Words

Find a Way

Diana Nyad’s current attraction

Attend

What: Diana Nyad reads from Find a Way

When: 7 pm Mon., Aug. 6

Where: Village Books, 1200 11th St.

Cost: Free

Info: http://www.villagebooks.com

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Fifty years ago, Diana Nyad was expelled from Emory University for donning a parachute and jumping out of a fourth-floor dormitory window—which may have been one of the first hints she was a rule-breaker with an exhilarating amount of confidence.

Ten years later, after making national headlines by swimming 28 miles around the island of Manhattan in under eight hours, Nyad would once again attempt an unlikely physical feat by trying to swim from Havana, Cuba, to Key West, Florida. She spent 42 hours in the water and covered approximately 76 miles (not in a straight line), but ultimately had to exit the ocean due to dangerous winds that were pushing her off course.

In Find A Way: The Inspiring Story of One Woman’s Pursuit of a Lifelong Dream, the author and athlete shares how she never gave up on her passion project, and what it took to eventually locomote to another country.

“To swim all the way from one nation to another, from this particular forbidden land to my home country, to fully comprehend the lives of so many Cubans who left this very shore, in makeshift rafts in the middle of the night, speaks a compelling drama,” Nyad writes in her memoir of preparing for the third out of five attempts to make the crossing on Sept. 23, 2011. “Apolitical as I am, it’s a drama written by impactful events that has always gripped me.

“This passage, considering the powerful Gulf Stream, with its attendant eddies and countercurrents, the particular dangerous animals lurking beneath, is unlike any other hundred-mile ocean crossing on Earth. Were you to spread out the nautical charts of all the globe’s equatorial waters, those warm enough for a swim of this length, you simply couldn’t find a more challenging hundred miles for a swimmer. This stretch, Cuba to Florida, is where Mother Nature rages. We all, the Cubans and our team alike, grasp the gravitas of the occasion. History extends across the sea before us.”

On that attempt, near-fatal jellyfish stings and strong currents curtailed the crossing, and a fourth effort a year later ended because of inclement weather and even more jellyfish stings.

On Aug. 31, 2013, her final effort to make the dangerous crossing was successful. Nyad was 64 years old when she became the first person confirmed to have swum from Havana to Key West without the aid of a shark cage, and she allows she wasn’t as cocky as she’d been when she was 28 and had protection from sharks. The swim, she says, has always demanded and defined the kind of person she wanted to be. 

In Find a Way, readers will also learn about the many kind of strengths Nyad possesses. She’s a world-class athlete, and she’s also a proud lesbian who never saw the need to stay in the closet—even when she was told her broadcasting career at ABC Sports would’ve gone a lot further if she pretended to be straight. She’s also a sexual abuse survivor and a woman who has never given up on her dreams.

When Village Books teams up with Fairhaven Runners & Walkers to host Nyad for a Mon., Aug. 6 stop in Bellingham—where she’ll be passing through with her EverWalk team on their sojourn from White Rock, B.C. to Seattle—attendees can discover more about how she found her own pathway, and how it’s changed her life.

“There is no other ocean crossing that would move me to dream again, to train like that again,” Nyad says in a caption from one of the many photos from the epic Cuba swims included in the book. “Now it’s my challenge to live that same fierce way out of the water.”

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