Diana Nyad to speak at next Bryan Series

U.S. long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad will be speaking at the last Bryan Series installment for the 2018-2019 academic year at the Greensboro Coliseum on Thursday, April 11.

The main event will be held from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. A Q&A session with Guilford students, staff and faculty members will be held earlier in the day, from 4:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., in the East Gallery of Founders Hall.

The Bryan Series team hopes that the Q&A event will provide community members with the opportunity to get more up-close and personal with Nyad, allowing community members to ask questions they have about her experiences.

After five different attempts and at the age of 64, Nyad completed an estimated swim of 110 miles from Cuba to Florida as the first person to do so without a shark cage or flippers. Nyad spent 35 years trying to cross the Florida strait and completed the record-breaking feat after a 53-hour swim. In 1978 at the age of 28, she made her first unsuccessful attempt at the swim and was able to cover approximately 76 miles in 42 hours with a shark cage.

According to the Bryan Series team on Guilford’s website, Nyad is “a living example of her own words: Never, ever give up.”

Nyad was born in New York and raised in south Florida by a Greek-Egyptian stepfather and French mother. At 12 years old, Nyad swam six hours a day.

In 1979, Nyad completed a swim from the Bahamas to Florida and ended the long-distance career that broke several world records. She went on to work in the fields of sports journalism and fitness.

Nyad returned to the dream she had pushed to make true during her long-distance swimming career. She made this into a reality when she completed her sixth and record-breaking swim on Sept. 2, 2013.

In her 2015 memoir “Find a Way,” Nyad shared her experiences and story with the public, engaging readers with “a unique, passionate story of this heroic adventure and the extraordinary life experiences that have served to carve her unwavering spirit,” according to the Guilford Bryan Series website.

Nyad will be sharing her story, as well as the lessons she has learned, in a similar manner with the Guilford community at her Bryan Series talk.

First-year Luke Harkins emphasized the meaningful dialogue that Bryan Series talks bring to the campus and Greensboro community. Harkins believes that Nyad’s talk will have the same effect.

“I was really impressed with the Bryan speakers,” Harkins said. “I went to the talk by Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Guilford should definitely continue to support the Bryan Series.”

Junior Kathy Nguyen expressed similar sentiments, reflecting on her own involvement with the series this year.

“I didn’t really go to any of the Bryan Series events this year, but I think it’s a great opportunity for students and staff to go to and learn more about these speakers and to be motivated by their stories,” Nguyen said.

Many students, including junior Brenna Carpenter, believe the Bryan Series events offer the campus community with an authentic opportunity for listening and discussion with individuals who have made their stories public to some extent. Carpenter sees the same opportunity with Nyad’s installment.

“It’s very Amelia Earhart-esque,” Carpenter said. “The (Bryan Series events) that I went to were all really cool. I went to the talk by (Brandon Stanton from) Humans of New York. I loved that. It was just really fun and it was a pretty accessible thing. It’s cool to be able to see these famous people and talk to them and see that they are a real person.”