Expectations,” The iPINIONS Journal, April 17, 2009)

Therefore, it would be remiss of me not to hail Nyad’s self-evident hope that her historic swim will do for bilateral relations between the United States and Cuba what an historic ping-pong game did for bilateral relations between the United States and China.

For here is what her longtime friend Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich, the Hemingway Marina commodore who helped organize the Cuba side of Nyad’s multiple attempts, said about Nyad’s fourth, unspoken message:

More than the athletic feat, she wants to send a message of peace, love, friendship and happiness … between the people of the United States and Cuba. (FOX News, September 1, 2013)

To which I, as one who has been trying for years to send this message in his own way, say: hope springs eternal.

Congratulations, Diana!

Related commentaries:
Nyad fails
Fifth summit
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