Diana Nyad, Marathon Swimmer, To Give Lecture at Harris Center, 3/11
In the 1970s, Diana Nyad achieved her dream of becoming the greatest long-distance swimmer in the world. But she topped that in 2013 - at the age of 64 - when she successfully completed the 110-mile, 53-hour swim from Cuba to Florida. It was a first; as she says, "you are never too old to chase your dreams." From her amazing athletic feats to her bravery in discussing the abuse she experienced as a high school swimming star, Diana Nyad is an eloquent and inspiring speaker. Her lecture at Harris Center concludes the 2017-18 Folsom Lake College Speakers Series.
An Evening With Diana Nyad will take place on Sunday, March 11, 2018; 7:00 pm. Tickets are $29-$54; Premium $64. Students with ID $12. Tickets are available online at www.harriscenter.net or from the Harris Center Ticket Office at 916-608-6888 from noon to 6 pm, Monday through Saturday, and two hours before show time. Parking permits are issued at the time of ticket purchase. The Harris Center is located on the west side of the Folsom Lake College campus in Folsom, CA, facing East Bidwell Street.
Back in the 1970s, Nyad was widely known as the greatest long-distance swimmer in the world. She circled Manhattan Island and crossed the 102.5 miles between the Bahamas and Florida. She broke world records, won international acclaim and was inducted into the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame.
Nyad was, in those days, nothing less than a star. "There were pictures of her on the front pages of the New York papers. She was on 'Saturday Night Live.' Nyad was twenty-six; her looks and her pronounced confidence made her a natural for television: she made a dazzling appearance on the 'Tonight Show.' Her friend Bonnie Stoll remembers, 'She walked on to Johnny Carson's show as if it was her show - no fear whatsoever' " (New Yorker).
Nyad tried to retire from swimming at age 30, becoming a prominent sports broadcaster for NPR, ABC's Wide World of Sports, and Fox Sports. She went on to become the author of the 2015 memoir, Find a Way, and three other books. She is a national fitness icon, a talented linguist, and a powerful and engaging public speaker.
But she wasn't done breaking records. On September 2, 2013, at the age of sixty-four, Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the aid of a shark cage, swimming 111 miles in fifty-three hours from Havana to Key West.
It was a quest that had begun years ago: in July of 2010, at the age of 60, she began her "Xtreme Dream" quest of swimming from Cuba to Florida, a task she had failed to finish thirty years prior. When asked her motivation, she replied, "Because I'd like to prove to the other 60-year-olds that it is never too late to start your dreams." But Nyad was unsuccessful in her mission in 2010 and tried two more times 2011 and 2012 before completing the historic swim in 2013.
Diana Nyad is not one to quit.
She had decided the 2013 effort would be her fifth and final attempt. Upon completing her grueling journey, a breathless Nyad told the world, "I have three messages. One is we should never ever give up. Two is you are never too old to chase your dreams. And three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it takes a team."
How hard is such a swim? She was stung by a swarm of box jellyfish, the ocean's most venomous creatures, on her second try. It was like being "dipped in hot burning oil and your body is in flames. Just frozen in agony." Indeed, an ability to tolerate pain is almost a requisite among marathon swimmers like Ms. Nyad. "The body suffers from being immersed for days in salt water: when a swimmer swallows water as she breathes, it abrades the soft tissue of the lips, the tongue, and the throat. The throat starts to swell shut... in one case, 'they literally had to cut the person's throat to get air in' " (New Yorker).
Diana Nyad's bravery is not limited to athletics. Her saga of having been repeatedly molested by her high school swim coach from age 14 is newly noteworthy in the current #MeToo era. She confronted him at age 21, which lead to his firing. The riveting account of this chapter in her life was published in the New York Times on November 9, 2017.
New Yorker profile
New York Times essay on her abuse:
This Year Marks Seven Seasons of Great Shows. Up Close. In Folsom!
The Harris Center for the Arts at Folsom Lake College brings the community together to share in cultural experiences featuring the work of artists from throughout the region and around the world. Built and operated by the Los Rios Community College District, the $50 million, state-of-the-art regional performing arts center boasts three intimate venues with outstanding acoustics, an art gallery, a recording studio, elegant teaching spaces, plenty of safe parking and all the other amenities of a world-class performing arts venue. Each year the Center hosts approximately 400 events attracting upwards of 150,000 annually.