I feel strong, powerful and endurance wise, I’m fit.”

That sounds like an affirmation Women’s Voices might write, but, in reality, it is the statement of a woman who right now has the whole world marveling.

The woman is Diana Nyad and she has voiced her mission as an intention. The New York Times’ Lizette Alvarez summarized it beautifully:

Any day now, Diana Nyad will set out to do something no athlete has ever done: swim all day and all night, then all day and all night, then all day again.”

Diana Nyad, age 61, is planning to swim the 103 miles between Cuba and Key West, Fla. Her plan is to be in the water the entire time — without a shark cage.

She attempted this feat once before, swimming for 41 hours 49 minutes in a shark cage, buffeted by ridiculous currents and equally challenging weather, before she had to abandon her quest. A year later, she swam 102 miles from Bimini to Jupiter, Fla., without a shark cage. This was and remains the world’s longest ocean swim. These wondrous achievements both came when she was under 30 years old.

Now, at three score plus one, she will try again. She gave up swimming in 1979, burned out and still angry from the childhood sexual abuse that fueled her aggression and ambition in her early years. She couldn’t let go of the Cuba to America dream though and now, having spent a year and a half training, alternating swimming with a gym routine, she is ready.

Diana Nyad has said she sings while she swims. She sings the songs of her generation by the singers we all know — Janis Joplin, Neil Young, The Beatles. The New York Times pointed out that she likes songs that match the cadence of her strokes. Apparently “Ticket to Ride” is ideal.

These are the tunes that inspired us in our youth. This is the woman who inspires us now. She’s said that one of her goals is to inspire people her age. She has passed through trauma and the draining reaction to it to find herself in awe of the world around her. She recognizes that her determination might be a beacon to others and has said she hopes people her age will realize there is a lot of life left.

Think of it. A woman over 35, over 50 and yes, over 60 means to do something that she couldn’t do when she was 28. Something that requires the strength that we associate mostly with men, mostly under the age of 40.

It has been said that, in attempting this dream, she is likely to hallucinate and suffer innumerable jelly fish stings. It’s clear she’s equal to all that and more. This is a woman who is going to swim with a ticket to ride to the pinnacle of athletic accomplishment. Her team of 22 people will have her back. All of us will have her in our hearts.

Bon Voyage and Bon Chance, Diana Nyad. See you in Key West.

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