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Diana Nyad: From Swimming with Sharks to Dancing with the Stars

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Photograph courtesy Diana Nyad
View Images
Photograph courtesy Diana Nyad

Diana Nyad was recently named an Adventurer of the Year for becoming the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida. She is currently making turns on the television show Dancing With the Stars. We hope you will vote for her!

The common question these days is “How does the Cuba Swim compare to Dancing With the Stars“?

Well, that’s a patently absurd conversation. Cuba was a lifelong pursuit, an epic endeavor.

But, let’s leave those comparisons aside and focus on this DWTS experience.

It’s intense. In every way. I can’t speak, of course, for the other competitors. It could well be that Sochi gold medal winning ice dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis find these dances second nature. They were surely dazzling on the floor that first night of competition.

But for me, this is a fully new world, akin perhaps to going to Mainland China to learn Mandarin in a compressed few weeks. Every word, every movement, every transition is brand new to me.

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Photograph courtesy Diana Nyad

I got lucky to travel this journey with my partner, Henry Byalikov, a young Australian who has been part of the DWTS troupe of dancers but this is his first season as a principal pro.

Henry and I have stepped into synch in a myriad of ways. He is a beautiful, elegant dancer and to watch him demonstrate to me every subtle nuance of the body, the move, of a cha cha is like learning meditation from a zen master.

As a matter of fact, imagine this immersion to be like your going to your fantasy activity (pick it….painting water colors, scuba diving, carpentry), being assigned a world-class teacher, locking yourself in a room with this teacher and working every day for long hours, weeks on end.

I have always been a raging fan of dancing. To most of us, since the beginning of time, dancing represents joy and freedom and self-expression. I may not have wowed in the Fox Trot first dance out, but I have always been a free spirit on the dance floor…and certainly hope to bring more to the DWTS party with my next dance, the cha cha. But, apart from the competition itself, I am deeply engaged in learning a new “sport”. And when you see these dancers work up close, you have no doubts what superb athletes they are.

As for us 12 competitors, we’re in this together. I was so darn proud of ALL OF THEM the first night. I stood up on the balcony and watched each one, a wide range of talents, come out and show how hard they had worked to produce their smooth moves, their entertaining productions.

Amy Purdy is for every good reason probably both the crowd’s favorite and the favorite among the rest of us competing.

A double-amputee, just back from competing in the Sochi ParaOlympics, Amy is vibrant, funny, caring, smart….a shining example of strength of spirit and moving on with our lives, no matter the heartaches…and, we might add, quite delightful on the dance floor.

I’ve always wanted to do this show. So far, very early on, the experience has far exceeded my expectations.

And, as I move back to the studio to work further on my cha cha, let me be cheeky enough to give you my voting number, if you are so inclined:

Thanks for tuning in…..