Let me break it down for non-novice water sport enthusiasts:
Similar to Nyad the current can either aid or hamper your water sport experience. Nyad claims her fast time of 53 hours was in fact because of the strong Gulf Stream current near Key West. This Scuba diver has too experienced the strong Gulf Stream currents first-hand! Most recently on a shark tooth dive near Venice, Fla., at 33 feet down near the Gulf of Mexico floor. Members of the Greater Omaha SCUBA Club (Go SCUBA) were searching for Megalodon shark teeth. Read more about our Florida divecation at my Scuba Diver Life post at Nebraska Shark Tooth Divers. I want to add the current was fast. Go SCUBA had some very experienced Scuba divers on our dives. Two in the Go SCUBA group, Dwight and Jerry, who have more than 60 years of scuba diving experience between them. On our very last dive of the day, unbeknownst to these two veteran divers, they found themselves swept away in the current behind the boat. Not until the duo surfaced did they realize the fact. This is a situation--any Scuba diver doesn't want to find themselves in--having to fight the current to get back to the boat. The Hammerhead boat crew had to send out a lifeline attached to a buoy to get Dwight and Jerry back on the boat. On the other end; however, Scuba divers also use the current to aid their under water exploring. This is called drift diving. When drift diving a Scuba diver effortlessly rides the current to float him/her over corals until they reach their final destination. In short, it allows Scuba divers to use less effort on their dive.
Nyad's use of gear for her swim was also brought into question. It was reported that Nyad abided by most of the Florida Straits Rules: no shark cage, no flippers, never holding on to the boat, no getting out of the water, never being supported by another human being, never holding on to the kayak or helped with buoyancy. She did however opt to protect herself by wearing a full-body suit (wet suit) and mask at times during her swim. Let us remember her swim was more than 53 hours. How long before one is in a temperature regulated bath tub before your hands prune up? Nyad is in the open ocean waters where the temperatures can spike to below dangerous conditions for a non-insulated human. A Scuba diver's very lifeline is the gear and equipment we wear. No buoyancy help without my buoyancy control device (BCD) and I would not be enjoying the sport of Scuba diving. Without fins this land dweller would not be able to keep up with her dive buddy husband either. Any water sport enthusiast knows the danger of jellyfish, which can alter a swim as much as a strong current, too. While in Cancun, Mexico, while just out for a quick snorkel my husband and I got stung by baby jellyfish. It was truly a painful experience and til this day makes me leery about doing water sports in the ocean without any protective gear.
She didn't give up, in fact, this was her fifth attempt to set a long-distance swimming world record. At 64, Nyad indeed accomplished this world record! Will any of the naysayers be training for a similar feat in their silver years? Let's commend her for a truly amazing act at any age. After her swim with teeth chattering, Nyad said: "Never ever give up, you’re never too old to pursue your dreams, and trust in a team to reach your goals." Thanks for being an inspiration to swimmers and Scuba divers of all ages--Well done, Nyad! Keep swimming and diving!
(Editor's note: Go orange! The entire month of September all population-we™ posts will be written in orange to aid No Kid Hungry's effort to bring attention to their nonprofit's cause and help end childhood hunger in the U.S. Read more about going orange at our post on Help End Childhood Hunger for No Kid Hungry.)