Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Hunger: Diana Nyad and the pursuit of an "Xtreme Dream"


In August of last year, I received a phone call that changed my life. I had just married the woman of my dreams, our art gallery was beginning to recover from the recession and I was in the early stages of launching a web development and social media consultancy business.

When I answered the phone, the voice of a close friend said to me "Alex, I have a job for you." Diana Nyad, the world champion long distance swimmer needed my help. Her attempt to swim across the Florida Straits from Cuba to Florida ended after 26 hours in the water. But she was not finished. In fact, she would be leaving for Cuba in a couple weeks to try it again, a dream that would not die, so difficult some would call it impossible, but in her mind it was a forgone conclusion that she would walk on the Florida shore 60 hours after jumping into the harbor in Havana.

I joined Diana's team as her webmaster, tasked with a similarly impossible task of keeping her website from crashing when 1 million people stopped by to get hourly updates on her progress. The blog posts I  transcribed arrived to me via a sat phone on ship to a scribe in New York and then on to me, to post on the website and spread the word on Twitter and Facebook. At all hours, I would await a phone call with the latest news to share. Being the #1 trending topic on Twitter was a heavy cross to bear! Luckily, I had many friends supporting me in this herculean effort.

Alas, Diana was stung twice by deadly box jellyfish and yet continued to swim towards her dream, until the poison forced her to abandon the swim. But quit is a word not in Diana's vocabulary. In about a month, Diana will once again set off for Cuba to make her swim across the ocean, at the youthful age of 62. When I speak to her, there is no doubt that this time she will make it. And I could not be prouder to be a part of her team.

Rivka Galchen has written an amazing profile of Diana in this month's issue of Elle Magazine. If you have ever faced a seemingly impossible challenge, take a moment to read Diana's story and be inspired to live your life with no regrets, and pursue your goals with passion and determination.

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