Oprah interviews Diana Nyad who inspired the world when she became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage, at age 64, in just under 53 hours. Relying on her mantra “Find A Way,” Nyad proved that anything is possible, at any age. It’s a revealing conversation about chasing dreams, pushing limits, and daring with intention and purpose.
Diana Nyad was a prodigy in the pool from the time she started swimming competitively at age ten, with a passion and a vision beyond her years. She first earned international acclaim in 1975 when she swam around Manhattan in a record breaking eight hours. Four years later, and several world records to her name, Nyad would retire from swimming on her 30th birthday.
She went on to become a professional sportscaster, author and motivational speaker. While success followed her wherever she went, she had a lingering dream to accomplish a feat that many called impossible. After losing her mother in 2007, and experiencing what she called “an existential crisis,” Nyad returned to the ocean and to a journey that would test her mind, body and soul.
‘Oprah & Swimming Champion Diana Nyad Part Two: Dare To Dream’ episode description (airing this Sunday, October 13):
Oprah’s conversation continues with world champion marathon swimmer, Diana Nyad, as she shares the spiritual lessons realized from dreaming big, achieving the impossible and finding joy in the face of skepticism.
At 64, Nyad captivated the world when, on her fifth and final attempt, she became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida, without a shark cage. While experts, friends and family alike said it couldn’t be done, Nyad’s iron-will would not be swayed. When faced with unending obstacles and excruciating pain, Nyad’s spirit would not be defeated.
Marathon swimming, she says, is a microcosm of life. Find out how she worked through the pain and suffering to fulfill a dream of a lifetime and how this experience has elevated her sense of presence and mindfulness.
‘What a Real Warrior Looks Like’ transcript:
Diana Nyad: So I started thinking, my mom died at 82 does that mean, really, I have 22 years left and maybe those last two or three or four aren’t gonna be too vital. I don’t know.
Oprah Winfrey: Mm-hmm.
Diana Nyad: But the clock is, like, choking me now. And it wasn’t so much what did I want to do. It was who I want to be.
Oprah Winfrey: Whoa.
Diana Nyad: That’s what it was. There’s a Henry David Thoreau quote that really grips me hard and it says when you achieve your goals in life, it’s not what that gets you. But it’s who I am.
Oprah Winfrey: Right.
Diana Nyad: Mm-hmm.
Oprah Winfrey: Right.
Diana Nyad: It’s who I am. And I — and I needed — at 60 I needed to say, forget about the ledger. Are you in the halls of fame? Did you make some kind of money? I don’t care about that anymore. As you know, those things just — as you get older, who cares?
Oprah Winfrey: That’s right. That’s right.
Diana Nyad: It’s am I living the life that I can admire? Am I — am I gonna leave this earth maybe as you do leaving it a place where it’s a little more just than it was and human rights have been fulfilled more? Those are my values. And never giving up. And finding a way through your obstacles and — finding your grit and your will? Those are what I value. And at 60, it wasn’t about swimming. And this swim for me has never been about swimming. And I don’t think to anybody out there it’s been about swimming. It’s about those values. And you know what? I am that person. Swimming or not. And I proved it to myself and that’s why I did this swim.
Oprah Winfrey: Well, I think, in everything that you do when you think about giving up or you think that you’re tired? What you showed us all is what a real warrior looks like.
This release was provided to swimswam by Harpo Studios.