Monday, September 2, 2013

Diana Nyad - Cuba to Key West

Today, Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West, without assistance or the use of a shark cage.  An amazing feat and Mark and I were very excited to be there when she staggered out of the surf here in Key West.  

Diana left Hemingway Marina in Havana, Cuba on Saturday and reached Smathers Beach in Key West today at around 2pm.  She spent 52 hours, 54 minutes and 18.6 seconds in the water and covered 110 actual miles.  Can you image swimming that far? Incredible.  This was her fifth attempt since 1978. Jelly fish stings, rough seas and shoulder pain thwarted her until today.  
Mark and I had been watching her progress since she jumped in the water in Havana. For some reason, we had a really good feeling about this attempt.  

This morning, when we got up at 5am, she was 13 miles from shore.  We got in a quick run and a nap, and then biked down to Smather's Beach to cheer on her arrival.  

The early crowd was small which was good for us, we were able to get a great position right behind the barriers and the EMT's who were waiting for her. We would have a fantastic view as she came to shore.  As more people arrived, we became packed in against the wooden barriers. I'm very claustrophobic, so I made sure not to look behind me. 

Diana is somewhere in the middle of the boats that are headed to shore. She's probably a mile out at this point. She had ten boats and kayaks around her, watching out for jelly fish and keeping boaters from running her over. At one point, in the middle of the night, a cruise ship diverted it's course to steer clear! Mark and I were concerned, at one point, by 5 or 6 jet skis that blew threw an area near where she was swimming.

Unfortunately for us, after pausing just off shore, Diana opted to swim towards a different section of the beach than the area set up for her.  Once people realized she wasn't going to come to the reception site, the crowd just dissolved into chaos as everyone ran down to be near the landing.

Mark and I were quickly separated and neither of us ended up with a clear view of her arrival. I got some shaky video holding my phone over my head, along with a couple hundred other people, and then gave up and headed towards the sidewalk. Somehow, I ended up being in the path the EMT's took, taking Diana to the ambulance, so I got a shot of her face as they wheeled her by. 

It was an amazing experience to watch this lady complete such a phenomenal athletic feat.  We were really pleased to see the size and enthusiasm of the crowd and felt quite privileged to be a part of it.

Here's a link to the best video of her coming ashore. 

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