61-year-old swimmer (almost) swims to Florida

August 10th, 2011  |  Published in Stumpblog  |  7 Comments

She didn’t make it, but damn it was a great attempt! 61-year-old swimmer Diana Nyad (an apropos last name) ended her marathon swim 29 hours into her trip from Cuba to Florida.

She had originally planned to swim the 166 km in about 60 hours. Either way, that’s badass — she also opted to swim without a shark cage. Had the latest attempt been successful, Ms. Nyad would have broken her own 1979 record of 165 kilometres for a cageless, open-sea swim from the Bahamas to Florida.

Go old broads!!

Video |  Full story |  Photos

In other swim news, though, a 40-year old woman died during a triathlon in NYC.

This bears repeating: prolonged endurance exercise will NOT make you healthier. It’s about pushing the limits of human capacity… which (while cool) is NOT the same thing.

If you get off on extreme athletic performance, great. Swim to Florida or Antarctica, or run the Sahara, and I will high-five you all the way.

However, if you are triathloning or running or cycling or death-march-spinning or otherwise beating yourself into the ground because you think it’ll make you leaner and healthier, you’re swimming up the wrong tree.


  1. Danielle Vallee says:

    August 10th, 2011at 5:38 am(#)

    Hi Krista!

    I couldn’t agree more. This is a great point to make and one that is misunderstood as it’s based on a oft repeated, profoundly believed myth : That running and “cardio” are the be-all and end-all of fitness and THE road to fat loss and glowing health.

    I don’t understand what people have against picking up a heavy weight! But it is SO FUN to be strong in the society of weaklings! (Don’t mean to sound arrogant; the truth is that for almost everyone weakness is a choice.)

    Danielle (LEater ;-)

  2. clm says:

    August 11th, 2011at 12:54 pm(#)

    [This bears repeating: prolonged endurance exercise will NOT make you healthier. It’s about pushing the limits of human capacity… which (while cool) is NOT the same thing.]

    This is a really out there statement. The woman who died was a long time swimmer, ex-lifeguard and very fit with likely undiagnosed heart issues. And the race she was doing was not what would be called “prolonged endurance exercise”. She could have died lifting in the gym, or hiking with her kids and husband.

  3. Mistress Krista says:

    August 11th, 2011at 1:30 pm(#)

    It’s not “out there” at all. Extreme feats of athleticism and human capacity of any type are not health-promoting. Such feats (and the training involved) are cool, interesting, and often inspiring. They are not, however, “health”. Any elite athlete will tell you that there are times at their athletic “peak” when they are more dead than alive — riddled with injuries, exhausted, and burned out.

    When I was performing at my best athletically and competing, my health indicators were in the crapper. Rachel Cosgrove’s story of getting fatter while training for a triathlon is similar, as is former endurance athlete Mark Sisson’s.

    Pursuing physical limits is a very exciting and awesome project. Yet it is not “health”. And it may not bring us what we seek, if what we seek is lifetime leanness and wellness. Of course, we can move in and out of these various phases in our lives. At times we can prioritize one over another.

    We just have to apply the right tool for the job at hand.

    One must not confuse outcomes with methods.

    It all depends on what you seek.

  4. Rhenium says:

    August 11th, 2011at 2:43 pm(#)

    I guess I should point out the JAMA study that shows that triathlons are twice as deadly as marathons!

    Like a tabloid headline however that statement is true but does not give the whole picture. The death rate is only 1.5 per 100,000 participants (95% CI, 0.9-2.5). Of the 14 people who died in the study, all but one was during the swim. The short answer seems to be if you have a heart attack on the bike or run you don’t drown.


    Disclosure, I am a triathlete. :)

  5. Mistress Krista says:

    August 12th, 2011at 3:32 am(#)

    @Rhenium: Why not 3 times more deadly? :) (And which sport is the non-offender? LOL! :))

  6. anne says:

    August 13th, 2011at 4:39 am(#)

    I go a little nuts in my head every time someone mentions Ms. Nyad’s last name: Nyad! What are the odds?! Thank you for acknowledging this amazingness.

  7. Friday 8/19/11 | Derby City CrossFit - Louisville, KY says:

    August 18th, 2011at 6:22 pm(#)

    […] / Protein Shake Deadlifting for Strongman How to Get More From the CrossFit Community Ice or Heat 61-Year-Old Swimmer (Almost) Swims to Florida Burning Runner: An Inside Look Into CrossFit Culture Reebok Displays Savvy in Sponsoring Sporting […]

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