Marathon swimming takes a toll on the body, mind and spirit. For record-breaking swimmer Diana Nyad, a mix of dehydration, sleep deprivation and prolonged saltwater exposure produced a dreamlike state that caused her to hallucinate during her 53-hour swim from Cuba to Florida. In the above clip from "Super Soul Sunday," Nyad reflects on the grueling experience -- and the "friends" she saw along the way.
While swimming at night, Nyad says in the video that she told her trainer, Bonnie Stoll, that she was seeing a scene from "The Wizard of Oz."
"I was looking underwater, and I said to Bonnie, 'Bonnie! I see the yellow brick road!'" Nyad says. "But what's really weird is, wasn't the yellow brick road [with] the tin man and the lion? But that's not who's on it. It's like those little guys who had the knapsacks who sang 'heigh ho, heigh ho.'"
Rather than explain to her that she was having a hallucination, Nyad says her trainer just went with it. "She said to me, you follow them," Nyad says. "They are going right where we're going. Just get right over them and go where they're going."
Nyad says she saw that "Wizard of Oz" scene for hours. "It wasn't like I was aware that's a hallucination," she says. "I said, 'I see the yellow brick road and I see those little men walking along."
Along with seeing Disney characters, Nyad says she also had a vision of the Taj Mahal. "I've never been to the Taj Mahal, but I guess I've seen pictures of it," she says.
The hallucination happened during a big storm, while Nyad says she was treading water, surrounded by the shark divers. "I was hanging on by a thread," she says. "I remember just kind of going under, and they would say, 'Let's do a little breast stroke. Let's wake you up.' I was getting cold, too. So I would do breast stroke and just follow them."
She asked one of the shark divers, "'Do you see it? There -- do you see it? The Taj Mahal is over here,'" Nyad says. "I saw all the sand and the grass all around it. And then I thought, 'What if I could get out and walk around for awhile, you know? Instead of being on the water."
"But there was no doubt in my mind," Nyad says.
"That you saw the Taj Mahal," Oprah says.
"Oh, it was there," Nyad nods. "It was there, yeah."