Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Shades of Moby Dick - Diana Nyad forced to abandoned her Cuba to Florida Swim!

This swim is more formidable then climbing Mount Everest. In fact, to convert this task into a more pedestrian activity,  it would be like going on a 400-mile run. If it were on bicycle it would be like going on a 2,000 mile bike ride without sleep.*

After four attempts at this remarkable and most likely unobtainable goal, Diana Nyad, is pulled out of the water by her team.
From NPR:

In a new post on Nyad's website, her team reports she was "fully alert and articulate" when she got into the escort boat and wanted to get back in the water to finish the swim. But "with lightning, thunder, and roiling winds tossing her tiny escort vessel up and down on the waves like a paper cup" it was decided that "for the sake of the safety of her team and herself" they needed to motor on to Key West. 
One reader in an email suggested that this swim reminded him of  Herman Melville's classic, Moby Dick, and I think the comparison is appropriate. For those who may have never heard of the book, let alone seen the movies, it's about an arm-less captain named Ahab who lost his arm to a white whale during a whale hunt and he is out to get revenge. His relentless chase of the whale is much like Diana Nyad's relentless pursuit on all four of her Cuba to Florida swims. However, to her credit, she listened to her crew whereas Ahab would have none of that and all but one of his crew members sank to the bottom of the ocean.

" …to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee...." -- Captain Ahab, Moby-Dick - 1851

It was hate, arrogance and revenge that killed Ahab but it was Diana's respect, smart choices, and desire  that left this whale for another day or another swimmer.

[*I am judging these calculations based upon pool-times-versus-track times-versus-cycling-times. For instance, the 400-meter dash world record (WR) is timed at  :43.7 whereas a 100-meter free WR is times :46.9 and finally the 1-kilometer cycling time trial WR is logged at: :58.875]


Anonymous said...

A big swim for sure, but with massive holes that were inconvenient for the story arc... the swim ended 60ish hours after starting, she's reported to have swam around 41-42... which means extended periods of time on the boat that they casually left out and news outlets are reporting it like it happened according to standard rules. Not a big deal to those outside of marathon swim circles I'm sure, but it's pretty roundly pissed off a lot of swimmers that play by the rules and do very big swims without huge national press

Bruckner Chase said...

Interesting that Tony's typical skepticism, which he uses to such great effect with the John Leonards of the world, manages to evade him when it comes to Diana. What is it about this woman that turns people into such mouth breathers?

Tony Austin said...

Besides not caring what you think of me, I must say that your petty insults are pretty anemic in nature and they make you look rather cheap.

You are an accomplished open water aficionado, no doubt about it, but you are definitely no Susan Moroney, Lynn Cox, Larisa Ilchenko or Diana Nyad.

Yeah, Diana Nyad.

In 1979 she swam over 100-miles from North Bimini Island in the Bahamas, to Juno Beach, Florida. I don't see any 30-40-50-or-100-mile swims or your page. The fact that I am excited about it is that she is what you called a "senior citizen" in a previous slam and I think it's great that she is out there swimming.

Now, the anonymous quote above your nickel-and-dime insult was rather intelligent and actually contributed something worthwhile. Maybe you could learn how best to phrase an argument from that person.

Bruckner Chase said...

The 102.5 mile number for the Bimini swim is an intentional deception, like many of Nyad's statements. Tony, go to Google Maps right now and measure the distance from North Bimini Island to Juno Beach. I dare you to find a straight line path that's 102.5 miles. It's more like 90.

In open water swimming, the distances we take credit for are straight-line distances, regardless of "distance swum." The 102.5 number refers to the latter, because it seems more impressive, and because the media and commentators like you don't know any better.

So, let's say the distance is 90. She didn't actually "swim" 90 miles. She was riding a Gulf Stream current that allowed her to average 3.7mph, which is about 1 minute per 100m.

Bruckner Chase said...

My problem with Diana's latest swim is that she touted it as an "unassisted marathon swim," which has a very specific meaning in the marathon swimming world. It means you are swimming without being aided by anything but a single textile suit, cap, goggles, grease, and possibly earplugs. There is some debate in the marathon swimming community about things like jellyfish suits, but that's about it.

One of the absolute non-negotiable, unambiguous, even SACRED rules of marathon swimming is that you cannot touch a support vessel, ever. If you do, your swim is done.

Video evidence clearly shows Diana grabbing hold of a boat during a feed. Who knows how many other times she did this, and didn't happen to be filmed in the act. Yet still, the swim is being touted as an "unassisted marathon swim." Bullshit.

Then word comes out that she spent 20+ hours out of the water, in the middle of her "swim," resting on a boat during a storm. The 20-hour break somehow never made it into her Twitter feed, or any media accounts, until the swim was over. Why is that?

It's OK if she wants to do a stage swim (which allows for breaks), but it's not OK to say you're doing an unassisted marathon swim, and make claims about world records & such, when you're not doing anything of the sort. It's deceitful, lacking in integrity, and disrespectful to those who play by the rules, such as Penny Palfrey, who by the way, attempted the same swim a couple months ago and swam 80 miles - much further than Diana has ever done. How many times have you mentioned Penny on your blog.

Tony Austin said...

Thank you, I appreciate that contribution.

Tony Austin said...

You want to do a post?

Tony Austin said...

To the blog as a guest writer?

Charlie said...

What is up with not mentioning perhaps the greatest marathon swimmer of all time - Alison Streeter!!!


Tony Austin said...

OH man, I missed her. I need to do a blog post on her. Thanks.

Evan said...

If you are curious about the marathon swimming community's view of Diana Nyad, you might check out this thread on the Marathon Swimmers Forum. It's long but worthwhile.