Senior swimmer leads the way in personal challenges

"Life teaches us that youthful success is easy. Success is incredibly accessible if you define it conveniently, as those second-rate compromises we settle for every day or as choosing safety over challenging yourself. Diana looked us in the eye and said with love but without equivocation, No, you can do better. You know you can. Get up, wake up, you can do whatever you set your mind to, or at least you can try. Diana wouldn’t let us get away with using age as a rationalization for being tentative about challenging ourselves. This swim was about setting the bar low for an entire generation. It was about the importance of reaching beyond our grasp, whatever the day, whatever the outcome, about the courage to risk engaging in life with our best selves." (Source: Diana Nyad Extreme Dream, "Lessons from the Swim").


Talk about setting the bar high.

Since yesterday, 61 year-old marathon swimmer Diana Nyad has been making headlines over her attempt to swim across the shark-infested waters between Cuba and the Florida Keys. Ms. Nyad first attempted to traverse these waters in 1978, but was forced to end the swim after 41 hours. Hailed by CNN as “a hero”, winds from 5-10 knots an hour again forced Nyad to end this latest swim after an astounding 29 hours in the water.

Nyad’s swim garnered heavy coverage from newspaper and networks around the world. Conventional newspapers provide readers with lengthier articles chronicling and analyzing events while, or after they happen. Social media sites like Twitter provide readers with a new way to follow current events: Minute-by-minute, as every detail unfolds.

Reading a longer article is rewarding and wrought with interesting detail and facts. But following along on sites like Twitter give the same events a fresh sense of what sometimes seems like breathless excitement. Ms. Nyad’s Twitter feed is a perfect example. 

Ms. Nyad’s companion boat was there to keep an eye out for her health and safety. Fortunately it was also filled with dedicated “tweeters”, who posted short, up-to-the minute updates as they rolled in. (Click here to her account) . For those new to Twitter, it’s important to note that updates are posted in reverse-chronological order. So, the postings (a.k.a., “tweets”) you read first are the most recent. Scroll to the bottom to look farther back into the details from the start.

A senior citizen, Ms. Nyad has said that she hoped her swim would inspire others her age to live an active lifestyle. Nyad’s challenge was clearly a physical one, but just as rewarding can be learning new tasks or exploring new ideas.

Read your favourite papers online, but perhaps try following along with events on twitter. Many newspapers have their own accounts and often “live blog” the events. See how simple and easy it can be to email these links to friends and family so they can follow along too. Maybe even start your own social media account (like Facebook) to keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the lives of your loved ones.

Challenges come in all shapes and sizes. What will yours be?