Part of Outsports’ series on our 100 most important moments in gay sports history.
Swimming, 1979. In 1978, Diana Nyad's attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida was thwarted by bad weather that repeatedly sent her smashing into the side of a shark cage. The disappointment of not completing the record 103-mile swim didn't deter her, and the following year she completed a record 102-mile swim from Bimini in the Bahamas to Juno Beach, Florida. The swim catapulted her into the national conscience where she has remained ever since.
Nyad never came out of the closet publicly; She was simply never in. She has spoken on the issue of LGBT athletes in sports many times, but her focus has always been on sports. A review of her Web site shows no mention of her being an out lesbian or LGBT or gay issues of any kind.
Much like Billie Jean King, her place as an athlete supersedes her place as a lesbian athlete, something many gay people in sports dream of. Diana is a member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
At 61, Nyad isn't finished. This summer she is venturing back into the water for one last swim: She's going to try again to swim from Cuba to Florida. If successful, she will break her own 32-year-old distance swimming record; And she'll make a statement about not just LGBT athletes, but even more importantly the physical fitness and mental fortitude of those past their prime.
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