Diana Nyad: A lesson in perseverance

Diana Nyad completed a challenging swim from Cuba to Florida Monday in a demonstration of perseverance, bravery, and dedication fit to inspire adults and children for years to come.

J. Pat Carter/AP
Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida Monday without the aid of a shark cage. Here, Ms. Nyad hugs trainer Bonnie Stoll as she walks ashore, Sept. 2, 2013.

This Labor Day, Americans watched in amazement as author and distance swimmer Diana Nyad completed a historic 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida.

After swimming non-stop for more than 50 hours, Ms. Nyad touched land on the shores of Key West, Fla. and raised her fist in triumphant victory. The visibly fatigued, and considerably swollen swimmer offered these words of wisdom to the world following her harrowing swim. 

“I have three messages. One is, we should never ever give up. Two is, you never are too old to chase your dreams. And three is, it looks like a solitary sport but it's a team."

Those words carry some mighty important lessons for the rest of us that can barely imagine staying up for two days straight let alone spending them swimming through shark- and jellyfish-infested ocean.

Her message to never give up is not any new nugget of wisdom. However, she has lent the old adage some fresh significance, considering that her victorious swim came only after four failed attempts. 

Nyad’s insistence that age should not get in the way of fulfilling dreams has not only inspired countless adults, but has also served show the country’s young people that they hold no monopoly on vitality.

As kids get into the swing of the school year, the excitement of a new wardrobe and the joys of reuniting with friends will undoubtedly give way to frustrations, anxieties, and disappointments from time to time. 

So next time your son throws down his pencil in frustration while working on his math homework, or your daughter declares that she’ll never live down some embarrassment, remind them of Diana Nyad and her perseverance, her willingness to face her fears, and her sheer might. When they feel they are drowning in schoolwork and social drama, let them know that even though life often feels like a solitary sport, you will always be on their team.

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