Diana Nyad has proven 64 is the new 64. After 35 years of futile efforts to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West without the aid of a protective shark cage, Nyad successfully navigated 110 miles across the Florida Straits over the weekend. A year away from becoming Medicare-eligible and two years removed from being able to collect her full Social Security benefits, Nyad has demonstrated that the vicissitudes of age should not be a barrier to fulfilling a dream.
Although she held swimming endurance records around the world, four previous efforts since 1978 to conquer the Cuba to Key West expanse were unsuccessful. Painful box jellyfish stings, shark threats, deteriorating weather conditions and dangerous shifting currents conspired to abort Nyad's earlier efforts.
The fifth leap off Havana's shoreline proved to be the charm. Calm weather conditions and the addition of a specially constructed face mask to protect Nyad from jellyfish stings allowed her to make the crossing after 52 hours and 54 minutes in the water. She represents the power of positive thinking against the odds.
Nyad delivered three messages in Key West. Never give up. You are never too old to chase a dream. Teamwork is important. In almost any other setting, that advice might sound like tired cliches. Coming from her, it is inspiring.