UH researcher helps Diana Nyad in historic swim

UH researcher Dr. Angel Yanagihara

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Photo gallery of Diana Nyad’s historic swim

It is without a doubt a grueling journey for the persistent Nyad, 100 miles from Cuba to Florida, without a shark cage for protection.

In past attempts Nyad was forced to stop after getting stung by box jellyfish, so she contacted Dr. Angel Yanagihara and the UH researcher developed an ointment type substance called the “sting stopper.”

“We made our plans before the swim how to manage the sting if she were to be stung and the sting stopper worked wonderfully with the exception on her lips,” Dr. Yanagihara said.

The UH researcher wasn’t just on the escort boat. She had to jump in the water every 15 to 40 minutes to do perimeter sweeps.

“I have fins so I can keep up pretty well but it’s hard out there in the Florida straits, it was very demanding work,” Dr. Yanagihara said.

The historic swim has amazed serious swimmers such as those who participated in Monday’s Waikiki rough water swim. Among them, event organizer Linda Kaiser, the only woman who swam all of Hawaii’s nine channels.

She says at 64-years-old, Nyad has to be mentally tough and perhaps being older actually helps.

“Mentally you can absorb a lot more pain than young people just because we’ve had to put up with a lot of pain during our lives,” long-distance swimmer Linda Kaiser said.

Some of the swimmers here have worked with Nyad in some capacity and are not that surprised that she finally made it on her fifth attempt.

“It takes a very special person with incredible fortitude and of course physical prowess to make this swim,” Nyad’s friend Mike Lewis said.

“She’s an inspiration whether you do a sport or not ,it goes to show that if you believe that you can do something anything’s possible,” Nyad’s friend Luane Rowe said.

Those who know her say Nyad is absolutely fearless and what she did is superhuman.

Related story: Nyad 1st to swim to Florida from Cuba without cage

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