Key West, Florida – In a nostalgic and heartwarming reunion, Diana Nyad, the renowned long-distance swimmer, returned to the very beach where she accomplished her historic feat of swimming from Cuba to Key West a decade ago. Nyad, accompanied by Bonnie Stoll, the leader of her Cuba swim expedition, participated in the release of a rehabilitated sea turtle named “Rocky” at the Florida Keys’ Turtle Hospital. This event not only marked the anniversary of Nyad’s remarkable journey but also served as a reunion for her former support team.
Ten years ago, on Labor Day 2013, thousands of people gathered at Key West’s Smathers Beach to welcome Nyad as she emerged from the treacherous 111-mile swim across the Florida Straits from Havana. At the age of 64, Nyad achieved the incredible feat of becoming the first person to complete this challenging swim without the protection of a shark cage. Her nonstop swim lasted an astounding 52 hours and 54 minutes, during which she faced numerous physical and mental obstacles, including stinging jellyfish and debilitating nausea.
During Sunday’s event, Nyad and the personnel from the Turtle Hospital carried the 120-pound female green sea turtle, Rocky, across the sandy beach to the water’s edge. Nyad humorously remarked on the turtles’ diet of jellyfish, expressing a wish that Rocky could have accompanied her during her swim and devoured the jellyfish they encountered along the way.
Rocky, who was rescued in January by officers from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, had undergone a series of medical procedures, including an eight-hour intestinal surgery, breathing treatments, a blood transfusion, and months of medication, before finally being deemed fit for release. As the spectators watched with anticipation, Rocky swam away from the beach and gracefully dived into the Atlantic, leaving Nyad, Stoll, and hundreds of onlookers applauding in awe.
In addition to the turtle release, several other events were organized in Key West over the weekend to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Nyad’s historic swim. One such event was a beach party on Saturday, where Nyad and her team members took turns sharing their memories and experiences from the remarkable journey.
Nyad’s incredible swim has also captured the attention of Hollywood, with her story being adapted into a feature film titled “Nyad.” The movie stars Annette Bening as the legendary swimmer and Jodie Foster as Bonnie Stoll, Nyad’s trusted friend and trainer.
As the waves continue to crash against the shores of Key West, the memories of Nyad’s remarkable achievement and the celebration of Rocky’s return to the wild will forever remain etched in the hearts of those who witnessed this extraordinary reunion.