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Outfest 2013: Diana Nyad swims to 'The Other Shore'

July 18, 2013|By Susan King
  • Legendary long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad's attempt to swim from Cuba to Key West are chronicled in the documentary "The Other Shore."
Legendary long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad's attempt to swim from… (Karen Christensen )

Champion long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad admits she often was at loggerheads with the producer/director of “The Other Shore,” a new documentary chronicling her decision at age 60 to attempt to swim the treacherous, shark- and jellyfish-infested 103 miles from Cuba to Key West, Fla.

“Maybe I am a strong personality and maybe it’s a simple fact the film was about me,” said Nyad, who’s a fit, tough and age-defying 63.

Timothy Wheeler, the writer/director, just happens to be her nephew. “He put three years of his life and all of his savings into the film,” Nyad said.

"Tim said to me, 'I don’t think this is going to work unless you let it be my film,' " Nyad noted. So she let go. And in the end, she said, her nephew captured “the essence of who I am. It’s a story of courage and just seeking a thrill through tapping one’s ultimate potential.”

Nyad won’t be attending the 2013 Outfest screening of “The Other Shore,” at 5 p.m. Friday at the Directors Guild of America, because she's back in Key West hoping to make her final attempt at the swim.

“I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life in this particular quest,” she said over the phone from Key West. “We are training every day. I dreamed of it years ago. Swimmers have been trying since 1950 to swim it. It is just filled with rich imagination."

Nyad first came to fame in the 1970s for her long-distance swimming feats, including a record-setting circling of Manhattan and a swim from the Bahamas to Florida that was a grueling 102 miles and took 27 hours.

She first attempted the Cuba-to-Key West swim in 1978 but gave up after 40 hours. More than 30 years later, Nyad, at 60, revived her dream. Three attempts failed, due to asthma, muscle fatigue, jellyfish and a tropical storm.

For the last year she’s been working with a doctor in Pasadena on a silicone mask that will protect her from the dangerous stings of jellyfish, which she said pose far more danger than a shark attack.

“It’s cumbersome and you go slower than you should," she said, "but I don’t care. It makes me feel like I am 100% safe.”

Nyad said: “When I first when started this in my 20s and when I started again when I turned 60, I had much more bravado to me. I have lost every ounce of that bravado. I wouldn’t say I’m scared, I am just teeming with respect at this daunting journey. I am at the end of my journey and the journey has been so much deeper than a sport. It is about dreaming big.”


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