Diana Nyad Tells Oprah How Her Mother's Death Inspired Her Historic Swim (VIDEO)

10/03/2013 07:58 am ET | Updated Oct 03, 2013

At age 64, Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage, am incredible feat she completed in just under 53 hours. On "Super Soul Sunday," Nyad tells Oprah she decided to take on this challenge after her 82-year-old mother passed away -- and her reasons had nothing to do with swimming.

"So I started thinking, my mom died at 82," Nyad says in the above video. "Does that mean, really, I have 22 years left? And maybe those last two or three or four aren't going to be too vital, I don't know." she says. "But the clock is, like, choking me now. And it wasn't so much what did I want to do. It was who I want to be."

"Whoa," Oprah says.

"That's what it was," Nyad says. "There's a Henry David Thoreau quote that really grips me hard, and it says when you achieve your goals in life, it's not what that gets you, it's who I am," she paraphrases.

Nyad says forget about the fame or the money. "I don't care about that anymore," she tells Oprah. "As you know, those things -- as you get older, who cares?"

She explains what's truly important to her: "Am I living the life that I can admire? Am I going to leave this earth, maybe as you do, leaving it a place where it's a little more just than it was, and human rights have been fulfilled more?

"Those are my values," she says. "And never giving up. And finding a way through your obstacles, and finding your grit and your will. ... At [age] 60, it wasn't about swimming, and this swim for me has never been about swimming. And I don't think to anybody out there it's been about swimming. It's about those values," she says.

"And you know what? I am that person. Swimming or not. And I proved it to myself and that's why I did this swim," Nyad says.

"What you showed us all," Oprah says, "is what a real warrior looks like."

Oprah's interview with Nyad on "Super Soul Sunday" airs Sunday, Oct. 6 at 11 a.m. ET on OWN.

PHOTOS: Diana Nyad's Swim
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