61-year-old woman attempting shark-ridden 60-hour swim

Sharks. Hallucinations. Jellyfish. A swollen tongue. Sensory deprivation.

Those are just a few of the challenges that await 61-year-old Diana Nyad when she swims non-stop for about 60 hours to cross the 103 miles from Cuba to Key West. If she makes it, Nyad, who already holds the record for the longest ocean swim, will be the person to make this trek without a shark cage.

Nyad explains why she’s trying this swim, one she attempted decades ago, again now:

Ms. Nyad pinned the reason on her gallop toward 60; it unsettled her greatly. She needed a fresh, powerful target to stir up her energy and ambition. And although she had given up swimming abruptly in 1979, a casualty of burnout, her mind seized on her unsuccessful swim to Key West.

“This is what I need to remedy my malaise,” Ms. Nyad said. “I need commitment to take over. That level of commitment has such a high. There is no thinking about regrets or what will I do with the rest of my life. I’m immersed in the everyday, full tilt. It’s so energizing.”

Serious props. Maybe if I start now, I’ll be as bad-ass by the time I’m 61.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/cshap18/ Conor

    This is truly incredible. I’m a triathlete who’s aspiring to do Ironman, but 103 Miles!!!! Wow. I’m in awe.

  • http://feministing.com/members/northwestjes/ jes

    From what I’ve read about this, the significant part about not swimming with a shark cage is that it will make it harder and take longer to swim … not the fear of shark attacks.

    From the NYTimes article:

    If Ms. Nyad makes it from Cuba to Key West, she will be the first person to have done so without a shark cage. In 1997, an Australian woman completed the swim inside a shark cage. But with a boat pulling the cage, the swim is easier and faster; the woman completed it in less than 24 hours.

    Nyad predicts it will take her 60 hours without the cage. And if you read on, it says she will still be using “shark shields.”

    This makes it all the more remarkable, I think!!