Confession: I don’t watch Dancing with the Stars. I’ve seen a few episodes by accident, like when I didn’t change the channel and it happened to be on, or when Good Morning America featured clips from the competition the night before. But while I might not be an aficionado, I can completely appreciate Diana Nyad‘s desire to become a great dancer, and hope that she slays when she makes her debut on the show’s 19th season premiere tonight.
At 64 years old and decidedly more masculine-presenting than her competitors, Diana could be seen as an underdog by those not in the know. But anyone who is familiar with the athlete knows she’s a phenom who has proven that she sets out to finish what she starts, even it takes years of her life. She’s been out her entire career, unafraid to be herself and share her awesome with the world.
Diana’s dance partner is Henry Byalikov, and tonight they’ll be doing a one-minute Foxtrot. One minute. On her final attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida, she was in the water for 53 hours. When it comes to performing under pressure, Diana has beaten the odds, and those odds were sharks, jellyfish, the fucking ocean. Tonight she’ll be up against Candace Cameron Bure, Danica McKellar, NeNe Leakes and pop star Cody Simpson, among a handful of other celebrities. Some might have more dance experience, but Diana knows her body better than most people probably ever consider. This could give her an advantage that could surprise her competitors, judges and at home critics.
Diana recently wrote on Facebook:
I’ve wanted to do this show since the first day #DWTS aired, nine years ago. I can’t speak for the other “Stars” and what they’re in it for, but for me it’s simple. I want to leave this show a dancer.
There’s no doubt in my mind she will, because Diana is the perfect example of being able to accomplish whatever it is you want to. She may make me a Dancing With the Stars watcher yet!
Dancing With the Stars premieres tonight at 8/7c on ABC.