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A Conversation With Diana Nyad

The famed endurance swimmer on her latest achievement — and what she’s planning next

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Q: What did you learn from failure?

A: That the journey is worthwhile.

Q: You adopted a mantra, "Find a way." How did that work?

A: You get a little chill, you're hurting here. Say to yourself: "Find a way." Get through this one minute.

Q: How high are you now, having overcome the obstacles?

A: Actually, the satisfaction that I never gave up is stronger than the joy of making it.

Q: How does it feel to be a cultural icon?

A: Fame is vapid. If people feel inspired, that is deeply gratifying.

Q: You must hear from many people. Who has moved you?

A: One woman told me about her grandmother, Shirley, who gave in to cancer because she felt too old to fight. After hearing me say "never, ever give up," Shirley said good-bye to her whining and decided to fight her way back to health. You'll find a way, Shirley!

Q: What's next?

A: I'm definitely not going to be an ocean swimmer again. But I will continue to be an endurance swimmer. We started with a 48-hour swim in New York and declared loud and clear that we have not forgotten those hit by Superstorm Sandy. We'll team up again for disaster relief where and when it's needed.

Todd Pitock is a freelance writer.

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