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 online and in print: 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.
The New York Times Opinion section’s Facebook Live event with Diana Nyad on Friday left plenty to talk about. I’d expect nothing less from a storyteller of Nyad’s caliber.
Update, 29 June 2019: Last August, the NY Times quietly issued a “correction” to a critical paragraph of the op-ed. Nyad’s detailed description of the time, date, and location of the first episode of alleged abuse (see previous post) now reads, “That summer, on the day of a swim meet, I went over to Coach’s house for a nap.”
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 →
Nyad’s recent piece in the New York Times contains a number of inaccuracies that cast a shadow over the validity of her allegations.
Update, 7 Sep 2019: Integrated new evidence from “New Evidence….” Edited post for readability.
Update, 29 June 2019: Last August, the NY Times quietly issued a “correction” to a critical paragraph of Nyad’s piece. The location of the meet (see below) now reads, “That summer, on the day of a swim meet, I went over to Coach’s house for a nap.” The Times left all of Nyad’s other questionable assertions intact.
"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." (Archived at Internet Wayback Machine and at Later On.)
Nyad’s school, Pine Crest, did not hold the state championships that summer, so Nyad could not have napped at her coach’s house. 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.