From Bimini to the Big Apple & Beyond: The Lies in FIND A WAY

“We are believers,” Diana Nyad declares on the first page of FIND A WAY.

This post is the first in a three-part series about what Diana Nyad wants us to believe, why she wants us to believe it, and how she keeps us believing despite nearly half a century of deception.

Diana Nyad loves to tell stories. She loves to tell stories about big things—“I was the first woman to swim around Manhattan”—and little things—“Margie and I…started eating all our dinners in Miami at Benihana”—and all sorts of things in between.

You’ll find a theme here and throughout all of Nyad’s deceptions: she will say or do whatever she thinks will enhance her public image. She will distort the truth, ignore the rules, slander other swimmers, and denigrate or disregard the achievements of other marathoners while claiming those achievements as her own. It’s all okay in her book as long as it furthers her cause: the deification of Diana Nyad.

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How to Prove that You Swam 100+ Miles

Are you interested in proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that you completed a very long swim? Then you’ve come to the right place!

Diana Nyad says that she swam 110 miles from Cuba to Florida. Sarah Thomas asserts that she swam 104 miles in Lake Champlain.

Before you attempt to join the 100-mile club, use this handy chart to compare the way these two very different athletes went about bolstering their claims. [Update, 12/31/17: Added “including an accurate list of all crew members” to AFTER THE SWIM section.]
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Reykjavik Dune Buggy Assn. News

Some excerpts from Helen Dudar’s “Diana Nyad’s Magnificent Obsession.”

Cover of New Times magazine, June 26, 1978.

I had been itching to get my hands on this article for months. The L.A. Central Library has New Times on microfilm, so I finally gritted my teeth and struck off down the 10. Turned out to be worth it just for the dune buggies. [Update: I can’t believe that I forgot to include the most egregious, self-serving, and grandiose bit. See the Gertrude Ederle quote below.]

“Diana Nyad’s Magnificent Obsession”
page 1 | page 2 | page 3 | page 4 | page 5 |page 6

Some highlights:
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Diana Decides to Forget Half of Her Life

After years of writing and talking about herself, Diana Nyad misplaces three decades.

On a recent episode of the “Wild Ideas Worth Living” podcast, host Shelby Stanger asked about Diana Nyad about her expulsion from Emory University, an incident that Nyad has recounted numerous times. Surprisingly, she claimed that she had little memory of her teens, twenties, or thirties. She concluded, “…I don’t remember Emory at all.” Below are some excerpts from Nyad’s remarks. (For the full passage, please see “Diana Nyad on her memory.”)

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Questioning Diana’s Decade of Dominance

Diana Nyad has hyped herself for years by saying that she was the greatest marathon swimmer of the seventies. But she was never in the race.

Countless articles and websites hawk variations of “Back in the 1970s, DIANA NYAD was the greatest long-distance swimmer in the world”  (LiveTalks LA ). You can find other iterations broadcast widely over online and print media: TEDWoman Fails in Attempt…,  Nyad’s website, etc.

We can trace this fiction back to two sources: Diana Nyad and her publicists. To paraphrase the great swim coach Doc Counsilman in “Go For the Gold, Doc,” Nyad was a mediocre swimmer who conned the public into thinking she was a great one.

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No Escape!

Nyad adds to the monumental epic-ness of her Cuba-to-Florida “swim” by claiming that she hadn’t swum a stroke in 30 years. But she swam at least 2237 strokes in the 1996 Alcatraz Sharkfest.

Diana Nyad has stated numerous times that she didn’t swim a stroke for 30 years before beginning training for Cuba-Florida, version 2.

From FIND A WAY, p. 117…

The dream was still alive for me now, at age sixty, but I hadn’t swum a stroke in thirty years.

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Diana’s Op-Ed Goes Live

The New York Times Opinion section’s Facebook Live event with Diana Nyad on Saturday left plenty to talk about. I’d expect nothing less from a storyteller of Nyad’s caliber.

Diana Nyad’s conversation with Alicia Wittmeyer of the New York Times is the most disturbing thing I’ve heard from her. That’s saying a lot given the quantity of Nyad material that I’ve listened to in the last few years. The smugness, the fluidity of truth, the Trumpian rhetoric—it’s all there. But now she’s using her own alleged abuse to latch on to others’ horror in order to satisfy her own needs.

Nyad’s stories often shift from telling to telling. This time was no different. Continue reading →

Addressing Diana’s Op-Ed

Nyad’s recent piece in the New York Times contains a number of inaccuracies that cast a shadow over the validity of her allegations.

All quotes come from Nyad’s article unless otherwise noted.

1. 1964 — Location of meet

"That summer, our school hosted the state championships. It was a big deal, and I was a star in the middle of it all. In between the afternoon preliminaries and the night finals, bursting with confidence, I went over to Coach’s house for a nap."
photo courtesy of www.seefloridago.com
  • Nyad could not have napped at her coach’s house between the prelims and the finals. Nyad’s school, Pine Crest, was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In 1964, the state meet took place in Gainesville, over 300 miles away.
  • Pine Crest could not have hosted a state meet or a championship of any kind in 1964. The school had only a four-lane 20 yard pool and no diving well.

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Diana’s GREAT Surprise, part 3

The final entry examining Diana Nyad’s bizarre response to being caught in her Manhattan lie.

Chicago Tribune front page, August 7, 1926, the day after Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel.

Nyad Invokes Ederle, and All is Lost

After being recognized as the first woman to swim around Manhattan in both highly regarded press and swimming circles...

Diana, Diana, Diana: we’ve been through this already. It never happened.

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Diana’s GREAT Surprise, part 2

The second of three entries examining Diana Nyad’s bizarre response to being caught in her Manhattan lie.

Billions of Gallons of Sewage Can’t Be Wrong

I was in graduate school for Comparative Literature at NYU in 1975 and when I came back to school in the fall, after a summer on the world marathon swimming circuit, such as the annual swim across the Bay of Naples, from Capri to Naples, Italy...

Nyad may or may not have gone to NYU, but she did swim the Capri-Naples race the summer of ’75. It would be her last time: she finished fourth of seven women, 14th overall—not the best evidence for her “greatest long-distance swimmer in the world” claim (see “Nyad’s Promotional Materials”).

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