By now many of you have probably heard about Diana Nyad and her successful quest to swim from Cuba to Florida at the age of 64. Whether 64 or 24, this is one momentous accomplishment. Having been a committed and dedicated competitive swimmer through high school and college, I can really appreciate the how difficult this quest is.
Back in the day, I used to swim somewhere between four and five hours daily. I would usually swim around 12,000-14,000 yards or just under 8 miles a day, six days a week. All I remember about that period was I was exhausted – emotionally and physically – at the end of every practice. Unlike many other sports, swimming does not offer a whole lot of down time between sets or swims to catch your breath, talk, or relax. Every single workout was a series of endless laps – back and forth, back and forth – in complete isolation. While there were other swimmers in the pool, working out with me, I was either racing against them or simply doing my thing in the water alongside them. The limit of my imagination and my experience is swimming eight miles over a five hour stretch. Even that seems amazing at my age considering I was swimming at that level nearly forty years ago.
About ten years ago, I decided to swim a 3.1 (5K) open water swim in the Detroit River. I loved it. It was a great mental and physical challenge. It took me just under 2 hours to complete the task. With that swim, reality took over and I had to admit that it is quite possible I am not as young as I used to be. During that swim I was reminded about the complete and total physical and emotional isolation that comes with swimming.
At 64, Diana Nyad found a way to complete her quest to swim 110 miles from Cuba to Florida. 110 miles, 53 hours – at 64! This was her fifth attempt at this crossing. FIVE attempts! Five times she went on a quest to swim 100 plus miles in complete physical and mental isolation. With each setback she increased her resolve and her commitment to accomplish this task. When she finally and successfully realized her objective she reminded all of us to examine our hearts and look at our dreams and quests and exorted us to “Find a way!”
Whatever your mission is, I am certain it is not as clearly mapped out as a 110 mile swim. What is lost in all the excitement of her 53 hour accomplishment is that it actually took her much longer to achieve her goal. It actually took her 35 years to accomplish her mission. From here first unsuccessful attempt in 1978 until her victory in 2013 – a span of 35 years – she never gave up, even when age, adversity, or doubt could have easily stopped her.
True, sustainable, and incredible successes often take time, commitment, passion, and perseverance. It takes the will to believe when no one else does. And, it takes the determination to “find a way” even if the answer, the solution, or the next step is not readily visible. Whatever you are dreaming about today, go after it, and “find a way”!!