Champion Diana Nyad spoke to the Daily News about her “Xtreme dream”—to swim from Cuba to Florida—and what was going through her mind as she swam for an amazing 53 hours straight. This record-setting adventure is the subject of a new documentary film called The Other Shore, which debuts on September 26, 2013. She explains that “it is not your typical sports film,” stating that “It’s beautiful. It’s poetic. It’s dramatic. It’s not clichéd. It’s real art. It’s who I am.” The Daily News writes:
In treacherous waters one woman showed the world the possibilities of the human spirit. Diana Nyad, a 64-year-old endurance swimmer, achieved her “Xtreme dream” Monday when she became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. Two days later, the New York-born athlete spoke to the Daily News about her plan to raise money for victims of Hurricane Sandy, why the swim from Cuba meant so much to her and the mental discipline needed for the grueling 53 hour, 110-mile journey. “The physical strength goes without saying,” she said. “How is that body going to come up over and over and over without the mind believing it can and not letting you go into negative space?”
Hour after hour, isolated without audio or visual, Nyad would keep herself company with a mental-playlist of anti-establishment baby boomer music: The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Janice Joplin and Neil Young [. . .]. The mental clarity and classic rock helped her conquer the Florida Straits, after four failed attempts — the first 36 years ago.
“In the 70s, I gathered all the nautical charts of the warm waters of the Earth. Then I remembered the very moment my eyes gazed on Cuba,” she said. The mystique of such a poor country that could produce so much beauty — culturally, architecturally, athletically — struck her immediately. The island’s status as the Caribbean’s forbidden gem for Americans only magnified its luster. After the first failed attempt to swim from Havana to Key West, the elusive dream receded from the forefront of her mind but it never disappeared entirely.
When Nyad turned 60, she started thinking about her limited time on this planet and could not forgive herself for the time she already wasted on negative thoughts. In order to reenergize herself and live in the moment she decided to dedicate herself to a goal that required unwavering passion and dedication — something elevated that would force her to be her best. The swim from Cuba to Florida, an old dream, came rushing back and electrified her imagination. She vowed, in her 60s, to conquer the seemingly insurmountable journey she failed to finish in her 20s. “We all love a good story,” she said. “This story spoke to me so deeply that I knew in my heart that I would have the resolve to get across.”
Now Nyad’s narrative is taking her back to New York, where she first made headlines in 1975 by swimming 28 miles around Manhattan. “I was born there and spent most of my life there. When Hurricane Sandy hit, I felt it like I felt 9-11,” she said.
From October 8 through the 10, Nyad plans to swim for 48 hours in an Olympic size pool that will be erected in Herald Square. She plans to invite Yankees, Broadway stars and other notable New Yorkers to swim in the lane next to hers. The money raised will go to benefit the victims of the super storm. This next swim should be a piece of cake after the shark and jellyfish infested waters of the Florida Strait.
For more on the film, see http://www.theothershoremovie.com/