Diana Decides to Forget Half of Her Life

After years of writing and talking about herself, Diana Nyad misplaces three decades.

On a recent episode of the “Wild Ideas Worth Living” podcast, host Shelby Stanger asked about Diana Nyad about her expulsion from Emory University, an incident that Nyad has recounted numerous times. Surprisingly, she claimed that she had little memory of her teens, twenties, or thirties. She concluded, “…I don’t remember Emory at all.” Below are some excerpts from Nyad’s remarks. (For the full passage, please see “Diana Nyad on her memory.”)

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Questioning Diana’s Decade of Dominance

Diana Nyad has hyped herself for years by saying that she was the greatest marathon swimmer of the seventies. But she was never in the race.

Countless articles and websites hawk variations of “Back in the 1970s, DIANA NYAD was the greatest long-distance swimmer in the world”  (LiveTalks LA ). You can find other iterations broadcast widely online and in print: TEDWoman Fails in Attempt…,  Nyad’s website, etc.

We can trace this fiction back to two sources: Diana Nyad and her publicists. To paraphrase the great swim coach Doc Counsilman in “Go For the Gold, Doc,” Nyad was a mediocre swimmer who conned the public into thinking she was a great one.

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No Escape!

Nyad adds to the monumental epic-ness of her Cuba-to-Florida “swim” by claiming that she hadn’t swum a stroke in 30 years. But she swam at least 2237 strokes in the 1996 Alcatraz Sharkfest.

Diana Nyad has stated numerous times that she didn’t swim a stroke for 30 years before beginning training for Cuba-Florida, version 2.

From FIND A WAY, p. 117…

The dream was still alive for me now, at age sixty, but I hadn’t swum a stroke in thirty years.

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Diana’s Op-Ed Goes Live

The New York Times Opinion section’s Facebook Live event with Diana Nyad on Friday left plenty to talk about. I’d expect nothing less from a storyteller of Nyad’s caliber.

Update, 29 June 2019: Last August, the NY Times quietly issued a “correction” to a critical paragraph of the op-ed. Nyad’s detailed description of the time, date, and location of the first episode of alleged abuse (see previous post) now reads, “That summer, on the day of a swim meet, I went over to Coach’s house for a nap.”

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Diana Nyad’s conversation with Alicia Wittmeyer of the New York Times is the most disturbing thing I’ve heard from her. That’s saying a lot given the quantity of Nyad material that I’ve listened to in the last few years. The smugness, the fluidity of truth, the Trumpian rhetoric—it’s all there. But now she’s using her own alleged abuse to latch on to others’ horror in order to satisfy her own needs.

Nyad’s stories often shift from telling to telling. This time was no different. Continue reading →

Addressing Diana’s Op-Ed

Nyad’s recent piece in the New York Times contains a number of inaccuracies that cast a shadow over the validity of her allegations.

Update, 29 June 2019: Last August, the NY Times quietly issued a “correction” to a critical paragraph of Nyad’s piece. The location of the meet (see below) now reads, “That summer, on the day of a swim meet, I went over to Coach’s house for a nap.” The Times left all of Nyad’s other questionable assertions intact.

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All quotes come from Nyad’s article unless otherwise noted.

1. 1964 — Location of the meet

"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." (Archived at Internet Wayback Machine and at Later On.)
photo courtesy of www.seefloridago.com
  • Nyad could not have napped at her coach’s house between the prelims and the finals. Nyad’s school, Pine Crest, was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In 1964, the state meet took place in Gainesville, over 300 miles away.
  • Pine Crest could not have hosted a state meet or a championship of any kind in 1964. The school had only a four-lane 20-yard pool and no diving well.

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Diana’s GREAT Surprise, part 3

The final entry examining Diana Nyad’s bizarre response to being caught in her Manhattan lie.

Chicago Tribune front page, August 7, 1926, the day after Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel.

Nyad Invokes Ederle, and All is Lost

After being recognized as the first woman to swim around Manhattan in both highly regarded press and swimming circles...

Diana, Diana, Diana: we’ve been through this already. It never happened.

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Diana’s GREAT Surprise, part 2

The second of three entries examining Diana Nyad’s bizarre response to being caught in her Manhattan lie.

Billions of Gallons of Sewage Can’t Be Wrong

I was in graduate school for Comparative Literature at NYU in 1975 and when I came back to school in the fall, after a summer on the world marathon swimming circuit, such as the annual swim across the Bay of Naples, from Capri to Naples, Italy...

Nyad may or may not have gone to NYU, but she did swim the Capri-Naples race the summer of ’75. It would be her last time: she finished fourth of seven women, 14th overall—not the best evidence for her “greatest long-distance swimmer in the world” claim (see “Nyad’s Promotional Materials”).

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Diana’s GREAT Surprise, part 1

The first of three entries examining Diana Nyad’s bizarre response to being caught in her Manhattan lie.

In 2011, CNN caught Diana Nyad lying about being the first woman to swim around Manhattan Island. In response, Nyad did not apologize for—nor even acknowledge—her deception. Instead, she posted a blog entry full of excuses, justifications, irrelevant information—and more lies.
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Diana Nyad’s Manhattan Project, part 2: The Titanium Cap of Will

Nyad’s “Fearless!” performance contained much of her usual crowd-pleasing poppycock, but she hit the mother lode with her original take on protective headgear.

Tom Terrific and his non-titanium thinking cap.

As per my previous post, Diana Nyad appeared on the New Yorker Festival’s Fearless!: Life on the Edge panel on Saturday, October 7. Except for her religious conversion (see below), I heard nothing new…with one important exception: Ms. Nyad’s “Titanium Cap of Will.”

I hadn’t planned on writing anything about the event, but a Titanium Cap of Will? All quotes below come from Nyad at Fearless!.
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Diana Nyad’s Manhattan Project, part 1

Diana Nyad’s transparent and greedy Manhattan lie–“I was the first woman to swim around Manhattan Island”–gives us the key to understanding all of her deceptions.

Fearless fish and jelly.
Photo by Richard Wonka via Shutterstock

Diana Nyad returned to Manhattan on Saturday for the New Yorker Festival’s Fearless!: Life on the Edge. The panel — arranged by a highly respected magazine, occurring on the island of Nyad’s most obvious lie, and consisting of three genuine articles and one fraud — provided an indicator of the success of Nyad’s deceit. Despite her decades of deception, she took the stage unabashed. She recited stories that she has often parroted in other venues. Only a few in the audience knew that they sat in the presence of one of the greatest sports cheaters in history.
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