Diana Nyad’s moving memoir of her life as a woman, a lesbian, a world record holding endurance swimmer, and a survivor of child sexual abuse. The book was significantly better than I expected. I figured I’d be reading about Nyad’s legendary marathon swim around Manhattan and her decades long quest to swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys. But there is so much more. There is her complicated childhood with a sexually abusive and manipulative father, her teenage swimming career almost destroyed by the sexual abuse of her coach, and there is her full adult life of relationships, heartbreak, travel, and enduring friendships. What I thought was going to be another in the long line of memoirs of endurance athletes, turned out to be much much more.
Sure the swimming is in here, and in enough detail to satiate the endurance nerds out there. There’s tons and tons of information here on her multiple attends to cross from Cuba to Havana. Including the the obsessive planning around currents, hydration, anti-jellyfish technologies, and more. There is the insane training i(12 hours, straight, in a pool, 18 hours, straight, in the ocean) which boggles the mind. And there is the comradery of her support crew. I ate all this stuff up, of course, but what makes this book worth your time isn’t the swimming, it’s how the swimming fits into Nyad’s complicated, and compelling life story of arguably obsessive self determination.
While much of the story transcends the sport of endurance swimming, most of the book is still about the Cuba-Florida swim. If that incredible endeavor, with all its challenges and controversies doesn’t interest you, you’re likely to be bored. If it does, check this out, its better than you expect.
Recommended for the enthusiast.