Regarding her abuse allegations against Jack Nelson, her high school swim coach, Diana Nyad claimed the following in her 2017 New York Times op-ed:

I’ve been speaking out, loud and strong, for nearly five decades now.

Were that true, she would have gone public sometime in the early seventies. Other reports imply that she began speaking out around 1989. The earliest published statement I can find dates from 1998.

No matter when it turns out that she began telling her story, the details change significantly every time she recounts the tale.

1998 (Atlanta Constitution)

Diana Nyad was 14, a high school freshman…

Nyad said she was resting at the house of her coach in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on the day of the state high school meet when he ripped off her swimsuit and sexually assaulted her. It happened again, two years later, in his office, according to Nyad.

[NELSON] “The more times she tells the story, the more dramatic she gets.”

2007 (Broward-Palm Beach New Times)

The second incident occurred in either 1965 or 1966 in Nelson’s office at Pine Crest….

She recounted five additional incidents that occurred in the back seat of Nelson’s car, a motel room, and a bathroom.

2010 ("Swim Coaches Caught," KCRW, The Score)

"In 2006, Ft. Lauderdale police ran a sting on my former coach on the phone, hoping to record an admission on his part, but he got suspicious and hung up…."

This claim was new to me. I haven't found it anywhere else. Nyad being the sole source makes it suspicious.

2014 (The New Yorker, “Breaking the Waves”)

… it was devastating when he forced himself on her, when she was fourteen, one afternoon as she was resting at his house before a swim meet. Throughout high school, Nyad says, he persuaded her to meet him in hotel rooms, at his office, in his car, and molested her.

Years later, Nyad disclosed the abuse to a former teammate, who said that she’d had the same experience. They reported him to the headmaster, and Nelson left at the end of that school year.

2017 (NYT, “My Life After Sexual Assault,” original, archived 9 Nov 2017)

I was 14. A naïve 14, in 1964….

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….

…That first savage episode signaled the beginning of years of covert molestation.

…These molestations were the cornerstone of my teenage life.

When we confronted Coach, in front of our high school principal and the school’s lawyer, he knelt at my feet and whimpered. He said he couldn’t understand why I would falsely malign him this way. The next day he was fired….


2017 (Facebook Live)

Frankly, if he gets thrown out of the Swimming Hall of Fame, I will find that justice. Not for me—how about Mark Spitz, how about the great swimmers of all time who are in the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Do they deserve to have their Olympic medals and their United States uniforms, under glass, right down the corridor from Jack Nelson? He’s a pedophile. And now he’s deceased. So, you know, I’m not out to ruin his family, I’m not out to ruin anything. (18:33)

We can rest assured, then, that altruism underlies each of Nyad’s allegations. We should expect no less from “the Most Authentic Athlete of Our Time.”

Diana Nyad strikes a solemn pose while addressing skeptics a week after her Cuba-Florida “swim.”
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