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September 6th, 2013
Humans, generally speaking, you worry too much about one specific ocean creature. It's probably because of that series of blockbuster movies that started in the late 70s. Or the now famous "week" that's pulling down good ratings for Discovery Channel and it's only spurned on by tales like that 'nado flick that blew up on Syfy this summer. This is a ridiculously unfounded concern: 100 die each year from such attacks. 24,000 from lightening strikes and yet we walk around under the sky like we're safe or something. 20,000 die from flu and yet we don't go-off on that person who sneezes next to us in the elevator. 200 people die each year from hippos! Where's the hippo hate? Diana Nyad swam from Cuba to Florida. The media is all over this like white on a great white.......mound of white rice. They hit some of the high notes: 110 miles, 64 years old, 54 hours in the water - it's all phenomenal, mind blowing. Then there's the strong inflection given to the fact that it was done sans cage: in print, on the web and on TV from the big networks to NPR to ESPN, even Letterman did 2 minutes on the lack of cage leading into "Top Ten Thoughts Going Through Diana Nyad's Mind While Swimming From Cuba to Florida". And the subtext of all that she-did-it-without-a-cage talk seems to be; "how did she not get eaten?". BUNK! In 1997 a very accomplished Australian swimmer named Susie Maroney swam from Cuba to Florida and she thought it would take her 50 hours. She did in 24:31. There was a great deal of controversy surrounding that swim because she was in a cage. It does seem possible (likely?) that mesh, added to the cage to keep jellyfish away, created an drafting environment for the swimmer. One of Maroney's strongest supporters after her swim was Diana Nyad herself who said "I think she [Maroney] is awesome...the issue of the..cage is always controversial. I got flak for it when I used one in 1978.". Diana's choice to forgo the cage may have more to do with adding legitimacy to her incredible effort than it is a perceived death wish by the fearing public.

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