Diana Nyad jumps into the water to try swimming in a three-day non-stop journey from Havana to Florida at the Ernest Hemingway Nautical Club on August 31, 2013. (Yamil LageAFP/Getty Images)
ATLANTA -- For many of us, just swimming lap after lap in the community pool is challenging enough.
But take away that safe, blue line and calm, predictable waters, and you're in the world of open water swimming.
Megan Melgaard has lived in that world for 14 years. A swim instructor and open water safety expert, she spends at least four hours in the pool every day. So when she saw Diana Nyad walk onto that Florida beach, she knew what it took to get her there.
"You're going from the sun beating down on you all day with the risk of sunburn, to the cold, dark night. Scary," Melgaard said. "It's a very dynamic environment."
Melgaard was almost able to go along for the ride. She was on standby, one of the people that would have accompanied Diana in a boat during her fourth attempt. Melgaard's own race in Poland got in the way.
"[Nyad] really had to put herself in the mindset to do this," she said. "Knowing she'd tried four times before, but she really wanted to accomplish this and see everyone on the beach in Florida."