x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Diana Nyad swims to victory

The 64-year-old is an inspiration for not just her age but also for her determination and persistence

When Diana Nyad emerged onto a Florida beach this week to become the first person to swim the 177km from Cuba to the US without a shark cage, she managed to slur through salt-swollen lips an impressive victory message.

"One is we should never, ever give up," the 64-year-old American said. "Two is you never are too old to chase your dreams. Three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it takes a team."

She had had plenty of time to compose what she wanted to say, not least during the nearly 53 hours it took her to swim from Havana.

And she had plenty of time to ponder her message during her four previous attempts, the first of which was in 1978 and the most recent of which last year ended because of jellyfish stings and bad weather.

But like most great achievements, it was what she did rather than what she said that conveyed the message most poignantly.

Nyad is an inspiration for not just her age but also for her persistence and for the self belief required to ignore the inevitable doubts that must creep into her mind during long hours in the dead of night in the lonely ocean.