Sunday, September 08, 2013

A reader asked me if Diana Nyad cheated on her swim from Cuba to Florida

Got a letter this afternoon asking me what I thought of Diana Nyad's crossing from Cuba to Florida and whether I thought it was legit? - This is my reply.

Hello ******,

The skepticism is looney; If she followed the English Channel ruleset she would be dead. It's a monstrous distance and even refugees in cheap boats with 15-horsepower motors have died trying to make that crossing.

She absolutely swam that 110-mile "channel" and she did it with the aid of a strong current and lots of tech support: She utilized GPS technology, a wetsuit at night I believe, a mask to protect her face from lethal jellyfish stings and some sort of "Soylent Green" drink at feeding stops.

I see nothing wrong with any of the above for we will never see someone swim that "channel" without the aid of technology. Never.

Diana Nyad has essentially created a "Cuba/Florida swim ruleset" and now it is up to someone else to redefine this ruleset or create their own.

The next swimmer may do it as a stage swim with no GPS, perhaps swim it in one of those specialized full body-&-face "techsuits" like the one used in the FX Cable series called American Horror Story. They may even wear fins, or simply float across in some sort jet-stream that some computer software correctly calculated

She deserves credit and those showing skepticism should ask her for process she used and her specific definitions rather than be ad hominem.

I for one would like to see a stage-swim race or perhaps a team stage swim race with set 4-hour rest periods for food breaks, sleeping, and medical exams.

Thanks for writing.


P.S. I just did a wikipedia search on what those full bodies suits are called. They are called Zentai Suits and they are made out of lycra so they would work as a swim suit.


Amit said...

What do you make of her comments about secretly hoping that the Aussie swimmer would fail and calling Americans who helped her traitors?

I hope she wasn't being serious. I agree if she followed the 'Channel' rules, she would not have made it.

Tony Austin said...

If Diana Nyad said those words then I must say that those statements are quite shocking.

The cruelest trick the devil ever played was to convince humanity that whatever country a person lives in happens to be their own special "team" and all countries are competitors who should be beaten.

I was rooting for the Chloe McCardel and I really wanted her to make it. I was rooting for Diana Nyad as well.

As for Americans who helped Chloe McCardel being "traitors" (That is if Diana Nyad used those words)that's complete is nonsense.

collaboration is about shared goals and process. Not shared nationalities and flag waving. That is just to disenfranchising for me.

Anonymous said...

She did say those things, but I don't put such a negative spin on them. I read about it a year or so back, in a pretty fair depiction of Nyad (I say, without knowing her personally), probably in the Huffington Post. I wish I could quickly find it. It was a reality check for me, because I am so wont to putting my "heroes" on pedestals. But Diana Nyad, who just achieved the unbelievable, is a human being. She has layers. She is complex. It takes a single-minded obsession to even dream of such an event, at any age, more so at 64. In her quest to be the first, given her current variables, I'm just not surprised that she would utter words that the open water swim culture would take offense to. Swim a mile in her jellyfish mask.

I'm afraid to think that she didn't really do it. In these times, after Lance Armstrong's doping confession, the scares in Syria, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, and wars, it's nice to have something impossible to believe in. For me, let it be Diana Nyad. I don't need her to be perfect. And you know her motivational talks will be amazing.

Tony Austin said...

Even heroes and "Sheroes" get head lice.

I think Diana Nyad is a fantastic journalist. Her Op Eds are amazing too.

I also think hyper-competitive athletes are different than you and I. Perhaps the mindset Diana had when she said those words; (if she said them), is what she had to feel to motivate her. I don't like the words she used and I aggressively disagree with her but I would certainly have a glass of wine with her and her mate and take from her any wisdom she could impart.

She made the swim fair and square on her own terms not on the terms of her critics. THey should put on a suit and see if they can do it better.