Diana Nyad, Surely a Lesson to Us All

Diana surprised me again. No new facts, but the brazenness with which she presents a favorite fable will take your breath away.

This weekend, the DN Annex organized a scavenger hunt. We fanned out accross the internet in search of images that would support or refute my theory of how Diana Nyad may have cheated.

More on that theory in a later post. For now, I want to say—with all due humility—that I won big time!

And not only did I win; in the process of achieving victory, I came across some gems unrelated to the boom quest.

In particular, “Diana Nyad’s Extreme Dream,” Timothy Wheeler’s promotional video for his aunt’s 2010 Cuba-Florida non-attempt. Fifty-five seconds into the video, Nyad declares again, with her usual unctuous sincerity, “I was the first woman to swim around Manhattan Island.” In case the video disappears, here’s the clip (with a valuable bonus fib at the end):

This Manhattan claim is not new, of course, but here are a few things to bear in mind for this go ’round:

  • As always, Nyad knows that she’s lying. See, for instance, “Nyad’s Manhattan First.”
  • Recall that Nyad is the same person who just loosed an avalanche of sanctimony upon the perpetrators of the college admissions scandal.
  • Timothy Wheeler must have known that his aunt was lying.

At the time Wheeler filmed the promo, Nyad had not received permission to make the swim. By the time Wheeler posted the video, Diana probably still hadn’t received permission.

Asking for money for the swim at that point would have been disingenuous at best.

(Thanks to WikiLeaks for the heads-up on this. For details on Nyad’s 2010 permission-seeking process, see “A Unique Request…”).

Nyad never made it out of the harbor in 2010. She had waited too long to begin the paperwork. By the time she enlisted help in high places, it was too late.

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A few years later, Nyad gave a fascinating interview to limitlesspursuits.com. “Never give up: the courage of swimmer Diana Nyad” arrived in early 2015, just ahead of her so-called memoir, Find a Way.

Nyad revisits her Manhattan first:

When I became the first woman to circle Manhattan Island, there was an enchantment to stroking powerfully down the mighty Hudson River….

But that’s not the best part. “Who were your early influences in swimming,” the unnamed interviewer asks. Nyad responds:

For me, the press to be a champion had less to do with swimming itself and more to do with my thrill at being unwavering in my commitment.

Nyad never names a single other swimmer as an influence. The only person she can come up with is Diana Nyad and her unwavering commitment.

Nyad continues later in the interview:

[E]very long tough swim I completed back in my 20s was a tribute to not giving up.

In other words, every swim was a tribute to the fortitude of Diana Nyad.

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Between the time I found this interview yesterday and when I tried to retrieve it today, LimitlessPursuits.com disappeared. However, you can access archived versions at Google and the Wayback Machine. [Update: Back online as of 9:30 pm., so I added a link to the article title above.]

Let’s end with the words of the anonymous interrogator:

Whether you have an interest in swimming or not, the life of Diana and her passion to succeed will inspire while her humility is surely a lesson to us all.

Lesson learned.

Update 12 September 2020: Eliminated some unnecessary snark.

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