Thursday, June 29, 2023

Find a Way by Diana Nyad

Find a Way by Diana Nyad is a great work of nonfiction about her life and 2013 swim from Cuba to Florida at the age of sixty-four. The trip covered 110.86 miles and took her 52 hours, 54 minutes, and 18 seconds. 

It’s a remarkable story of achievement and determination, with it Nyad’s fifth attempt to make the crossing. The first was in 1978, followed by some thirty years of no competitive swimming—when she instead worked as a journalist and broadcaster, reporting around the globe for Wide World of Sports—and then subsequent attempts in 2011 (two that year) and 2012 before the successful 2013 swim.

The book is a great personal story, one that covers the sexual abuse she received as a teenager at the hands of a swim coach, one who was never formally punished. She had a fascinating family, with a caring mother, and a charismatic, deceitful, and violent father. Nyad wrote about the eight years she spent with her mom after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's before her 2007 death. Nyad turned 60 two years after that, and then decided to train again for another Cuba to Florida attempt.

The book features many great quotes, including from Nyad that life is not what we expect, and how she strove to tackle every day with no regrets, so that each could “not be done a fingernail better.” Also noted as important to Nyad is a Mary Oliver quote "tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

It’s a great story of teamwork and pain endured, including the box jellyfish that were a constant source of life-threatening danger, and the reason for multiple failed attempts. The stories of stings, and then preventative measures taken to try to avoid them were remarkable. It was inspiring stuff from Nyad and a really good book.