Oct 14

Endurance Swimmer Diana Nyad Speaks About Her Journey at NECA 2015


Endurance swimmer shared her insights and a firsthand account of her record-breaking swim, after four failed attempts, from Cuba to Florida during the Closing General Session at NECA 2015 San Francisco last week.

“It looks like a solitary sport, but it takes a team,” she said, adding: “Never give up on your dreams.”

Nyad’s dreams from an early age involved swimming. Her Greek-Egyptian father and French mother supported her, but her focus eventually became very intense after that.

“That’s how people get ahead in life – they’re fanatics,” she said.

Words of wisdom came from a fellow teenage swimmer, who talked about this importance of discipline and focus. “It’s the moment that produces the dream, not the big picture,” she said.

Nyad implored NECA members to embrace life as if they could not have done it “a fingernail better.”

And that’s what she did from that point forward.

After failing to qualify for the Olympics, Nyad was introduced to the world of endurance swimming, which would take her around the world. The Cuba swim represented Mount Everest to Nyad.

For about three decades, Nyad focused on other ventures such as broadcasting, but she always kept her eye on Cuba. Feeling more like a spectator than a doer and having turned 60, and despite some very public failures, she set her sights on the island nation again.

Support and attention ebbed after her fourth failed attempt, but she kept telling herself to remember the importance of the power of the human spirit. That carried her until Labor 2013, when she finally reached her 110-mile goal in about 53 hours.

“It was never about the sport,” he said. “It was bigger than that.”

Before Nyad took the stage, NECA CEO John M. Grau talked about the value of NECA membership and cited the conventions as one of the benefits.

“We’re really one big family, and this is our over-the-top reunion,” he said.

He emphasized that members don’t necessarily buy things from NECA, but they belong to NEC. “Working together makes us special,” Grau said, pointing to issues such as workforce shortages and multiemployer pensions.

“We’re becoming more proactive and less reactive,” he said. “2015 is turning out to be a great year, and we are ready to take on the challenges of 2016.”

ELECTRI Council Chairman Greg Long also presented an update on the group’s research progress.

NECA later recognized several award winners after before Grau spoke, including George Adams (McGraw Award), Dennis Quebe (Comstock Award), Wilson Yancey (Coggeshall Award), David Mackay (Wendt Award), and Brian Damant (Distinguished Service Award). Federated Insurance won the Industry Partner Award.

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