She was a former distance swimming champion in the 1970s. She retired from competitive swimming and did not swim much (or at all, according to her website) until last year. That's when she began training for the Cuba-to-Florida swim.
Diana and her team decided that last night presented good weather conditions to start the voyage. The 103-mile swim is expected to take at least 60 hours, more if she is pushed off-course by ocean currents. She could finish sometime on Wednesday.
For the record to be "official", she cannot wear a wetsuit. Nor can she touch the support boats. She will swim for 45 minutes at a time. Then stop to take in some water and calories. Support crew are allowed to drop feeding tubes from the boat. They can also apply sunscreen and Vaseline. But they can't hold her up in the water.
CNN is tracking her progress in near real-time:
Support staff are posting updates on her Facebook page:
She attempted the swim once before, when she was in her late 20s. She previously swam from the Bahamas to Florida, 102.5 miles total. Another swimmer finished the Cuba-Florida swim, but with the assistance of a shark cage. Nyad's team has a special low-energy electric "fence" that will help to deter sharks. One species of shark is not deterred by the fence so support crew will help to nudge them off gently. One of the boats has an underwater sighting mechanism that will make it easier for Diana to follow that lead boat. But it won't help her to swim. She can only rely on her own muscles for that.
I did three laps around National Harbor yesterday 'without' support boats.
This is like the ultra swims of the great Lynn Cox, described in her awesome memoir, Swimming to Antartica. Great stuff.
Heard she had to quit 1/2 way through due to current. So sad. I was routing for her. Wonder why she didn't start a month earlier before Hurricane season started to kick in?
She made a good run at it. Swimming for 29 hours is still an incredible feat.
Even if she didn't accomplish the primary goal of reaching Florida, she still managed to inspire many people around the world. She has spoken about showing "middle-aged" people and people in their "prime" that they can still lead active lives. Most people aren't going to be doing 29 or 60-hr swims, but they can certainly walk or run more. If she encourages thousands of people to get off the couch, then she will have been successful.