“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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Dept. of Corrections: I missed Diana’s Manhattan claim by at least 26 years

Up until a few weeks ago, 2007 was the earliest I could find Diana Nyad claiming to be the first woman to swim around Manhattan (see The Score, 21 June 2007). I assumed, then, that Nyad waited for her six predecessors to pass away before leapfrogging to the front. The last-living of those six swimmers, Diane Struble, died in 2006.
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Attachment Disorder 3: Well-Connected

A little ingenuity, a little practice, and a lot of clear, high test fishing line: Here’s how Diana might have hitched a ride from Cuba to Florida.

part 1part 2 – part 3

Bonnie grabbed my shoulders….
She looked in my eyes, and she said, “Let’s find a way.”
And I took the leap. And we found our way.
 – Diana Nyad, Generation Bold, 18 Nov 2018, 4:51

To guarantee the success of her Cuba-Florida swim, Diana Nyad needed to construct a system that, ideally, would:

      1. Overcome unfavorable currents at any time of the day or night.
      2. Be easy to deploy and remove.
      3. Be invisible—not only to outsiders (the press, curious boaters, etc.) but also to members of her team, most of whom would not be in on the plan.

Whatever method she settled on, she didn’t use it in previous attempts. She probably had not envisioned it yet, still dreaming that she could make the swim under her own power.

In the year leading up to the 2013 attempt, Nyad’s guide boat, Voyager, accompanied her during long practice swims. Again, whatever method she decided on, she had plenty of time during those swims to develop and test her system.

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Attachment Disorder, part 2: Everything’s All Right

Early in her pro swimming career, Diana Nyad learned the benefits of hooking up. Her later mono-directional meandering provides strong evidence that she caught a ride from Cuba to Florida.

part 1 – part 2 – part 3

Carpe Funem (“Seize the Rope”)
Banana George showing how it’s done. (Julie Fletcher, Orlando Sentinel, via LATimes.)

In her first memoir, Other Shores, Diana Nyad lists the rules of a 1975 race in Argentina:

The swimmer must wear only regulation suit, cap, goggles and grease. The swimmer must swim to the side of his boat, not behind it. (Greta Andersen was once passed in a race in the Nile by an Egyptian with a wide grin on his face; he had a tight grip on a rope tied to the back of his boat, and was eating a banana.) The swimmer may not at any time touch the boat, the shore or another person. (p. 35)

The boom Nyad used for her directional streamer gave her an artificial stern. Swimming behind it allowed her to break the rule without breaking the rule, no banana required.

Andy Newman/AP via The Daily Dose

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International Fact-Checking Day celebration

To celebrate International Fact-Checking Day, a quick look at an interview in the Annex’s overflow pile: Diana Nyad with Adriane Berg on “Generation Bold.”

Last November, Nyad spoke with Adriane Berg of “Generation Bold: Fountain of Truth.

As you might expect, Nyad peddled many of her usual lies and exaggerations. But she added a few new ones.

First, a creel of oldies:
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Attachment Disorder, part 1

Diana Nyad did not, in my not-so-humble opinion, swim from Cuba to Florida under her own power. In the next three posts, I’ll describe—and give evidence for—my theory of how she made it look like she did.

part 1 – part 2part 3

In Medias Res

Starting with the rules laid down in my house when I was a child,
I have never much respected society’s expected standards….
When some television executive tells me
the story I’m working on has to have a linear structure and start
at the beginning, I revolt and take my case to the highest command,
arguing that to embark on this particular story in the middle and
work the early part in later hits the sublime emotion of it.
Ask Shakespeare about in medias res.

Diana Nyad, Find a Way, p. 222

><((̗(̂(°>    <°))̂)̖)><

Diana Nyad is well into the second night of her fifth and final attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida. She has made miraculous progress over the last two days, often moving at speeds more than double and sometimes triple her usual 1.5-2 miles per hour. At 9 p.m. on Sunday night, she’s chugging along at about three miles per hour—with the ostensible help of a strong current flowing northeast.
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