“How Dare You?!!!!”: What Happened When A Skeptic Challenged Diana Nyad On Her Home Turf

A Channelversary Special! Diana Nyad hadn’t responded to a negative comment in years—until Lisa Amorao told the truth about the Cuba-Florida “swim.” So Nyad attacked, and her fans piled on, pummeling Lisa with everything but facts.

Lisa Amorao died on May 29, 2022, while swimming in California’s Monterey Bay. I didn’t know Lisa outside of her social media presence. Tributes to her often emphasize the sweetness and positivity of that presence. Last year, though, she took on Diana Nyad and pissed her off enough that Nyad responded.

An independent investigator recently concluded an exhaustive reexamination of Nyad’s crossing. In particular, she looked at the World Open Water Swimming Association’s (WOWSA) ostensible ratification of Nyad’s endeavor. Two weeks ago, WOWSA uploaded the final report to its website. Among its conclusions: Other than the organization’s founder (Steven Munatones) sowing confusion, it had nothing to do with Nyad’s endeavor. Neither WOWSA nor any other organization ratified, recognized, sanctioned, oversaw, or otherwise consecrated Diana Nyad’s crossing.[1]

In light of that finding, I offer the following to honor another side of Lisa Amorao.

Faces from left to right: Prim, Lisa, Tanner. Via Lisa’s Facebook page.

(I posted an earlier version of “How Dare You?!!!” on Facebook four days after Lisa’s comment.)

On September 2, 2021, open water swimmer Lisa Amorao responded to Diana Nyad’s Facebook post about the 8th anniversary of her Cuba “swim.” Amorao called the date exactly what it was:

Nyad hadn’t responded to a negative comment in years. For some reason, though, Lisa provoked her. Diana waited three days, then replied:

Nyad’s fans read that as, “Attack!” If they had evidence that Nyad swam on her own, you’d think they would have offered it. Instead, they pounded Amorao with a storm of cultish illogic and hate. She and other Nyad skeptics calmly answered some replies. Others got a link to the Diana Nyad Fact Check site.

With few exceptions, Nyad’s minions responded by hurling more rubbish and abuse. Below are some representative examples. First, though, a warning: In lieu of logic, Nyad’s pals use lots of bad words.

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In the bulk of their responses, Nyad fans defaulted to name-calling. For example:

Above: Details from Nyad fans’ invective catalog, which includes screenshots of all the replies I mention in this post.

Then there are multiple versions of the classics:

      • “Envy?”
      • “angry much”
      • “jealousy kills!”
      • “Such sour grapes.”
      • “sounds like you’re butthurt you can’t swim to Cuba.”
      • “never heard of YOU…..”
      • “pretty sure you win marathon ‘hater’ award given by WOWZER!”*
      • “She’s a Trumper”
      • “You should be ashamed of your behavior. The end!”
      • “what a coward you are”

*This contributor likely meant “WOWSA.”

I especially admire the upside-down logic of that last one. It took bravery for Lisa to confront Nyad with facts. It took cowardice for Nyad’s posse to attack Lisa afterward with venom and nonsense.

Some Nyad fans didn’t care about the facts and said so:

I honestly have no interest in fact checking people. If this lady [Nyad] feels like posting something on FB that she is proud of, good for her. Relax, friend, Relax.

Others were just confused:

hi Lisa! Steven Munatones was there on the boat and certified Diana’s swim.

Steven Munatones wasn’t on the boat in 2013. (He explained this in a message to Amorao, archived here.) And he didn’t “certify” the swim until six years later, long after it had become clear that no one else would. Now, here we are, right back at the uncertified beginning.


A faux-feminist favorite of Nyad’s supporters: If you’re a woman, you can’t ever say anything negative about other women. Examples from responses to Lisa:

      • “Diana is one of the most beautiful, kind, giving, caring, compassionate, loving, honest humans, and for you to come on here and spew such hate fueled rhetoric, ON TO ANOTHER WOMAN no less.”
      • “I will never understand someone like Lisa that can only feel better about herself by putting other women’s accomplishments down.”
      • “It’s always strange to me when people put down others, especially when it relates to something that took a lot of effort. [Elizabeth Holmes put a lot of effort into Theranos.—Ed.] It is especially unbecoming when women put down other women.”

Another frequent argument adds an aquatic spin to another misogynistic favorite, “you’re being hysterical and need psychological help”:

sorry your life is in the toilet, sad that you take out your petty frustrations on a well loved athlete that made history. Maybe you should get a dog. Or a therapy dog. You can turn your life around and maybe inspire others. Give kindness a try, or your clients just may find out what a piece of shit you really are.

Some of the arguments attack Lisa’s physical appearance, which, like most of the other responses, has no bearing on whether or not Diana Nyad swam from Cuba to Florida. Not to mention that bringing it up, along with bringing up all the other nonsense and hate, displays the weakness of Nyad’s position:

      • “Get off your big butt and try it yourself.”
      • “Your dog is photoshopped and so is your face.”
  • One responder dusted off another gender-specific insult:
      • “You sound like a miserable hag.”

(By the way, most of those slinging the gender-based slurs—including that last one—are women.)

Where was the beautiful, kind, giving, caring, compassionate, and loving Diana Nyad while her acolytes verbally abused a fellow female? Like the dignity of many of her supporters, nowhere to be found.

One fan, however, tried to model kindness:

Unfortunately you have your facts wrong, be kind not a hater. You are doing great with your own work out routines, keep it up and be kinder!

That was Catherine Opie, Nyad’s friend, photographer, interviewer, and true believer. Unfortunately, she didn’t offer a smidgen of evidence to correct those “wrong” facts. Nor did her example do anything to curb the hostility. Two comments later, Cynthia DiSanto chimed in:

what a fxing [sic] lousy post you cretin!!! This was televised and documented, not a film you piece of crap!!! Get your ass out in shark, jelly fish infested water. You need to go away.

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I want to end with a comment that highlights two reasons Nyad’s con has been so successful: longevity and trust-by-association. Nyad devotee Nancy Kristol has idolized Nyad for so long that doubting her is unthinkable. “Her Cuba swim is legendary,” she writes. “Have you ever taught a TedTalk? Been invited to Sir Richard Branson’s private island . . . ??”

Above left: Screenshot of Elizabeth Holmes speaking at TEDMED 2014 (via TEDMED on Twitter). Above right: Donald Trump, Melania Knauss, and Richard Branson in 2002 (image: Lawrence Lucier/Getty Images via Business Insider). Knauss married Trump in 2005.

By 2021, Kristol had imbibed Nyad’s lies for almost half a century.  And she mistakenly believed that giving a TEDTalk or being acquainted with Branson proved something positive about Nyad’s character. Here’s the whole comment. Shame on you if you don’t read it:

just really surprised at the negativity in your post. Diana has been a Hero for me since her first attempt to swim around Manhattan in 1975. Guess what!! She didn’t make it! I was 13 and heart broken but she tried it again! Less than 2 weeks later!! And was successful. Her Cuba swim is legendary. Many many attempts. And she never gave up. What did you do today? Have you ever taught a TedTalk? Been invited to Sir Richard Branson’s private island to discuss the Oceans?? Then maybe you should go back and meditate on why you would insult an athlete and a Woman for that matter. Shame on you. Shame on you!

Yes, shame on Lisa. Not for that, though, but for leaving us before she had a chance to see Nyad exposed as what she really is, “the biggest and most blatant fraud in marathon swimming history.”

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One last thing: Please consider donating to “Rest in Eternal Paradise, Sweet Mermaid,” a GoFundMe campaign Lisa’s brother-in-law set up to support Lisa’s family.

As arguments move from the bottom of the hierarchy toward the top, they also move from more common/weaker to less common/stronger. The arguments of Nyad’s supporters fit neatly into the pattern: Most fall within the bottom two levels, none into the top two, and a few into the middle three. For more explanation, see Paul Graham’s brief and prescient 2008 essay, “How to Disagree.”

Image: Adapted from a graphic by Loudacris. Modified by Rocket000—hand-coded by uploader; based on Graham’s Hierarchy of Disagreement.jpg by Loudacris (originally from blog.createdebate.com), CC BY 3.0.


  1. The report also finds that, after taking all the evidence into consideration, Nyad swam from Cuba to Florida under her own power.

I haven’t looked at all the photographic evidence yet. And then there are the handwritten versions of the observer logs to get through. Nyad finally released them after holding them back for nine years.  For now, I’m sticking with Lisa’s conclusion.


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