"The toughest athlete in the world . . .

. . . is a 64 year-old woman.” – D. L. Stewart, Dayton Daily News

Diana Nyad is nuts. She is already eligible for early social security and next year she will be old enough for Medicare. Yet, for the past 35 years she has had a goal in mind – to swim 110 miles from Cuba to Key West. She tried four times and failed, for one reason or another. The fifth time, on Labor Day of this year, she labored mightily and achieved that goal.

Why on earth would one do that? The strait between Cuba and the United States is infested with sharks, jellyfish, whose sting is excruciatingly painful, It is a known storm path, and this is the mid-point of hurricane season. At the best of times, the water there is far from gentle. Why? I suppose Sir Edmund Hilary’s answer as to why he climbed Mount Everest is the only possible one. Because it is there.

Co-incidentally, I recently discovered the work of Angela Lee Duckworth, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who is studying the phenomenon of “grit” or persistence. Duckworth has developed a self-test to measure the index of one’s grit. She uses it as a predictor of success in life. No doubt Nyad would have few peers in that index. She gives a who new meaning to “True Grit.”

Diana Nyad is nuts. We need more like her.


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