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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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 Nyad’s Manhattan Project

Diana Nyad’s transparent and greedy Manhattan lie–“I was the first woman to swim around Manhattan Island”–gives us the key to understanding all of her deceptions.

Fearless fish and jelly.
Photo by Richard Wonka via Shutterstock

Diana Nyad returned to Manhattan on Saturday for the New Yorker Festival’s Fearless!: Life on the Edge. The panel–arranged by a highly respected magazine, occurring on the island of her most obvious lie, consisting of three genuine articles and one fraud–provided an indicator of the success of Nyad’s deceit. Despite her decades of deception, she took the stage unabashed. She recited stories that she has often parroted in other venues. Only a few in the audience knew that they sat in the presence of one of the greatest sports cheaters in history.
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