My Turn on DWTS


It may have been short-lived, but my experience on DWTS was intense. Every single person I come across, friends and strangers alike, start with their own assumption: “It must have been SO MUCH FUN!!” Actually, fun is not the word for my particular adventure. It was intense.

After minor knee surgery end of December, I started getting this swimmer’s body prepped for dance immersion. And, from the moment I met my partner, the sublime Henry Byalilov, it was total immersion indeed. That month is what I take with me. Like most people, I have always loved to dance. And what is perhaps a laughable statement now (lol), I have all my life been considered a pretty good dancer by my peer group. Yet I found the steps of the dances I got to take to the DWTS Ballroom (Foxtrot and ChaChaCha) challenging. To watch Henry demonstrate the roll of hips, the precision of footwork, the balance of frame was to spend many hours a day with a master of any art or sport. I was riveted to learn about transfer of movement, forward lean in Latin dances, flexed legs in ballroom, along with a hundred other dance and body details. Henry was delightfully articulate as he taught. He would sing and count and use his rhythm phrases (tic y tak y tak y tak). Now a mere 28, he started dancing seriously in his native Australia at the age of 8. So here he is, a veteran of Broadway (Burn the Floor), an elegant ballet dancer, with his first chance to be a principal dancer on DWTS. He took me as far as I could go in both dances. Absurd, and obvious, to say I don’t have the ability of Meryl or James or Danica. But Henry was masterful, as both teacher and choreographer, to make sure I tackled the highest level I could personally achieve in the time we had to rehearse.

Both nights, Henry declared I did the dances the best I ever did them. Neither of us could ask any more of me. I will admit to you that while I shined a big smile and held my head high that night of elimination, my pride was wounded. One, I so very much wanted to continue at least a few more weeks so that the country could get to know Henry the way I know him. If only his partner next season has the potential to go far in the competition! Two, I of course had to be prepared for possible elimination. Optimism and confidence are to be admired, but realism and the grace of acceptance are also part of chasing any dream. Henry and I were lauded for our class upon announcement of our departure. Neither of us would behave in any other way. But I ask you….was it fair, was it right, was it class for the show to point-blank tell us we’re out and not even accord us the respect of hearing the judges’ opinions and scores? Is not the raison d’etre of the show to work and improve? Henry and I spent a disciplined, ardent, devoted week prepping that Cha Cha. Why were we not allowed to dance it, along all the other competitors, and learn our fate the way the other eliminated couple did that night, after a video of our week in the studio, after the judges’ comments?

What good does it do to nit-pick some of the production decisions? It is after all a Reality Television show, not an athletic paradigm of justice. As I do with everything in my life, I threw myself into my month with passion and unbridled commitment. I have long been a fan of the show, always wanted to participate. That dream has come to pass and I’m terribly grateful for the privilege.

Again, it’s not really the show itself, nor even the people involved (although those friendships no doubt would have deepened with more time on the show)….but rather the concentrated time with Henry that meant something to my life. I embraced the eccentricities of a dancer for a full month. Nothing else. The stretching, the recovery, the eating, the music, the memorizing of the choreography, going to sleep watching Henry’s instructions over and over on the ipad, the steep learning curve, the heels. I started to take prescription patches of Lidocaine pain medicine, cut strips for the balls of my feet….those heels were yet another challenge for me…but I was dealing!

I can’t speak for the other couples but in our short month together, along with the physicality of the dance rehearsals, Henry and I opened to each other. This is a young man with a razor-sharp intelligence, a gentlemanly charm, and a vibrant sense of delight. He speaks so fondly of his father, a man of many artistic talents but unfortunately faced with financial pressures and thus never got to pursue his dreams. And now he’s Henry’s biggest fan, so proud of his son who is throwing all his energy and focus into his flourishing dance career. Henry and I ate meals together, went to Cirque du Soleil to garner even more inspiration. We talked in the abstract about the differences between the male and female body, about my vision to do a one-woman stage show, about his refreshing view of America as a land of ambition and realizing one’s potential. And, by the way, I joked a few times about not suffering through the time of being locked in a dance studio with Henry, our warm bodies pressed up against each other for hours on end. So the gay community says: Say, what? We thought you were gay! Yes, I’m gay. I’m not dead.

I found each and every pro and celebrity warm and caring and embracing of the moment, as were Henry and I. Most of us would practice at the same location. We’d help each other with both emotional stuff going on….and with our actual routines. Sean Avery said to me one day: “I suck at this!” Sean’s an athlete. Intense. Demanding of himself. And I said to him: “OK, let’s say you do suck. So why don’t you go out there and suck double time?” And Sean had similar advice for me. He appeared sullen to some. I really liked him.

Derek Hough showed me a great deal of respect. He took the time to watch The Other Shore documentary and welled up with tears in telling me how much the story moved him. I have read several tweets saying too bad I’m not still on the show because, after Derek constantly having talented partners, it would be some kind of poetic justice to wind up with me on the switch week….finally a true challenge for him. Sorry to disappoint, Derek….lol.

Who can doubt that Meryl Davis is arguably the most talented dancer ever to perform on the show? She is simply dazzling. She and Maks make their complex routines appear effortless. I am in awe. Whenever one of the stars can allow the pro partner to show off, then you’ve got magic working on the floor. As a matter of fact, as an unabashed fan, I can safely declare this to be the highest level of talent among the stars in the history of the show. Along with Meryl, James is smooth as butter. Charlie is light as air, so very debonaire. Danica executes such a high technical and artistic level every time she steps on the floor. Candace has body control and expression in spades. And Amy Purdy is nothing short of miraculous.

Henry and I pretty much knew the depth of the field our very first morning together, for the first Good Morning America announcement of the cast. We were in the make-up trailer at 1:30am. Charlie and pro Tony Dovolani were kidding around doing some triple spins on the toes of their sneakers, landing with a sharp staccato pose for cameras at the end of the spins. Henry and I needed no words. Then, Meryl came over to take a piece of fruit from the buffet table. She just can’t help her grace. She lightly spun, lifted a pointed toe toward the ceiling as she took a slice of cantaloupe. Again, no need for words between me and Henry. Just then, in humorous relief, Billy Dee struggled by with a cane. Surely, we thought, there’s one we can beat. But we were soon to learn none of that mattered. All we could do is live our time together, Henry and I, in fierce and utter conviction. And so we did.

I had wonderful connections with all the cast…and the pros as well. Maks exudes his Russian, passionate roots. Henry actually is also of Russian descent, both parents from there. I loved hearing Henry chat in Russian with Maks, Val, Karina. Meryl shared with me the insular world of skating, where she has lived since age two, literally. She told me, aside from her mother, with whom she has a close relationship, she had never had the kinds of conversations she and I had with other women. Too much cutthroat competition in the skating world. We would hang in the make-up trailer a bit, talking about creativity….her face alive with joy at the chance to throw her whole self into these dances. I found young Cody Simpson incredibly kind and curious and polite. If he’s on his way to taking Justin Bieber’s place as a pop star, I’ll be in the front row. James Maslow also is about as sweet as they come. He and Charlie, as far out of my league as could be, always asked how I was coming along, gave me encouragement. Candace actually came to me in tears after my Foxtrot the first week. She knew how hard it was for me and was proud that I actually got through it….I won’t forget her kindness that night. Especially the horribly unflattering dress…that was a tough night for me…and my ego.

But back to the positive and that was the extraordinary level of engagement with Henry. I wound up unpacking my dance bag at home each night, to air out my dance shoes, soak my stockings….much as I would unpack my swim bag at the end of each training day. I loved the body dancing produces. I was proud that I never felt any soreness to speak of but I surely felt my body tightening and leaning out. And I started eating like Henry and the other dancers. There isn’t much fat, not to mention carbs, consumed in that group. But, far as I’m concerned, they are exquisitely beautiful bodies. The women are not in the least anorexic. They eat plenty. They train hard. They work. They’re both muscular and feminine. I have covered all kinds of sports over the last 35 years. And I’m profoundly admiring of all kinds of athletes’ discipline and body development. Make no mistake, these dancers are world-class athletes. It was a privilege to observe them….and try in my remedial way to mimic them.

I actually felt strong withdrawal pains the week following my elimination. Yes, I wanted to be out there to compete. Wanted to work hard and prove I could markedly improve. Wanted to have my chance, once Billy Dee bowed out. But the withdrawal pains, in keeping with what I treasured about my time on the show, were due to missing the zealous sessions with Henry. I miss the rehearsals, the total dedication, the fanaticism.

This for me was akin to any of you getting to leave your work, your families, for a month and give over to a passion of yours….with a world-class teacher all your own. It might be chess….or golf….or oil painting. I got to dive full throttle into the world of dance with one very talented, noble, well-spoken Henry Byalikov. It was a magnificent month. One I shall never forget.

So much has come my way since achieving my lifelong Dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida last Labor Day. I have signed a major book deal. I’ve met President Obama, Oprah, and many others I sincerely admire. I spread my word of living an inspired, gutsy, bold life in speaking engagements all over the world. So, at first blush, competing on DWTS would seem a frivolous blip on the radar screen for me. But, au contraire, it was yet another chance for me to live out loud my philosophy of tackling every challenge with no room for regrets. I didn’t “win” on DWTS, but I lived out loud. No regrets.

Thank you, Henry. I cherish our time together and all you taught me.












DWTS: Ego Bruised But Not Broken

The first week Fox Trot for @HenryByalikov and me was filled with pride. I may not bring the stuff of Olympic ice dancers but we worked our butts off and I was thrilled to pull off a proper Fox Trot, something entirely alien to me just one week prior.

Matter of fact, was proud of ALL the contestants, to watch them produce art and beauty and fun and put their best out there in front of a 20-million strong audience.

Every single one of the pro dancers (along obviously with my wonderful, talented, supportive, gracious Henry)have bent over backwards to give some guidance to me and all the rest of us competing. Max Chmerkovskiy, reputed bad boy, has especially extended a caring warmth to me.

(I love when Max and Henry chat in Russian….Henry from Australia but both parents Russian…they call me “Dianaishka”… sounds very sexy indeed!)

Cheryl Burke and the other female pros have also reached out to give all kinds of tips and reassurances. (I’ve put it out there that, if I am still in the competition by the time they switch partners for one week, I would love to do a dance with Cheryl). And don’t get me wrong. I ADORE my Henry….just saying…

Perhaps it gets cutthroat later in the season, when the MirrorBall Trophy is on the line but at this early-going stage, all 12 of us competitors are very supportive of each other. No matter the difference in our range of talents, everybody checks in with each other, asks how the particular dance of the week is going, shares what they’re experiencing. Charlie White and Meryl Davis, clearly superlative on the floor, are extremely giving. Amy Purdee is a doll, her disability a total non-issue. Candace Cameron Bure is a born mom, takes care of all of our feelings. And Henry and I have had some fun practice sessions with NeNe Leakes and her partner Tony Dovolani, the jokster of the pros.

Henry putting me through the paces of the Cha Cha Cha, our dance for Week Two, and I’m loving the rhythm. Much more relatable, for me, than was The Fox Trot. I took an ego beating that first night. Worked so darn hard on that Fox Trot and wound up near the bottom of the leader board. But what a great rationalization to feel you’ve got absolutely nowhere to go but up…

As I said that night….and we’ve all learned this the hard way… “It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.”

Honestly, as much as I feel I’ve known this show, DWTS is a vastly more intense experience than I imagined. The dance work itself, at least for me, is mentally engrossing. Every move Henry deftly shows me, articulates for me (he used the image of cracking an egg, for example, in one area of the Fox Trot….two quick, staccato steps, like the quick crack of the egg shell, and then a long ooze of the leg and body, like the liquid oozing from the egg), takes my full attention. And then there are literally dozens of those details to take in…all in a very short amount of time….and then to be performed LIVE….OMG!!!

I’m overjoyed to be part of it. I am in a constant state of delight to be so close so quickly to my new friend Henry Byalikov. We went together to Cirque du Soleil TOTEM one night, both to hang out away from the studio and for inspiration from those magical performers. And now I must return to the Cha Cha Cha….next Monday’s show time is coming at me rather quickly…cha cha cha…









St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, an American National Treasure


St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis is an American national treasure.

I spoke to the general population of employees there just a few days ago and went for a tour of the facility. I was in tears a number of times, with inspiration, not sadness.

You must know more about this magical and important hospital. (Follow them on Twitter@StJude and on facebook

Back in the 1950’s, actor Danny Thomas wasn’t making it. He was in Detroit, out of money, out of hope. He went to church and prayed to St. Jude, the Saint of Lost Causes, as his last desperate plea before giving up his dream. The very next day, Hollywood called and he went on to an illustrious career, especially the hit tv show Make Room for Daddy. And Danny Thomas vowed if he ever had the means he would do something for those considered “lost causes”. Well, by 1962, he had funded the impressive St. Jude Hospital in Memphis.

The hospital has grown in good works and worldwide reputation now, the key statistic being that they receive 60,000 applications yearly from doctors and research scientists all around the world who want to do their work at St Jude. Neuro-oncologists such as Dr. Zsila Sadighi, pictured with me here, are the very top of their fields and feel the work they do for the children who enter St. Jude is profound….we agree.

No child is ever turned away from St. Jude on financial considerations. Some are there short-term, about a month. Some medium term, a year or under. Some of these children never leave the hospital. Danny’s great vision is carried on now by his daughter, actor @MarloThomas, who helps the hospital raise on average $2 million a day. But they of course need constant funding to raise the bar of their care and research even higher.

I left Memphis, my heart brimming with admiration for Danny Thomas and the vision he brought to life. You simply must know about St. Jude. As I say, the place is nothing short of one of our national treasures.






Dancing With the Stars

Some behind-the-scenes snapshots from this morning’s Good Morning America announcement of this seasons’s cast of DancingWithTheStars (#DWTS). My partner, I am thrilled to announce, is the stunningly beautiful dancer and extremely capable teacher, Australian 28-year-old Henry Byalikov. (Stylish, too, I might add.)

The cast ranges from recent ice dancing gold medalists Charlie White and Meryl Davis to smart funny man Drew Carey. Drew said to me this morning: “Who wouldn’t want to do this show?”

You’re preaching to choir here, Drew. Since Day One, nine years ago, I’ve wanted to do DWTS. Dance is the expression of joy and freedom that the human race has enjoyed from the beginning of time. I am thrilled to think Henry is going to have me moving at least somewhat fluidly, in some facsimile of magical dances, such as the Fox Trot, which by the way is our first assigned dance for the first competition on ABC March 17.

The other dance pros, men and women (Mark Ballas in bow tie here)are all available and helpful to each of us novices 24/7.

Henry and I are locked in a rehearsal studio four hours a day (we would put more time in but at least for these first two weeks, all of us have been sworn to do only four hours daily). Besides my own obvious background in swimming, I’ve covered and followed sports my entire life and I can tell you the rigors and complicated nuances of the Fox Trot are daunting, to understate it. Every muscle of the body is in flexion, while trying to glide and bend and hop, all in perfect unison with your partner.

I’m in this competition for the purity of the dance itself. Dancing has always been an integral part of my life and now I have a chance to immerse myself hours every day with a world-class partner. What joy….what a challenge.

Stay tuned…. reports to come throughout the journey….






48 Tough Hours

Long distance swimmer Diana Nyad undertakes her 48 hour “Swim for Relief” to help victims of Hurricane Sandy in Herald Square, New York October 9, 2013. Insider Images/Andrew Kelly (UNITED STATES)

By all accounts, the NYADSwimforRelief event center-stage NYC last Tues-Thurs was a smash success.

That second night, throwing in a few laps just easy backstroke kicking for some relief, I would look up to see the Empire State Building towering into the clouds. That was the ultimate metaphor of how grand the experience was for all who participated, in the pool and out.

From early conception just post Hurricane Sandy last November to fantastic innovations in installing the Myrtha pool in Herald Square, right in front of Macy’s, last Monday night, I was so darn proud to see months of hustle and planning by dozens of intelligent people culminate in a whopping, first-class extravaganza.

Myrtha, the Olympic pool designers, arrived on site on Sunday night, Oct. 6. Their trucks started crating in the plates of the stainless steel pool and their welders started putting the structure together. They deserve a gold medal for making this event pool so beautiful, work so perfectly.

Stuart Weissman Productions, far and away top echelon of producing events in NYC public spaces, built the decks, the bleachers, the safety rails, installed the 22-foot plasma screen for the deck, all kinds of welcome and changing tents, and then took fire hydrant water from 48 to 83 degrees for the start.

My managers, 15 Minutes Inc, along with our stupendous sponsor, Procter & Gamble (specifically their brands that have earned a long-standing reputation in the work of disaster relief….Duracell, TIDE, and Secret) were impressive in all their creative efforts, especially in making sure there was a guest swimmer in the lane next to me the entire 48 hours!

And it was the people, from every vantage point, who made the event soar.

The guest swimmers ranged from Richard Simmons to Olympic champs such as Ryan Lochte to Twilight star Nikki Reed to Today host Natalie Morales to a 3-year-old named Harrison, to a canine Sandy survivor named Roscoe to Teams of NYPD and Air Force and NY Fire Dept buff bodies to a dozen disabled individuals who put their hearts into a couple of laps each and made everybody cry to many random and diverse individuals…..all of whom wanted sincerely to help the cause of Sandy relief….and many of whom evidently wanted to swim next to me, after the “Never Give Up” message I carried with me all the way across from Cuba to Florida Labor Day weekend.

I was told by our Ops Chiefs Mark Sollinger and John Berry that many of these swimmers who gamely joined me in the next lane cried when they exited the water. It was evidently an emotional moment, to swim with me.

Well, it was all quite emotional for me, too. I was more Ambassador to the cause, than pure athlete, on this one.

I stopped to meet and greet and hear a quick story from every single swimmer…..and then again stopped to hug every single one when they finished their minutes alongside me. That was perhaps draining but it was the right thing to do.

We had declared from the start that this was at the same time a display of endurance, swimming for 48 hours, in honor of the endurance shown by the Sandy victims a year past the devastating wreckage of the storm……but it was above all a fundraiser, a community gathering.

Wonderfully vocal and enthusiastic crowds filled our 200-seat bleachers and lined up on the other side of the pool the entire 48 hours, even deep into the chilly evenings. They cheered, they chanted both my name and my phrase “Find A Way” and, especially those last couple of hours, they were strong in their voices of appreciation.

I had intentions of not standing on the bottom of the pool. But it became clear that the spectators deserved a connection. I occasionally went to the middle of the pool, stood up and “embraced” them with thank you’s of waves and a few words.

Again, it was the right thing to do.

Swimming long hours in a flat, fresh water pool can never present the duress of swimming two-plus days in the ocean. But I will tell you that these 48 hours were tough.

One, I probably was not 100% recovered from the Cuba Swim. That was only 5 weeks prior and I probably needed two full months for all the tissue and system to be back to full strength.

Two, although Myrtha heated the pool from a start of 83 to temps over 90 by the end, the breezy air, wind chill down around 40 degrees at night, arms lifting above water every second, head exposed, I think threw me into early hypothermia. That not only weakened me physically but took my brain down, too.

Thursday early morning hours were a strain of hallucinations and an inability to understand where I was, what I was doing.

Bonnie Stoll, my Head Handler, and her Team of Pauline, Allison and Jesse worked all through those morning hours to keep me awake and urge me to press on.

Bonnie had an idea. She remembered from the second night of the Cuba swim, when I was having similar mental problems, Niko the shark diver would swim in front of me for a bit, holding a neon green light and coax me to swim toward him. Well, Bonnie asked our friend from California Jacki Pennoyer, who had flown in to swim with me during the first night, to get her suit on.

For THREE hours, from about 1 to 4 am, Jacki swam a steady backstroke in my same lane, right in front of me. Jacki became my beacon. I became more alert in having the goal of keeping her in my sites, stroking steadily in her wake. Thank you, Jacki. Thank you, Bonnie….Pauline, Allison and Jesse. Truth is these 48 hours were much more grueling than I had anticipated. Four days later I am still quite low in vitality.

But what a meaningful experience, to focus on these thousands of innocent people who lost their homes to Sandy. A minimum 25,000 of them are still not back in their homes….or never will be.

On Friday, the day after the event, two of the firemen who swam with me, took Bonnie and me on a tour of a couple of the areas hit hardest. Breezy Point, for example. We heard the stories of the black-top buckling with the tidal surge. People frightened and stranded….and then hauled away, not to return for many months, if ever.

It’s true that we live in a world of information overload these days. Tragedies come and go. We take notice for a few days. We tune in to the details and perhaps write whatever check to Relief we can afford. But literally a week later we’re on.

Sandy hit a year ago. This Swim in Herald Square is the kick-off to a month-long effort to raise funds for at least some slight relief to these victims’ hardship.

We finished the 48 hours with about $105,000 in our Americares Relief coffers. OK, I am grateful to all who have donated, believe me.

But now we press hard for the rest of October, until the true anniversary of the storm.

I am honored to announce that A&E Networks/Lifetime will kick off our October drive with a generous donation of $10,000. Let’s show these Sandy survivors, a year later, that we have not forgotten what they have suffered.

Donate, please.


Tomorrow morning, 8:40 EST, I will begin a 48-hour swim to benefit Hurricane Sandy victims in the NY/NJ area a year after that storm changed thousands of lives in a matter of few violent, terrifying minutes.

Thousands of good people are still homeless. Thousands more have not received government assistance. Insurance agents are arguing with flood damage companies.

I’m from NYC. Was home in the city last year right after Sandy tore through. I happened to meet Mayor Bloomberg’s chief legal counsel, Carol Robles Roman, and we got talking about some small way I might help the victims of the storm.

A month later I called Carol: “What if we built a pool, installed it in the heart of the city…..what if I swam for 48 continuous hours in one lane and in the next lane all kinds of people kept me company for a few minutes each….what if in the end we raised a big fat number of dollars for the Sandy victims still struggling a year later?”

That’s where we started.

And tomorrow morning, the pool will be ready….I’ll be ready….my Team will be in place…and guests have signed up to swim next to me ALL 48 HOURS…including a dog named Roscoe, that survived the storm by virtue of swimming to his own rescue.

Yes, Olympian Ryan Lochte and fitness hero Richard Simmons and NY FireFighters and Sandy Victims and dozens of others….including Roscoe…..are going to swim with me to make our statement loud and clear:

Bonnie and the Xtreme Dream Team are here deckside, too!

The pool, a wild, first-class engineering feat unto itself, started arriving in pieces last night. A crew from the famous Olympic pool company Myrtha began welding and aligning pipes to City water systems.

A company well versed in producing events in New York’s open spaces, Stuart Weissman Productions, has been working tirelessly with Myrtha and with my personal Team, for months.

They will work ‘round the clock until 8:40am tomorrow (Tues) when Good Morning America comes to the deck to start us off, live on their air.

Procter and Gamble’s brands, known for their huge contribution to disaster relief, have underwritten the entire project. Duracell batteries are on site, the same way they showed up when Sandy first hit, giving away hundreds of thousands of batteries, charging cell phones for people many days without electricity. TIDE is behind us here, the same way they rush into disaster sites and set up their banks of dozens of washers to help people get back on their feet.

We are so very proud to announce that EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR donated to will go directly (via Americares) to individual Sandy victims, all because P&G has made sure we don’t need your dollars to produce the event. It’s taken care of.

I finished the Cuba Swim exactly five weeks ago today. Just enough time to recuperate, gain all my strength back. I’m feeling strong, motivated, and ready to step up for my fellow New Yorkers and New Jersey cousins who still need us.

This is not an athletic record of any kind. Even though 48 hours non-stop swimming is always a test of endurance and focus, the point here is community spirit and important fund-raising for people in need. I will lean across the lane line often to hug someone who has just swum with me for 15 minutes. I may have to get out for the occasional toilet break.

Unlike the ocean where we respect rules of the sport to the letter and I never receive any flotation or forward progress aid, where I would never touch the boat, hang onto the boat, or certainly get out onto the boat, there are no rules for these 48 hours.

I will tread water for my food & drink stops, rather than casually stand on the bottom of the shallow pool, in some sort of solidarity with the Sandy victims and their tough times. Other than that, we want our guest swimmers to enjoy the experience….as well as all the folks who stroll by and come up onto the deck to be part of it with us.

(Timothy Wheeler’s documentary on my 4-year Cuba Swim journey will present a special screening of the film, right on the deck, both the nights I’m swimming. Tues, Oct 8, and again Wed, Oct 9, both evenings at 8pm.

If you’re in the NY area, come out at any time day or night…and come catch the film in the unique setting of the film’s protagonist swimming right under the screen!!!)

Five weeks ago, I was awash with a flood of emotions, in finally completing the Dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida.

Last night I stood in Herald Square, already feeling the magic that’s going to come with swimming for two days under the shadow of the Empire State Building….and the power that’s going to come with an entire city joining in, once again, to help our fallen fellow citizens.

Come be part of it…

The Oprah Experience

2Q==  2Q==  Z

The Mantra That Kept Diana Nyad Swimming

The interior, emotional aftermath of my swim from Cuba to Florida is what stands out, what means something significant to my life.

But of all the more superficial moments of recognition I have humbly received since that Labor Day walk up onto the sands of Key West five weeks ago, two stand out glaringly. One is an invitation to the White House to meet President Obama. The other is an invitation to sit down and be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey.

Or, frankly, is the order of those two honors the other way around?

Like millions of you, I have long respected Oprah. It’s not even that I was a big fan of her daily talk show. I admit I wasn’t a regular viewer. But to witness one individual bring reading back to middle America, to stand up for women mired in such dire straits issues as domestic violence, to lead our entire population in so many areas of human rights……yes, indeed, I have been on the Oprah respect band wagon all the way along.

So, in case you don’t already follow, Oprah does an inspiring hour-long interview every Sunday morning on her OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) called Super Soul Sunday. She sits with a variety of individuals, all living life out loud, living lives with meaning.

I was invited. We did the interview last week. Part One aired this Sunday. Part Two is slated for next Sunday, Oct. 13.

The flat-out truth is that, at the end of 90 minutes, I wouldn’t have cared if the cameras had not rolled. This is the finest interviewer working today. No diva here.

This is a woman enraptured in the moment, engaged in every syllable. There is no wandering mind, no eye slipping over to the teleprompter. She lets you know that you are two equals, curious about the ways of the human spirit, thirsty to discover….together….some new insight as to how to better live these cherished lives of ours.

The flat-out truth is that, at the end of 90 minutes, I wouldn’t have cared if the cameras had not rolled. This is the finest interviewer working today. No diva here.

This is a woman enraptured in the moment, engaged in every syllable. There is no wandering mind, no eye slipping over to the teleprompter. She lets you know that you are two equals, curious about the ways of the human spirit, thirsty to discover….together….some new insight as to how to better live these cherished lives of ours.

You feel a bit of an idiot complimenting Oprah. You don’t want to fawn. For instance, I wanted to praise her for her work in The Butler. How could a public icon this renowned make us the film viewers completely forget that she is OPRAH as she plays out the dutiful housefrau of the White House butler over several generations? Her role in that film is nothing short of astounding. But, as I say, I felt somewhat awkward dishing out my own review of her performance.

But I have no problem declaring today, after both sitting with Oprah for those 90 minutes and now having seen Part One of our interview, that the Oprah experience was one of the grandest of my life. As is her habit on the show, she walked down the hall to greet me in my dressing room and then we walked arm and arm together to the set. No ego, no false humor. This woman is as real as it gets.

I have had the privilege of being interviewed by most of the greats over the past 40 or so years. I always thought of Johnny Carson as the class standard, the most in-the-moment of them all. But, with all due respect and fond memories of Johnny, Oprah is the zenith.

You enter a magical world of calm intensity in her presence. There is nothing else. Nobody else. There is no pretending. No impressing. She cried at some of my stories. She was intent on soaking up everything I was feeling. We traveled together for those 90 minutes and the journey was bountiful.

It wasn’t about Social Media power. Wasn’t about audience reach. It was about life. As is the show, Super Soul Sunday, about life.  And what a life we’re living. ALL OF US.

See Part 1 of the interview in it’s entirety at

Cuba: 3 Weeks Later

It’s been three weeks since those dazed, magical steps onto Smathers Beach in Key West on Labor Day.

So many times I had pictured that walk. So many times I conjured the Florida beach, the palm trees, to get me through the hundreds of long, grueling training swims. Four times, in the previous attempts at the crossing from Cuba to Florida—be it otherworldly Box Jellyfish stings or a screeching Easterly Gulf Stream or roiling eddies spinning our boats’ compasses in full circles or sustained sudden summer storms with life-threatening lightning and 45-mph winds—we were forced to abandon the beautiful Dream.

That disappointment was crushing, those four times, being hauled onto the boat for the interminable boat ride back to Key West, the Team proud of our valiant efforts yet crushed with me, for me.

It was such a colossal push of energy and belief. Spanning back 35 years to the first try, 1978, but especially these past four years. From August, 2009, to Labor Day, 2013, there was nothing but Cuba. Every day, every hour, the focus was laser sharp. No stone unturned.

If it was an 18-hour swim, it was never 17 hours, 57 minutes. It was 18. Along with the training, the organization of an expedition this size, 45 people out into the wilderness that is the unpredictable and dangerous stretch between Cuba and Florida, is monumental.

Hillary Clinton herself was on our Team, making the first calls to get our fleet and all our gear into Havana.

Frankly, my deep contentment today is more from having the push at long, long last over, than it is from having actually made it.

I walk around my house, so unfamiliar with the relief of not living with the unrelenting drive.

There was never a night going to bed these past four years, never a meal, never waking moment, without the vision of that Other Shore, without the internal pressure of all the details that needed to be perfect to make it happen.

Every expedition out in Grand Mother Nature brings with it a steep learning curve. On every crossing, we learned more about the Box Jellyfish behaviors and possible protection. We learned more about the powerful and tricky eddies that swirl on the edges of the Gulf Stream….and the educated guesses of our Meteorology Team. Our entire Team is intelligent and dedicated…and persistent. They deserved this successful crossing. They worked for it. They earned it.

I am perhaps more proud of myself…and my Team…for not giving up, when doing so would have been at several junctures the advisable and even honorable step to take, than for finally making it all the way across.

I said to the five closest people in my life, four years ago, that it was likely that nobody in the world would be on the beach when I finished this swim except these five. Cuba was never for me, in these current times, about athletic endurance records, although that aspect is undeniable. It was about turning 60, determined to live a bold, fearless life. No regrets. Full commitment. Reaching for the stars, even if failure were the outcome.

That Henry David Thoreau quote expresses it sublimely:

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.

Yes, life has been a whirlwind these three weeks. I have spent a few hours in Oprah’s interview chair. President Obama has written me. The response to our achievement has come from all over the world and it has been nothing short of resplendent.

But I am 64 now, too old for momentary “fame” to change me. My values are set and they’re solid. I turn to my proven, old, great friends and we are who we’ve always been, simply there for each other, every day, in every way.

The contentment for me today does not come from “what I am getting”, to paraphrase Thoreau. I am profoundly happy to in fact be this person who is bold, who is fearless, who has no regrets, no matter how many failures piled up on the way to the final, dazed, magical moment on that beach.

My Teammates who formed a wall for me there, enforcing the sport’s rules that the swimmer is not touched until completely beyond the sea….the some two thousand people who greeted me there, many of them tears streaming down their cheeks….didn’t so much witness the end of a phenomenal athletic pursuit. They witnessed a person carrying a life-journey message they need for their own lives. We all have dreams. We all suffer heartache. We all need to somehow find the courage, the endurance, to FIND A WAY to our respective, individual Other Shores.

With Bonnie’s help, with help from my entire Team, I FOUND MY WAY, although it was a long, tough road, from Cuba to Florida.

Today, the pride, the honor, to be who I am, not what I achieved, courses through my veins. Oh, glory days.

Independent Observer Report: Roger McVeigh

Nyad Swim
Observer’s Report
Submitted by Roger McVeigh
Date Submitted: September 12, 2013

Diana Nyad

Pilot/Operations Chief:
John Berry

Navigation Chief:
John Bartlett

Date and Location of Swim:

Start Time: Saturday, August 31, 2013 at approximately 9 am est (8:58 am) from seawall near ocean entrance to Marina Hemingway (gps coordinates recorded by McVeigh from Voyager’s captains mounted gps was North 23 degrees 5.327 and West 8 degrees 30.604)

Currents were very light and seas calm at start and water temperature was 84 degrees (per thermometer placed in water near handlers)

Finish Time: Monday, September 2, 2013 just before 2 pm est at Smather’s Beach Key West, FL

Swim Time: 52 hours, 54 minutes, and 18.6 seconds (recorded both on iPhone stop watch held by Hinkle and backed up by McVeigh’s timex ironman style watch)

Thursday/Friday, August 29/30, 2013

After arriving at about 5 pm, we departed for Havana from Oceanside Marina in Key West at 7:45 pm Thursday, August 29, 2013, expecting it to take about 12 to 14 hours to make the crossing. Janet Hinkle and I were assigned to the support boat “Dreams Come True” along with 3 captains and 4 individuals on the Social Media Team. At 12:36 pm on Friday, August 30, 2013, we had reached the outermost buoy of the channel entrance into Customs and Marina Hemingway and radioed in announcing our arrival. We were instructed to continue to Buoy #7 and tie up at the dock. At 12:50 pm we were greeted by customs officials at the dock. We were instructed to stay on board while we cleared customs. After several hours of waiting and having about 3 to 6 different officials board our vessel, we cleared customs at 2:48 pm. We were instructed to continue down the channel to Marina Hemingway where a press conference was scheduled for 4 pm, immediately followed by a team meeting at 5 pm. We disembarked at 3:28 pm, just shy of 24 hours since we boarded the boat in Key West.

At 5:05 pm, the press conference ended and seemed to go well. Diana was excellent as usual. She spoke mostly in Spanish with a translator there to help her with certain words.

At 5:13 pm, team meeting began. Diana kicked off the meeting indicating that this is not a solo sport, but this swim is a team effort. She indicated the swim could take 3 days and 3 nights. John Bartlett spoke briefly about the great weather and current conditions forecasted and indicated we would be travelling sideways and that the currents have a little northern direction rather than the normal eastern push.
After the meeting concluded, we were instructed by Chief of Operations, John Berry, that the boats should be ready to head out at 6 am sharp. We were also told that the adjacent hotel/resort had several rooms available ($68 per single and $100 per double with food and beverages included) if anyone wanted to pay their own way and sleep in a bed instead of on the boat. I took the opportunity to check into a room (and take a shower) as it had been difficult to sleep in the last 24 hours during the boat ride across. Several groups decided to travel by taxi into Havana (about a 30 min ride) while I elected to stay put with several others, eat at the hotel and get a good night’s rest before a 4:30 am wake up. Did have the opportunity to spend a little time with John Berry, D Brady, John Bartlett, and Bonnie Stoll getting a tour of Voyager and where it would be best for me to stand or sit.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

We boarded and arrived with our sister boats at Customs at about 6 am. They cleared us for departure fairly quickly, but we had to wait for our flares to be returned. Apparently, there was some confusion with respect to Diana and Bonnie’s visas because they were not on board. After that was cleared up we shoved off at 7:55 am; I took the first observer shift, so I quickly moved from “Dreams Come True” to “Voyager” before we left shoved off from customs.
After clearing Cuba customs and immigration at 7:55 am, McVeigh took first observer shift by boarding Voyager, the primary escort boat, and travelling to swim start

McVeigh and Hinkle started with a 3 hour shift plan, which was revised to longer shifts by mutual agreement

Actual Observer Shifts were modified as necessary along the way with 11 total shifts allowing one of the two observers to ride on Voyager watching the swim for the entire duration (either Hinkle or McVeigh were on Voyager during the duration of the trip). Approximate shift times were as follows:

Shift 1: McVeigh Saturday, August 31, 2013 9 am to 12 noon
Shift 2: Hinkle Saturday, August 31, 2013 12 noon to 3 pm
Shift 3: McVeigh Saturday, August 31, 2013 3 pm to 6 pm
Shift 4: Hinkle Saturday, August 31, 2013 6 pm to 9 pm

Observers decided to adjust shifts to 5 hours beginning with Shift 5 to allow observers more time to sleep/rest

Shift 5: McVeigh Saturday, August 31, 2013 9 pm to 2 am
Shift 6: Hinkle Sunday, September 1, 2013 2 am to 7 am
Shift 7: McVeigh Sunday, September 1, 2013 7 am to 12 noon
Shift 8: Hinkle Sunday, September 1, 2013 12 noon to 5pm
Shift 9: McVeigh Sunday, September 1, 2013 5 pm to 11 pm

Shift 9/10 times adjusted to accommodate safety decision to limit dinghy activity during night; shift time for Shift 9 actually adjusted because of squall protocol that was triggered right before 11 pm shift change; McVeigh’s shift 9 time actually didn’t end until approximately 1:26 am Monday, September 2, 2013, after storms had cleared and it was safe to transport observers in dinghy

Shift 10: Hinkle Sunday, September 1, 2013 11 pm to 7 am
Shift 11: McVeigh Monday, September 2, 2013 7 am to finish

Shift 1 (McVeigh):
Gps at start North 23 degrees 5.327 West 8 degrees 30.604
I quickly learned how to pull gps data from gps instrument mounted in front of captain’s cockpit, although I was told that this was not quite as accurate as gps unit used by John Bartlett

8:10 am Dawn B getting on dinghy to come watch Voyager crew put out the swim rails which held the streamer underwater Diana used for swim direction

Bartlett indicated water conditions are very favorable at this time. Normal west to east gulf stream current can reverse itself closer to shore, but Bartlett just measured this potential counter current and said it was extremely light

2 gps trackers on board to help relay our position to Diana’s website

8:40 am The crew put out the swim boom; we can now see a small gathering of media on shore along the seawall at the mouth of the channel. About 15 to 20 individuals appear to have gathered and an American flag appears.

Note that no white lights will be allowed on Voyager at night as ,apparently, they could potentially attract the dangerous box jellyfish and it can also impair good night vision. Only dull red or amber lights are allowed on board, which made it challenging to write and record notes at night

8:54 am Now a Cuban flag is also flying and the crowd on shore erupts in cheers Don M and Darlene are the first kayakers on duty for the kayak escort

Dawn B taking picture from a dinghy close to the start jumping off point 8:58:46 am Diana is in the water, swimming now, water is flat calm

Bonnie, chief handler rode on a jet ski with some local spectators and was ferried over to Voyager

9:04 am she is swimming at 56 strokes per minute, a little more than normal according to Bartlett, but probably because of adrenalin

First water break will be at 45 minutes

Note that I reference hydration breaks and feedings throughout my notes on a random basis, but not with the intention of logging all hydration breaks and feedings

We were told that the Commodore from Marina Hemingway gave Diana and Bonnie a ride to start point

Diana wearing a 2 color royal blue and black suit with a royal blue swim cap

She appears to be swimming strong, kayakers in good position, and shark diver goes in the water with fins and snorkel about 5 yards behind Diana

Starting to feel a little eastern breeze as we move farther from land

Captain is instructed to follow a compass heading of 345, quickly adjusted to 340

9:25 am. Diana swimming strong, about 55 strokes per minute and about 1.9 mph; initial food/hydration breaks would be set at 45 minutes

Very little current slight wind from the east

Noted the boat was dragging a large yellow funnel on port side, about 30″ in diameter, apparently to allow the boat to maintain a slow enough speed

Bartlett indicates that when he gives me readings, it will generally be in mph (speed) and statutory miles (distance)

Dr Angel Y, jellyfish expert came aboard at Bonnie’s request; Bonnie suggested that Angel stay on board for first two hours of the swim in case of any jellyfish sightings

First drink/hydration stop in about 5 minutes at 9:45 am

Protocol would be for kayakers to have one bottle of water, so every other stop would be water from kayakers, then she would come to side of boat for every other feeding/hydration break

Shark diver in the water on regular scouting mission Darlene told Diana that she looks like poetry in motion

9:48 am John Berry showed me how to access an ipad that had water depths, it looks like a reading of 350 which is apparently in fathoms so it would be about 2100 feet

Gps North 23 degrees 6.783 West 82 degrees 30.695

Water still appears flat calm, Diana seems to be kicking stronger, Dr. Angel is passing time by cross stitching

10:04 am she is now swimming at 53 strokes per minute

Dr. Angel just spent about 60 seconds in the water looking for jellyfish, nothing seen, water was very clear

10:18 am Diana stopped for a brief minute to adjust her goggles and nose clip

10:21 am Shark diver in the water

10:24 am Winds from the east/northeast at 5 mph according to Bartlett’s hand held wind gauge

One blow of the whistle means time for feeding, handlers wear rubber gloves for feeding

Kayakers did first rotation, two kayakers on duty at a time with one relieved every 1.5 hours, each kayak shift was 3 hours

Pauline made Diana a peanut butter sandwich

Liquids taken both in a water bottle, some contain water and some contain a brown mixture that includes a sports drink and other ingredients

Other liquids taken in via bladder from a camelback 5

A little Vaseline or other type of lubricant applied under her arms and around her neck for chafing, careful that none gets on her goggles

She also took in 2 pieces of Clif Shot Bloks 10:47 am 55 strokes per minute

11:02 am winds still light from the east (7 mph), she is swimming strong, heading is now 330 on the compass, approximately 3.45 miles from starting point

Slight white capping ahead, also a slight change in water color, could mean a stronger current 11:20 am Diana took a bottle of water from kayaker Buco, she drank about 3⁄4 of bottle

Note to social media team, shark divers have a camera to take pictures and Don, kayaker has go pro camera mounted on his cap

11:26 am gps coordinates North 23 degrees 8.925 and West 82 degrees 31.175, water temperature 86 degrees

11:32 am water depth at 655 (feet or fathoms?), 86 degrees water temperature

11:42 am she is now swimming about 52 strokes per minute, looks like initial adrenalin is wearing off

Shift relief arrives

Shift 2 (Hinkle)

Shift 3 (McVeigh):
Back for 3 pm to 6 pm shift

Depth of 818 feet (fathoms) at 3:02 pm

3:03 pm gps coordinates North 23 degrees 12.938 West 82 degrees 31.409, water temperature at 86 degrees, swimming at 53 strokes per minute, course heading 320, wind speed at 8.6 mph east/northeast

3:11 pm winds out of the east/northeast at 7.5 knots or 8.6 mph 3:15 pm 5 minute whistle warning to next feeding

3:20 pm feeding, banana with peanut butter, strawberry colored can drink, liquid from camelback bladder, Vaseline on the lips, 2 pieces of Clif Shot Bloks, compass heading is 320

3:51 pm travelling at 1.4 mph now, and 9.3 statutory miles off starting point, gps North 23 degrees 13.541 West 82 degrees 31.199, whistle for water break

4:52 pm winds lightened up a bit at 6.5 knots

4:53 pm gps North 23 degrees 13.522 West 82 degrees 31.199

5:14 pm looks like weather moving in from the South should be here in about 15 minutes

Preparing for potential storm/squall protocol

5:24 pm gps coordinates North 23 degrees 15.136 West 82 degrees 30.745, weather approaching from south, but never reached us, though squall protocol was discussed

5:33 pm diver going in water

5:38 pm Diana swimming at about 50 strokes per minute. Compass heading is now 320

5:52 pm Diana stopping for hydration, Diana says she is starting to get minor stings every couple of seconds from no-seeum jellyfish, handlers say she can put on suit at anytime, she says she will wait a few minutes

Shift ends with 6 pm arrival of Janet

Shift 4 (Hinkle)

Shift 5 (McVeigh):
Wow, its dark and 9 pm shift has started, seems pretty dicey getting in and out of the dinghy out on the dark ocean

Night swimming is tough

Very easy for Diana to drift away from boat, kayakers have a tough job keeping her close to Voyager

Winds shifted from southeast, makes it hard for the boat to stay with her with winds pushing

Compass heading is 300

Large lightning strike to the northeast, seems to be about 10 miles away

9:33 pm gps coordinates North 23 degrees 17.924 West 82 degrees 29.356, current heading is 300, stroke count has dropped to 46 strokes per minutes, hard to swim in suit

10:07 pm gps North 23 degrees 20.184 West 82 degrees 28.179 10:22 pm feeding at side of boat, very quick and efficient

10:55 pm gps coordinates North 23 degrees 20.848 West 82 degrees 27.606, water temperature 86 degrees, winds from the south, 2 to 3 feet swells, stroke count down to 45 strokes per minute

11:01 pm 5 minute whistle till hydration stop Staying on 300 compass heading

11:32 pm stroke count is 49, gps is North 23 degrees 21.536 West 82 degrees 27.212 11:51 stop for feeding/hydration

Diana stops to ask whether Candace and the social media team is paying attention

12 midnight gps coordinates North 23 degrees 21.66 West 82 degrees 26.91, currently have gone 19.32 statutory miles (about 16.8 nautical miles) in about 15 hours at cumulative speed of 1.29 mph, seems as if current is turning slightly north going with us

12:22 am swimming at 48 strokes per minute

12:24 am water break, everything is good, going to 30 minute hydration breaks till daylight, now 43 strokes per minute, though it is hard to count in the dark

Relieved by Janet at 1:51 am

Shift 6 (Hinkle)

Shift 7 (McVeigh):
Shift started at 6:51 am

She has upset stomach, swells are 3 to 4 feet, course change to 290 compass heading, the jf mask is not positioned correctly and seems to be hurting her

Shark divers wearing shark shields that repel sharks, but need to be recharged Angel leaving boat along with shark diver team

Changing course to 290 compass heading

6:30 am gps position North 23 degrees 30.9 West 82 degrees 18.2, 2.5 knot current, 21.5 hours in, covered 33.23 statutory miles at cumulative average speed of 1.56 mph, 85 degrees water temperature, Diana feeling great, now at 46 strokes per minute

Changing course to 280 heading

7:33 am removing suit and mask, doctor’s pulse reading was 66, eating pasta now, holding down food feeling great, stroke count is 50 strokes per minute, course change by 10 degrees to 270 degrees

Lights and streamer were coming apart, used feeding stop to tape them back together, now on a 45 minute break schedule

7:40 am she is swimming again

Depth is 5400 feet and she is swimming at 50 strokes per minute

She is drinking a combination of liquids including Jamba Juice?, coca cola and water

She also has a liquid concoction that includes hammer sustained energy, ginger, honey and electrolytes

Course change 10 degrees to 270 compass heading

8:26 am quick bite to eat

8:33 am everything is going well, next stop in 30 minutes at 24 hours, swimming at 53 strokes per minute

8:39 am gps coordinates North 23 degrees 34.759 West 82 degrees 14.532, 4.5 knot wind from southeast, boat pointed west, but travelling in a northeast direction, water temperature at 85 degrees, 2 to 4 foot swells

8:46 am swimming at 53 strokes per minute, 2 to 4 foot swells, apparently caused by current moving across undulation on the bottom

8:58 am in 20 minutes all boats are going to rally a cheer

Course is now 270, gps North 23 degrees 35.239 West 82 degrees 14.109

Winds at 4 to 8 knots out of south/southeast, seas are now less than 1 foot

She is in good spirits, but has lots of chafing, enjoyed eating eggs and drinking coca cola

9:27 am her bicep muscles are burning, heading still at 270 degrees essentially due west, gps coordinates North 23 degrees 35.968 West 82 degrees 13.436, 51 strokes per minute

9:30 am changed heading 10 degrees to 260

9 am reading was we have travelled 38.18 statutory miles at average speed of 1.6 mph 51 strokes per minute at 9:40 am

Bruce was captain from 6 am till about 9:44 am on Voyager, Nancy in relief

2 to 4 foot swells, 8 knot wind out of the southeast

10 am North 23 degrees 36.731 West 82 degrees 12.754, at 10 am feeding she says, “everybody get ready, its Roger McVeigh’s birthday and we are going to sing” (how she ever knew it was my birthday, I’m not sure, but very surprised to say the least, could be my best birthday ever)

Bartlett estimates Monday evening landing, several hours after darkness

She is now swimming at 49 strokes per minute, 86 degrees water temperature

Just before 11 am Bartlett was recharting course, saying we have big decision on course direction Course heading is now 260, water break in 20 minutes

11:18 am She was scheduled for water only stop, but needs food, doctors were being consulted about pain in corner of her mouth and inside of her mouth; doctors had brought xylocaine(?), but she decided against it

11:24 am gps coordinates North 23 degrees 39.696 West 82 degrees 9.952, holding course steady at 260 Dee is driving Voyager next for a 2 hour shift

Holding course at 260

12 pm noon feeding, breaks set at 40 minutes for now

Janet arrives for shift change, Roger to come back to relieve her at 5 pm

Shift 8 (Hinkle)

Shift 9 (McVeigh):
Shift started at 5 pm

She is swimming at 52 strokes per minute, compass heading at 330, 30 minutes between hydration/feeding stops

5:10 pm 10 minutes till next feeding, 30-35 minutes in between feedings now

We have travelled 70.15 statutory miles, approximately 37 miles from Oceanside Marina, water temperature at 86 degrees, compass heading is 330, first stroke count after putting suit on was 52 strokes per minute

Wind direction has changed and is now coming from east/southeast Gps North 24 degrees 2.488 West 81 degrees 55.609

Next feeding is at 8:20 pm, now swimming at 50 strokes per minute

About 10:45 pm storms arrived in a hurry, delaying our planned 11 pm shift change; rains and strong winds were on us in the blink of an eye and we went into storm protocol; suddenly all the shark divers were on board via the zodiac, then all of the shark divers entered the water forming a circle around Diana (could see small circle of red lights); Diana and the shark divers drifted ahead of Voyager and all of the support boats spread out putting some distance between the boats

Storms lasted a couple of hours and then we started getting back to normal Janet arrived at about 1:26 am to relieve me

Shift 10 (Hinkle)

Shift 11 (McVeigh):
McVeigh’s last shift started at 7:16 am Monday, September 2, 2013 Excitement is building

11:39 am approximately 52 strokes per minute; discussed landing protocol and need for her to exit water without being touched, according to email received from Steve

Lots of satellite phone call interviews this morning for Bonnie with various media

Time undetermined, 4.23 miles away, gps coordinates North 24 degrees 28.199, West 81 degrees 47.622

With less than one mile to beach, McVeigh rode to beach in dinghy in accordance with finish protocol

During all my shifts and time aboard Voyager (approximately 31.5 hours of her 53 hours of swim time), I never saw Diana receive any assistance in floating or in propelling forward, never used any snorkel or fins, she never left the water (always swimming forward or treading water), and she never hung on or touched any boat or kayak or person (with the exception of doctors taking her pulse and handlers/Dr. Angel applying sting stopper and lubricant to relieve chafing)