Cuban President Raul Castro and American President Barack Obama met earlier this month, the first meeting between heads of the two nations in almost 90 years, and both leaders referenced open water swimmer Diana Nyad as inspiration for the future relationship between the two countries.
NPR reports that Castro brought up Nyad’s story during a joint press conference featuring both world leaders.
Nyad famously swam from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage, believed to be the first person in history to accomplish that feat.
“If she can do it, we can do it,” Castro said in the NPR piece, referencing the trials and obstacles Cuba and the United States will face in trying to repair a relationship that has been rocky since at least the Cold War.
Obama referenced Nyad’s story in his comments as well, according to NPR.
“The road ahead will not be easy,” he said. “Fortunately, we don’t have to swim with sharks.”
Nyad’s name popping up in such a high-level political atmosphere speaks to the growing role sports have played in mending fences between the two nations. Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays traveled to Cuba to face the Cuban national team earlier this month, with Obama in attendance at the event.