I cheered when I learned Diana Nyad had become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. Imagine, she started swimming on Saturday morning and didn’t stop until Monday afternoon. Her grit and determination are nothing short of extraordinary, and her achievement has touched people around the world. Even President Obama tweeted about it, saying “Never give up on your dreams.”
I have long been inspired by Diana. Though I am not an endurance swimmer, I share her love of the oceans. I was already working to protect coastal waters when she made her first attempt at swimming to Cuba in 1978.
Then, after a 30-year break from swimming, she decided to do it again—at the age of 60. Diana tried three times over the past few years and was thwarted by punishing winds, intense storms, and relentless jellyfish. But she never gave up. She remained committed to her dream, and this year she achieved it.
Diana is an unusually gifted athlete, but she is not alone in her deep appreciation for the ocean. While she was undertaking her swim, many of us were spending the weekend at beloved beaches or marveling at ocean views or enjoying a meal of fresh seafood. The oceans feed our soul and power our economy, but they also show the distress of our pollution and neglect.
The good news is we know how to revive ocean waters. We know that solutions such as creating marine protected areas, helping fish stocks rebound, and managing our ocean resources in a coordinated way can nurture marine ecosystems. NRDC advocates for these solutions because we want the next generation of Diana’s to pursue their dreams in clean, vibrant oceans.
“When I am out there,” Diana told NRDC. “I don’t feel like a fish, I don’t have gills and I am not going to sprout them, but I do feel some sort of simpatico with the beings in the ocean, like I am in their territory. I am not there to beat the ocean. I am just there to be accepted by it and obey its rules.”
On behalf of all of us at NRDC, I salute Diana for the respect she shows the oceans and I congratulate her on her remarkable achievement. We will continue to draw inspiration from her as we fight to protect the oceans we all love so much.