Diana Nyad to speak at Middlebury College commencement

MIDDLEBURY — Diana Nyad, who last year defied the odds and dangers to achieve her lifelong goal to become the first person to swim the 110 miles between Cuba and Florida without the aid of a shark cage or fins, will deliver the 2014 Middlebury College commencement address on Sunday, May 25.
A remarkable all-around athlete, Nyad set open-water records in the 1970s for speed when she swam around the island of Manhattan in under eight hours and for distance when she swam the 102.5 miles from the Bahamas to Florida. Retiring from competitive swimming at age 30, she focused on writing and broadcasting, becoming the author of three books, and reporting for such media outlets as ABC, CBS, and NPR.
Nyad returned to the water at age 60. She made three attempts to swim the full distance from Havana to Key West before completing the epic journey last year at the age of 64.
“Diana Nyad is a bold and fearless athlete whose determination is truly inspiring,” said Middlebury College President Ron Liebowitz. “Her mental strength and her belief in never giving up on her goals make her a role model for others who wish to pursue their dreams, no matter how daunting.”
Nyad will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters at the college’s commencement ceremony.
Five other distinguished men and women also will receive honorary degrees:
•  Carl Douglas, a 1988 Middlebury College graduate, native of Sweden, and acclaimed underwater explorer.
•  Angélique Kidjo, a Grammy Award-winning singer, artist and advocate for social justice.
•  William H. Kieffer III, a 1964 Middlebury College graduate, trustee and executive with State Street Corp. for 29 years.
•  Richard Levin, president emeritus of Yale University and new CEO of online education pioneer Coursera.
•  Reuben Mark, a 1960 Middlebury graduate, trustee and retired head of Colgate-Palmolive. 

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