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.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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