Two and a half days. That's how long it took Diana Nyad to swim from Cuba to Florida three years ago. And her life journeys are far from over yet.
Now a motivational speaker and author, Diana was in Chicago today.
At 67-years-old she is still taking on the world, touring the country, appearing at speaking engagements and enjoying the things and events which have come her way since she reached a beach in Key West Florida in September 2013. It was 110 miles from her starting point in Havana, Cuba.
Diana was the first person ever confirmed to swim from Cuba to Florida without the aid of a shark cage. Her 53 hour success, as many know, did not come without its failures. Her success at 64-years old was her fifth attempt at the historic swim. Her first, at 28-years old, was ended by rough swells. Her second attempted was scrapped by asthma. And her third, in 2011, ended when she was stung, nearly fatally, by a box jellyfish.
“I should have died that night,” she says. “I’m lucky I lived through that night. I am still, three years later, suffering a little bit of post traumatic shock from it. Not often, but a couple times a year, I wake up in the middle of the night screaming, ‘I’m on fire! Bonnie help me! I’m on fire!’”
But Diana pushed on.
Her fourth attempted was riddled with storms and more jelly fish.
But she was not ready to give up.
“When I turned 60, I was just enveloped in an existential angst. I’m a spectator. I go out and I watch other people chasing their dreams. I’m not a doer anymore. Are the shoulders going to be there at 60? I don’t know but I went to find out and they were.”
On September 2nd 2013, a dream she spent 35 years chasing, became a reality. It’s one which she shares in her new book “Find a Way.” She signed copies and spoke with fans today in Chicago at the Union League Club.
After all the years of trying, it was the journey not the destination she holds close today.
“What I remember is the not giving up. I remember that more than the making it,” Diana says.
The philosophies Diana adopted to complete her historic journey are also now the generator behind her newest endeavor “Everwalk.” Her goal is to get Americans up and walking.
Over the next five years she and best friend Bonnie Stoll will walk the country at get Americans outdoors and living. And she wants to spread the biggest lesson her 2013 swim gave her.
“What it taught me was that chasing that dream again was to go to bed every night with no regrets,” she says. “And when the last day comes for me … what I want is to close my eyes and say no regrets.”