More than four years after completing an epic swim from Havana to Key West, Diana Nyad is back in the island city leading a walking initiative that passes the beach where she stepped out of the ocean Sept. 2, 2013.
At age 64 and on her fifth attempt, Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. She completed the almost 111-mile ocean crossing in 52 hours and 54 minutes.
Tuesday morning, Nyad and expedition leader Bonnie Stoll led some 20 walkers on a 10-mile trek around the island city where they trained for the marathon swim.
The walk is part of a five-day Key West facet of Nyad and Stoll’s EverWalk program, a nationwide initiative designed to inspire Americans to make walking a healthy party of their daily lives.
“EverWalk is the Cuba swim spirit now put to the road instead of the ocean,” said Nyad. “We felt out there that ‘never give up, look up at blue sky, look down at the blue sea and feel who you are, who do you want to be.’ And that’s what we want these EverWalkers to feel.”
Tuesday’s walk included a stop at the Smathers Beach spot where Nyad came ashore at the conclusion of her record-setting swim. Nearby is a bronze plaque commemorating the accomplishment that was installed by the City of Key West.
“I can stand here on Smathers Beach and look out, and I can get a lump in my throat,” admitted Nyad, who first attempted the Cuba-to-Key-West swim in 1978. “It was a lot of years — it was a saga. I started when I was 28, this adventure, and I finished it when I was 64.”
Nyad and Stoll are to lead daily 10-mile EverWalks in Key West through Friday, April 6, and encourage Florida Keys residents and visitors to join walkers from around the country for all or part of each day’s route.