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.
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.