MIAMI (AFP) – Un, deux, trois: US swimmer Diana Nyad said Tuesday she hummed Neil Young songs and counted in foreign languages during her record-setting Cuba-to-Florida crossing.
On Monday, the 64-year-old American became the first person to swim the perilous stretch without the protection of a shark cage.
And how did she get herself through some of those grueling 52 hours, 54 minutes and 18.6 seconds?
“When you’re feeling good and you’re cruising through the daylight hours, you’re singing Neil Young songs to yourself and counting in French and German and Spanish and just passing the time,” Nyad told CNN.
But the feat was also fraught with difficulties and dark moments during which her focus was just on forging ahead.
Nyad said a special mask she wore to protect herself from jellyfish caused her to swallow a lot of salt water.
“I was very sick,” she said.
“When you’re suffering, and I have to say that … I had two nights of full suffering this time with the mask, with the saltwater,” she added.
“Now you’re not thinking of anything. You’re just coping and surviving and your team is somehow helping you make it through.”
However, she stressed, all the physical strain was worth making her decades-old dream come true, enabling her to send an inspirational message to others.
“If something really is important to your heart, you look and see what’s inside yourself and you find a way,” she said.
The stars aligned in her favor on her fifth try to realize her quest, Nyad said, noting the Gulf Stream was her “friend.”
“This time I got lucky.”