Somewhat lost amid last week's Syrian shuffle was the news that long distance swimmer Diana Nyad completed her swim from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida, a 110-mile swim through shark and jellyfish infested waters, without the use of a protective shark cage, a feat unmatched by anyone previous, let alone someone who recently celebrated their 64th birthday.
The 53 hour-long ordeal took its toll, both physically and mentally on Nyad. Besides contending with jellyfish stings, seawater intake, and nausea, the monotony of the trip led to hallucinations. Along the way, as the hours passed, the voice of her favorite artist, Neil Young, played in her head and in a semi-dream state, imagined that she was swimming toward the Taj Mahal.
The swim was her fifth and, as she made clear before setting out, final attempt. When she emerged, understandably dazed and exhausted, to greet her well-wishers, she had three inspirational messages for the crowd:
1. We should never give up.
2. You're never too old to chase your dreams
3. It looks like a solitary sport, but it takes a team.
As a postscript, it should come as no surprise, in those post-Lance Armstrong era, that skeptics and naysayers are now surfacing to pee in Nyad's proverbial pool. Some have noted that, according to progress logs, her swimming speed nearly doubled along one stretch. While her team attributes the boost to favorable currents, the skeptics believe she must have been pulled along for a while by a support boat. Other open water swimmers criticized her use of a special jellyfish repellent swimsuit and mask, saying that it violates strict guidelines known as the English Channel rules.
Whatever details emerge in the coming days, there's little argument that Nyad's achievement is remarkable regardless of the details and as in every controversy, believers will continue to believe and skeptics will continue to have their doubts.