what we can learn from Diana Nyad's attempted 103 mile swim

what we can learn from Diana Nyad's attempted 103 mile swim

Last week Diana Nyad made her 4th attempt to swim the 103 miles from Cuba to Florida.

Unfortunately she didn't make it; she was pulled from the water after 42 hours - not because of exhaustion, hypothermia, dehydration, or circling sharks (all of which she was prepared to work through), but because she was stung repeatedly by box jellyfish on her lips and hands.

But as I watch this video of her talking pre-attempt about the process, I'm amazed at how far she's been able to go by using some basic tenants:

From the video, we can gather:
  • Break the 60-hour swim down into bite-sized pieces. "Just do 90 minutes, which isn't hard, then take a break and get yourself ready for another small part." Sure, I couldn't do a 90-minute swim - even on a good day - and you probably couldn't either. But the concept is the same as what we've talked about here before - break your big goals, and your big activities, down into bite-sized pieces.
  • Couch to Fit is a long process. Diana started out by swimming a few laps at a time. But she stuck with it, increasing her distance gradually and consistently, until eventually she was setting world records.
  • You can improve at any age. Diana turned 63 last year. Health and fitness aren't about beating a 20-year old in a sprint; anyone at any age can improve their health, a little bit each day.
  • Dream Big. Diana has accomplished some great swims because she dreams of completing this 103 mile beast. In order to achieve her dream, she needs to make her body a little better, a little more capable, every day. She may never be able to finish her dream swim, but her dream swim has already led her on to greatness. You can do the same thing - dream big, then spend each day moving a little bit closer to that dream.

Slow and steady, a little bit at a time, the process of continuous improvement - getting better each day. It always amazes me, and yet it never amazes me, when I see someone use these basic life principles and turn them into greatness.

Congratulations, Diana. Hopefully you can figure a way across those jellies. Keep dreaming big!

More on the story from ESPN-W here.

-Chris Butterworth