World-class long distance swimmer Diana Nyad entered the water off of Havana’s Marina Hemingway at 7:45pm ET on Sunday, kicking off what will be a three-day, 103 mile Cuba-to-US swim aimed at bettering relations between the two countries.
“We want these three days to help the two countries get closer,” 61-year-old Nyad explained to the press prior to embarking on her marathon swim.
Diana went on to reveal that she also wants to prove that there is life and fun after 60 and that she has no qualms about her age affecting her swim game.
“I am a better athlete today than I was at 29,” the champion swimmer told CNN, the only network accompanying her on the swim.
While Nyad opted out of using a shark cage for her trek, claiming it would put an “asterisk” next to her name, she will be accompanied by a support team of 45 people, spread across five yachts and four kayaks.
Among them are several trained shark divers who will take turns swimming nearby with electronic devices which are – hopefully – going to repel the marine predators.
In addition battling age and uncontrollable weather and sea conditions, Nyad will also have to overcome fatigue and potential debilitating problems like nausea and chafing from the salty water.
To combat the latter of these issues, Diana will stop and tread water every 45 minutes to rehydrate and every 90 minutes to eat. She also revealed she was bringing along 25 pairs of goggles — light blue for nighttime vision and darker ones for daylight — and any suit changes will happen right there in the water.
In order to set a record, Nyad, who was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2003, cannot touch a boat until she reaches land.
“I never thought I’d come back to this sport,” she told reporters. “It’s a gruelling sport. It’s for the young. I retired when I should have, when I was young, but a couple of years ago in turning 60, I decided that I didn’t want to feel old yet, so I went back to it, and here I am.”
via Washington Post