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Yesterday morning, Diana Nyad embarked on a 48-hour swim, reflecting the emotional and mental strength it takes to overcome and restore a sense of normalcy to lives disrupted by Hurricane Sandy nearly one year ago. Now in her second day, her determination and spirit still haven’t faltered.
From the start, Diana was cheering and getting the audience excited, making the mood among the stands one of warmth and unity. Diana showed the same appreciation and interest with each new person who entered the pool, even many hours into her swim. She asked each swimmer their name and had a small conversation. It was like they were the only two people there – being surrounded by the hundreds of people that came to watch and cheer didn’t matter.
Approximately 100 people will swim alongside Diana including AmeriCares employees, service members, celebrities, and Sandy survivors. She made sure she hugged each and every person before they got out of the pool.
Celebrities like Richard Simmons and Ryan Lochte hopped in the pool with Diana. When Lochte entered the pool, they talked about different swimming techniques before getting started. She poked fun at herself and made the audience laugh by comparing herself to Lochte.
Several FDNY officers swam alongside Diana, and when the last one was exiting the pool she screamed to the audience, “Let’s hear it for the FDNY!” The crowd matched her energy and cheered and clapped for them.
With the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy coming up later this month, it’s hard to believe that people are still cleaning up and trying to get their lives back to what they were before the storm washed away homes and memories. One of the largest areas of unmet need is helping survivors to cope with the traumas they faced during and after the storm. Access to mental health services is limited for many people, along with access to basic health care and social services.
Swim for Relief is more than just a way to honor the strength of survivors and the people who worked to help them restorenormalcy in their lives in the year since the storm. It’s a way to remind people of the need that still exists. After a young survivor swam alongside her, Diana hugged her and said, “We have not forgotten you.”
And we won’t.