Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen (2016)

Diana Nyad

On September 2, 2013, at the age of sixty-four, aquatic marathoner Diana Nyad (1949–) became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the aid of a shark cage. It was her fifth attempt.

Nyad began her swimming career in seventh grade, training under a famed Olympian coach and winning three Florida state high school championships before she became a marathon swimmer. She has broken multiple world records, including a fifty-year-old one by swimming around Manhattan in under eight hours. Later in her life, Nyad revealed that she had been raped by her swim coach and had channeled her rage into her sport.

She attempted her first swim from Havana to Key West at the age of twenty-eight, but was derailed by strong winds that slammed her against the shark cage and pushed her off course. She hung up competitive swimming at thirty and became a broadcast sports journalist for the next three decades. But at the dawn of her sixtieth birthday and after the passing of her mother, with whom she had had a fragile relationship due to her rocky childhood, Nyad decided to put her goggles back on and realize her lifelong dream of completing that 110-mile swim. Four more attempts and four years later, Nyad finished the fifty-three-hour swim and walked onto the shores of Key West, crediting one motto: “Find a way.”

Never, ever stop swimming