Saturday, August 7, 2010

Diana Nyad, never too old to swim?

Diana Nyad, pics from AARP
In spite of Helen Mirren's on-going popularity, there's a general perception lingering today women in their 60s are just sitting around waiting to pass on. But American swimmer Diana Nyad, 60, is spending this summer shaking a fin at all the nay-sayers.

Nyad was a renowned long-distance swimmer in the '70s holding records like swimming around Manhattan Island in 7 hours 57 mins and swimming the 102.5 miles between the Bahamas and Florida. But this summer, after a 31-year break, she's back in the water for two swims. 

In July she swam for 24 hours through Key West Florida. Sounds inspiring but it's only a warm-up for an August 103 mile swim to Cuba - for which she needed Hilary Clinton to intervene with the American government for permission as the swim was seen as positively promoting Cuba. (Can we say Groundhog Day when it comes to American foreign policy?)

Posting on her blog Nyad has this to say:

"I was experiencing what millions my age are feeling these days. Disenfranchised, no longer valued, terribly worried that my best days were behind me. Yet the business of life is to live large and you can dream at any age. To me the phrase “60 is the new 40” is not a joke. We baby boomers can put truth into those words. We are far from irrelevant at 60. 

"We’re now emotionally mature, brimming with wisdom and calm, still physically strong. This should be the prime of our lives. Training for this swim has filled me with the heartening, empowering conviction that it’s never too late to chase your dream."

As of today she hasn't set a definite date, but as she turns 61 on August 22nd, that could be it. Sadly of course the oil spill is affecting her plans as it's disrupting many other lives. You can read how she goes at her blog: Diana Nyad Extreme Dream 

So what do you think - is there a limit to how long we can keep competing or is Nyad right to keep pushing?

5 comments:

Olive said...

I think you're as young as you feel and good on Nyad for chasing her dream. It's unfortunate that some people think women of a certain age are "past it."

Niamh said...

She's definitely going for it. Male or female it's great to see people staying healthy when they can - not much point living to be a 100 if all you do is lie in a bed.

Niamh said...

As of today, Nyad is still waiting on the Cuban visa so she complete the swim.

Lisa Creech Bledsoe said...

I *love* posts about women in their middle age, kicking ass and taking names. Great work finding and posting about them, Niamh.

niamh said...

@Lisa - well Nyad is a bit more than middle-aged unless you know something I don't about longevity! I was sad this year when she had to give up, but beyond impressed that she even tried

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