Nyad, Diana nī´ăd [key], 1949–, American distance swimmer, b. New York City as Diana Sneed, grad. Lake Forest College, 1973. She began swimming seriously as a teenager, becoming interested in distance swimming in college. She set the women's record (8 hr 11 min) in the Bay of Naples race (22 mi/35 km) in 1974, swam the 28.5 miles (45.9 km) around Manhattan in 7 hr 57 min in 1975, and set a distance record for swimming without a wetsuit (102 mi/164 km from Bimini, Bahamas, to Juno Beach, Fla.) in 1979. In 2013 she became the first person to swim the the Straits of Florida (110 mi/180 km) from Havana, Cuba, to Key West, Florida, without a shark cage. Her fifth attempt since 1978, the swim took 52 hr 54 min; her previous attempts had been thwarted by severe weather and jellyfish stings. Some questioned the feat because she used a special mask and full-body suit (to protect against jellyfish) and she achieved unusual speeds at times, but the fastest parts of her journey were apparently aided by strong currents.
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