Here is an inspiring article about Diana Nyad, a 61-year-old American endurance swimmer who just jumped into Cuban waters yesterday evening and set off in a bid to become the first person to swim across the Florida Straits without the aid of a shark cage.

Nyad said it has been a lifelong dream and she hopes her feat, if successful, will inspire people to live vigorously during their golden years. She first had a go at this crossing as a 28-year-old back in 1978, when she swam inside a steel shark cage for about 42 hours before sea currents hammering her off course put an end to that attempt.

The following year she set a world record for open-water swimming without a shark cage, charting 102.5 miles (165 kilometers) from the Bahamas to Florida before retiring from competitive endurance swimming. This distance record for non-stop swimming without a wetsuit still stands today. She also broke numerous world records, including the 45-year-old mark for circling Manhattan Island (7 hrs, 57 min) in 1975.

Still, she said the aborted Cuba attempt stuck with her all these years, and upon turning 60, she started thinking about a comeback. “Until a year ago, I hadn’t swum a stroke for 31 years,” Nyad said on her website.

“Swimmer’s burnout gripped me to the point that I could have sworn I would never, ever swim a lap again in my life. But approaching 60 last year threw me into the existential angst of wondering what I had done with my life. I felt choked by how little time seemed left. I started swimming a few laps, just to take some pressure off the knees from all the other activities I enjoy.”

For the record to be considered valid, Nyad will have to make the swim without a wetsuit. Her crew will navigate, monitor her health and provide nourishment. But she is not allowed to touch the boat, nor can her helpers hold her, until she emerges fully onto dry land. Even that could be a challenge in Florida’s mangrove thickets, exhausted and with no land legs after 2½ days of swimming.

She plans to stop every 45 minutes for 20-second hydration breaks—water, juice, sports drinks. Every 90 minutes she’ll rest for 2 minutes and nibble on bread or a spoonful of peanut butter.

You can follow her progress with a CNN crew that is in a chase boat by going here .

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