When Diana Nyad was 30, she did something that no other person had ever done. She set the distance record for nonstop swimming without a wetsuit. That record still stands today, thirty-two years later.
I was thirteen at the time, and remember watching Ms. Nyad on TV. I didn’t linger in front of the set, staring in awe, imagining that one day I would (could) do something so great. Perhaps because I didn’t appreciate the magnitude of what the New York born author/journalist/swimmer had accomplished. In a little over 27 hours, she had crossed 102 miles of open water under her own speed.
At 62 years of age, Ms. Nyad tried again to swim across the Caribbean. This would be her third attempt since setting the record in 1979. She failed, not because of her lack of will to finish but because of the overwhelming will of the wind and waves.
I cannot say I agree with all of Diana Nyad’s life’s choices but she wins in my book for her dedication and determination to purpose. I understand now what it must have taken to stay the course and what it takes to try something again after failing publicly. Like swimming, writing is self-propelled. More often than not, it is harder than it looks.
In her autobiography Other Shores (1978), Ms. Nyad says her marathon swimming is a battle against the sea. In her eyes, the only victory against her watery enemy is to touch the other shore. Even though I swim like a rock, I find inspiration in these words from a professional swimmer. As a writer I battle through words not water. My goal is to stay afloat and not allow the waves of verbiage to overcome me. I must make it to the other side. And despite weariness and uncertainty, I must swim through my enemy and wrangle it into submission.
So what have you been swimming through lately?