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Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall…………

One of the many qualities that Female Competition International continues to admire about the female wrestlers of the NAIA colleges is their never say die attitude. Whenever it comes to our attention that a woman in another sport has demonstrated the very same traits to the highest level and should be admired and imitated by the women’s wrestling community, we feel it’s important to share their story.

CNN.com reported on Monday, September 2, 2013, Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a protective cage, willing her way to a Key West beach just before 2 p.m. ET, nearly 53 hours after jumping into the ocean in Havana for her fifth try in 35 years.

Every stroke she swam put her deeper into record territory. On Sunday night, she broke Penny Palfrey’s record for the farthest anyone has managed on the trek without a shark cage.

In 1997, Australian Susie Maroney completed the swim from within a shark cage. She was 22 at the time.

Ms. Nyad set out from Havana at 8:59 a.m. Saturday with a crew of 35, including divers to watch for sharks.

In her first attempt to cross the Straits of Florida in 1978, rough seas left her battered, delirious and less than halfway toward her goal. She tried again twice in 2011, but her efforts ended after an 11-hour asthma attack and jellyfish stings.

Last year, she abandoned an attempt about halfway through after severe jellyfish stings and a lightning storm put her in danger.

Wikipedia research shares Ms. Nyad was born in New York City on August 22, 1949, to stockbroker William Sneed and his wife Lucy Curtis. Her father died when she was an infant and when Diana was three her mother married Aristotle Nyad, a Greek land developer who adopted Diana. Coincidentally, the name Nyad is pronounced the same as naiad, a water nymph in Greek mythology. The family moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she began swimming seriously in grade seven.

The LAtimes.com related Ms. Nyad was a successful youth swimmer and an Olympic prospect when illness ended that career at 17. Since then she has built a successful niche as an author of three books, a motivational speaker and as a reporter and commentator.

Wikipedia expands on this aspect of her life. She was enrolled at the private Pine Crest School in the mid-1960s, swimming under the tutelage of Olympian and Hall of Fame coach Jack Nelson. She won three Florida state high school championships in the Backstroke at 100 and 200 yards (91 and 183m). She dreamed of swimming in the 1968 Summer Olympics, but in 1966 she spent three months in bed with endocarditis, an infection of the heart, and when she began swimming again she had lost speed.

Nyad has authored three books, Other Shores (Random House: September 1978) about her life and distance swimming, Basic Training for Women (Harmony Books: 1981), and in 1999 she wrote a biography of an NFL wide-receiver Boss of Me: The Keyshawn Johnson Story. She has also written for The New York Times, Newsweek magazine, and other publications. Diana and her best friend Bonnie Stoll (former No. 3 in the world on the Pro Racquetball Tour) have formed a company called BravaBody which is aimed at providing online exercise advice to women over 40, with the two world-class athletes giving direct inspiration and custom-made work-outs. As of 2006, she also delivered motivational talks to groups through the Gold Star speaker’s agency.

Ms. Nyad was inducted into the United States National Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1986, and in 2003 was honored with her induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. She is a Hall of Famer at both her college, Lake Forest College in Illinois and at her high school, Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale.

Open-water marathon swimming was born in August 1875, when British shipping Captain Matthew Webb plunged into the English Channel at Dover and started breast stroking eastward. He pawed through thickets of jellyfish and swirling currents, and after 21 hours and 45 minutes, he landed at Calais, France. He accomplished what many had thought impossible, becoming the first man to power himself unaided across the busy shipping lane, we’re informed by news.nationalgeographic.com.

Webb’s feat, replicated by more than 1,000 people since, is honored today by a set of standards—referred to simply as “English Channel rules”—that have come to govern most swims of ten miles or more in the small and quirky sport.

According to these rules, swimmers should not wear or use anything that will aid their speed, buoyancy, heat retention, or endurance. That means no wetsuits, no fins, and no sleeves. Swim caps can be latex or silicone, but not neoprene, which boosts warmth.

Above all, swimmers must have no physical contact with their boat or any person, other than moments when food and drink is shared. Clinging to a boat means automatic disqualification.

Under the English Channel rules, swimmers who want to be recognized for a successful crossing must have on board an independent observer who marks their progress and records the course. (Most channel swimming associations require this.) Those notes create a record that not only provides proof of a swimmer’s success, but also guides other swimmers on the best routes and the best tides, so that they too may cross successfully.


What helped Ms. Nyad to endure all those endless hours out at sea? Nbcnews.com shares Nyad trained for years, swimming for days at a time, as well as lifting weights. And her previous attempts kept her in the sea for as long as two days straight. She says she performs mental tricks to keep herself going, counting her strokes in English, German, Spanish and French and singing songs to herself. “There’s a song list in my brain of 85 songs,” she told a news conference on Tuesday. “Neil Young is my favorite.”

Steve Siebold, a well-respected writer for the Huffington Post focuses on Diana Nyad and provides some insights on what can help us achieve important and extremely difficult lifetime goals. Here are some of his suggestions.

Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is. Nyad has a “Whatever it takes” attitude. She’s made the decision to pay any price and bear any burden in the name of victory.

Embrace obstacles to growth. When most people run into an obstacle, they seek escape. Her obstacles included jellyfish, rough seas and thunderstorms, but she kept pushing for as long as she could.

[pullquoteleft] A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history………….
Mahatma Gandhi[/pullquoteleft]

Nyad looks to others to support her on so many levels. One of the biggest problems is that most people have no means of accountability or a support system in place when it comes to what they’re trying to accomplish. She has a team helping her every step of the way, and if you get with people who support and encourage you to accomplish your goals, you’re more likely to be successful.

Ms. Nyad spend hours practicing, studying the conditions, looking back on past performances and works closely with her coaches and mentors. If the average person adopted just a fraction of her work ethic, the results they could achieve would be endless.

Diana Nyad knows ‘very good’ isn’t ‘best.’ For the average person, to be classified as very good is something to be proud of. For the great ones like Nyad, it’s an insult.

Make “Do or die” commitments. When most people are burned out from the battle, the world-class are just getting warmed up. It’s not that she doesn’t fatigue; but her commitment to her dream keeps her going.

Compartmentalize emotions. In other words, she has the ability to put aside anything else going on at that very moment and focus only on the task in front of her. Sure she has things going on in her personal life, but despite that she manages to stay focused on her goal.

Finally, be a big thinker. Ask most people what they’re thinking at any given time, and you might be surprised to learn how many think about just getting by. That’s called selling yourself short. Nyad is fearless and focused on manifesting her ultimate dream of accomplishing that swim.

We can learn much from an ordinary person who achieved and surpassed extraordinary goals. Our great sport, women’s fully competitive wrestling requires that competitors continue to improve and set new goals. As the sport continues to evolve especially with the inclusion of mixed martial arts and other disciplines, like Ms. Nyad, never giving up is recipe for success.

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Sources: Brainyquote.com, CNN.com, Wikipedia, Huffingtompost.com, news.nationalgeographic.com, NVCnews.com, LAtimes.com, Photos courtesy Wikimedia Commons.