How old is Diana Nyad? Netflix's NYAD's inspiration and life explored

Annette Bening as Diana Nyad in Netflix
Annette Bening as Diana Nyad in Netflix's new biopic Nyad (Image via IMDb)

Diana Nyad, a name synonymous with indomitable spirit and record-breaking feats, has captivated audiences worldwide with her life's journey. This extraordinary saga recently found a platform on Netflix, in the form of the biographical film, Nyad, starring Annette Bening and Jodie Foster.

The movie, co-directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, chronicles the extraordinary journey of Diana Nyad, now 74, a swimmer who achieved her life's dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida at the age of 64. Nyad's incredible story exemplifies the limitless potential of human endeavor.


Diana Nyad: A sports legacy

At the age of 74, Diana Nyad continues to inspire generations. From her early days as a Florida state swimming champion under Olympian Jack Nelson's mentorship to a career in sports journalism and now a motivational speaker, Nyad's legacy extends beyond her athletic prowess.

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Her motivational speeches, including a widely viewed TED Talk, encapsulate her message of unwavering tenacity. She is a proud advocate of LGBTQ+ rights, embodying the developing stance on the inclusion of trans women in international sports.


Cuba to Key West: A treacherous swim

Diana Nyad's journey started in the heart of New York City, where she was born. Despite her urban roots, she honed her swimming skills in the competitive waters of Florida. She became a Florida state champion under the guidance of Olympian Jack Nelson.

Diana Nyad's swimming feats are the stuff of legends. She holds a record-breaking achievement with a circumnavigation of Manhattan, a world-best swim from Capri to Naples, and a boundary-pushing journey from Bimini to Florida.

These accomplishments were preludes to the quintessential challenge—swimming from Cuba to Key West, Florida. Despite several hurdles, Nyad completed this epic swim on her fifth attempt, on Sept. 2, 2013, then 64 years old, after swimming for nearly 53 hours from Cuba.

The Cuba-to-Florida swim is a saga as storied as Nyad herself. It's a stretch of treacherous waters that she braved repeatedly, redefining the limits of human endurance.

While the film depicts the swim as a solo journey with a single boat, the reality is quite different. Nyad's swim was supported by a fleet of five vessels and a crew of more than 40 people, including shark and jellyfish experts.

Bonnie Stoll, Nyad's manager, coach, and partner in ventures like the non-profit Everwalk, stood resolutely by her side, underscoring the power of collaboration in conquering Herculean challenges.


The movie debuted on September 1, 2023, at the 50th Telluride Film Festival. It made its debut internationally on September 12 at the 48th Toronto International Film Festival and was subsequently released in a few cinemas on October 20, 2023. Netflix released it on November 3, 2023.

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The encouraging sports biopic has received mostly excellent reviews, with 85% of 114 critics on Rotten Tomatoes giving the film high marks. The film's performances by Annette Bening and Jodie Foster were particularly highlighted, earning it favorable reviews. Metacritic's weighted average score of 65 out of 100, based on 32 critics, also reflects ‌positive feedback.

The Netflix film may have its share of creative deviations, but at its core, it celebrates the indomitable human spirit and the pursuit of the extraordinary, regardless of age or limitations. Diana Nyad's legacy will continue to inspire generations to come.

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Nyad is now streaming on Netflix.

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Edited by Prem Deshpande