You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.


A triumph of mind over everything

Diana Nyad rode in a parade in Key West after her swim.

Rob O'Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau/via Reuters

Diana Nyad rode in a parade in Key West after her swim.

Continue reading below

It’s been more than 35 years since endurance swimmer Diana Nyad first set her mind to crossing the open water between Cuba and Florida. That she finally made it from Havana to Key West on Monday makes her example far more inspiring than if she’d reached the Florida coast in 1978. For one thing, she deliberately made her own task harder. On her unsuccessful first attempt, she used a shark cage pulled by a boat, a setup that creates a favorable draft for the swimmer. On her successful fifth attempt this weekend — at age 64 — she became the first person to make the crossing without a shark cage.

Nyad, who’d put the idea of swimming from Cuba to Florida aside for decades before reviving it in her 60s, made a bet that should prove deeply meaningful to a graying American population: that tougher mental discipline and smarter preparation can outweigh any physical constraints that age imposes. Nyad was right, but she still emerged from the water looking like — well, someone who’d been swimming for 53 hours. Contrary to the cliche about gifted athletes, Nyad didn’t make her feat look easy, because it wasn’t. That was the whole point.

Loading comments...
Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
Please enter a valid email will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of