Extraordinary Proof: David Walsh, Lance, and Diana

From the moment Lance Armstrong began his post-cancer comeback, journalist David Walsh knew something wasn’t right. In 2016, he condensed his twelve-year pursuit of Armstrong into a 20-minute story for The Moth. He inadvertently tells Diana’s story too.

While most of the world reveled in Lance Armstrong’s miraculous return to cycling, Walsh asked himself, “How could it be that a man is transformed into a super champion by a two-year illness?”

We could ask the same of Diana: How could it be that a woman is transformed into a super champion by aging more than three decades?

As a matter of fact, just change the name and a few details, and Walsh’s Armstrong story is Nyad’s. Below are a few more examples from “Extraordinary Proof.”
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Nyad at the Ebell, part 2: It was Always Cuba, The Bartlett Pair, and Other Myths

More nonsense from Diana Nyad’s presentation a the Ebell of Los Angeles on October 7, 2019.

Warning: This post contains profanity—mostly “bullshit,” because Diana Nyad utters mainly that.

¡Cuba Siempre! 

After claiming to have been “the best ocean swimmer in the world” (see previous post), Nyad takes a step back to admire her grandeur and finds it wanting:

I held all the major records on planet Earth, uh, out in the open sea. But for me, all those were in one category—the Bay of Naples, the swims along the Argentine coast—all respectable, tough swims. But it was always about Cuba for me.

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Nyad at the Ebell, part 1: The Best on Planet Earth

In a talk earlier this month, Diana Nyad declared that, in the 1970s, she “held all the major records on planet Earth.” With those words, she swept under the carpet all the genuinely great swimmers of that decade.

On Monday, October 7, 2019, Diana Nyad spoke at the Ebell Club of Los Angeles for its 125th Anniversary Opening Day Lunch. “Come and meet this extraordinary woman,” reads the Ebell site,

…and hear her story. On the 125th Anniversary of the Ebell, the courage, determination and resilience of Diana Nyad are an inspiration to us all. (Ebell of L.A.)

My son Noah and I attended. Afterward, I tried to write something about the event. Only after finishing, though, did I realize what I’d been writing about. After that realization, the tone felt inappropriate. I couldn’t bring myself, however, to scrap the whole thing, hence the following preamble.


The crux of Nyad’s presentation—as it is with much of her writing and public speaking—was her attempt to erase from history many of the great women swimmers of the past.
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Anatomy of a 1978 Nyad Press Release

A press release Diana Nyad issued just before her first Cuba-Florida attempt confirms her breathtakingly flexible approach to the truth.

Just before her first Cuba-Florida attempt, Diana Nyad and her PR firm, the Kalmus Corporation, sent out a press release in the hopes of rounding up some sponsors.

Nyad wanted potential backers to know that she was one of the greatest marathon swimmers on the planet. You can imagine, then, that she and her PR crew had to lie through their teeth get creative. And that’s just what they did.
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Ratification Infestation: Notes on WOWSA’s Retroactive Recognition of Diana Nyad’s Cuba-Florida Crossing

On August 14, 2019, almost six years after Diana Nyad walked ashore on Smathers Beach, the World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) retroactively ratified Diana Nyad’s Cuba-Florida crossing. The actual change is meaningless, but the way it occurred has too many juicy bits to ignore.

Notification of the swim’s ratification arrived in the form of a late-night edit [1]  to part of Diana Nyad’s Openwaterpedia entry. Before the edit, it read:

Most of the questions raised by experienced marathon swimmers worldwide remain unanswered. As of 2019, the swim has not been ratified or authenticated by any official swimming governing body.

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“New Evidence…” Addendum: The Barnard Bulletin

In her New York Times op-ed, Diana Nyad declares, “I’ve been speaking out, loud and strong, for nearly five decades now.” That’s true. What she’s been speaking out loud and strong about, however, is a different story.

In 1976, Nyad coached the Barnard College swim team. That year, Barnard student Jean Anne Kiewel interviewed Diana for the Barnard Bulletin. According to Kiewel, Nyad said that she “started swimming in California and moved to Florida when her coach did.” (“Barnard’s Water Nymph: the Nyad Mystique,” 2 Feb 1976)

Following her coach from one coast to another would mean that swimming was so important to her, and that she was so good at it, that her family would uproot itself and travel across a continent to support her endeavors.
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New Evidence that Diana Nyad Fabricated Her Abuse Story

Just over a year ago, the New York Times issued a correction to an op-ed in which Diana Nyad accuses her high school swim coach, Jack Nelson, of sexual abuse:

An earlier version of this article incorrectly described an event associated with the initial assault on the author. It was a swim meet, not the state swimming championships.

The change gave the illusion that The Times had cleaned up Nyad’s mess. “We published a thorough correction,” editor Alicia Wittmeyer told journalist Irv Muchnick, “and don’t plan to comment beyond it.”

But the correction was far from thorough, leaving most of Nyad’s fabrications intact.
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The New York Times’ Diana Nyad Problem

The New York Times corrected part of Diana Nyad’s 2017 abuse op-ed. In an article posted last week, Irv Muchnick investigates and expands on that correction. Now the Times should finish what it started.

Last week, Irv Muchnick posted an article about the muffled change that the New York Times made to Diana Nyad’s op-ed, “My Life After Sexual Assault” (original here). Notice of the change apparently appeared nowhere but at the bottom of the on-line article. That notice reads:

Correction: Aug. 10, 2018
An earlier version of this article incorrectly described an event associated with the initial assault on the author. It was a swim meet, not the state swimming championships.

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Diana’s Kaleidoscopic Convalescence

Diana Nyad knows the real reason she didn’t reach the Olympic trials in 1968, and it’s not the reason she has been trumpeting for the last forty years.

One of Diana Nyad’s favorite stories involves a debilitating illness—viral endocarditis—that kept her from qualifying for the 1968 Olympic trials. In her tale, she was practically a shoo-in to land a place on the U.S. squad, but fate and infection intervened:

In 1968 observers thought that Nyad was certain to make the Olympic team. “I was considered a ‘sure thing.’ The media considered it a tragic case when I didn’t make it. An attack of heart disease in the summer of 1967 slowed me down. I just wasn’t swimming fast enough to make the team. I was so disappointed, I stopped swimming. I went to India to meditate and do my drop-out thing for awhile. (Barnard Bulletin, 2 Feb 1976; complete issue here)

Actually, she got sick in the summer of 1966, but who’s counting?

Obviously, not Diana Nyad.
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Diana Nyad’s Academic Freedom

We know that Diana Nyad went to graduate school. But when and for how long? Let’s see what Diana says.

A FEW WEEKS AGO, Diana Nyad hit 25K at newspapers.com. In other words, if you search for “Diana Nyad” (with quotes), you now get over 25,000 matches.

To commemorate this milestone, the Annex plans to publish a series of lists that will consist of quotations culled from articles and interviews. Each list will focus on a single subject important to Ms. Nyad.

We’ll begin with her academic achievements.
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