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: TED, Woman 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.
A great read about the race to become the first woman to swim the English Channel, THE GREAT SWIM costars Mille Gade, 2nd to swim the channel (and to circle Manhattan). And then there are the touching bits.
The English Channel is the closest thing we have to a Mt. Everest of marathon swims, contrarians notwithstanding. I recently finished The Great Swim, a book about the summer of 1926, when four American women went to Europe, all wanting to become the first female to conquer their Everest. It’s a fascinating story well-told. The author, Gavin Mortimer, also writes of the aftermath–how being first nearly destroyed the life of the young and unworldly Gertrude Ederle.