U.S. swimmer Diana Nyad in 1975

Photo: Lynn Pelham/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

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August 1978
Diana was 28 years old when she first attempted to swim from Havana to Key West, Florida—just one year after President Jimmy Carter let strict Kennedy-era travel restrictions between the countries expire. Unfortunately, a strong current pushed Diana, who was swimming inside a protective shark cage, miles off course and into the Gulf of Mexico. When her team scooped her out of the water, she was less than halfway to her goal.

Two years later, for her 30th birthday, Diana broke distance records with a 102-mile swim from Bimini, in the Bahamas, to Juno Beach, Florida. That's when she decided to retire from swimming. Thirty-two years later, she wrote the following about the event in her blog: "Swimmer's burnout gripped me to the point that I could have sworn I would never, ever swim a lap again in my life."
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