Nyad Cheated? Skeptics Say Cuba-Florida Swim Went Too Fast

Monday, 09 Sep 2013 12:05 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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Diana Nyad, the endurance swimmer who became the first person to complete a Cuba-to-Florida swim last week without the protection of a shark cage, plans to meet with skeptics Tuesday who claim the 64-year-old cheated.

It was her fifth attempt in 30 years and this time she finally made it, embarking from Havana and emerging on the shores of Key West 53 hours later on Sept. 2. Only one other person has ever completed a Cuba-to-Florida swim in the treacherous body of water known as the Florida Straits. In 1997 at the age of 22, Australian Susie Maroney used a protective cage to make the journey.

Nyad now holds the world record for longest unassisted open ocean swim, but many in the marathon swimming community aren't buying it.

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The critics take issue with a number of things. First, Nyad's swim logs reveal an approximately seven and a half hour stretch where she didn’t eat. The notes also reveal that the veteran swimmer reportedly maintained a speed of roughly 1.5 mph for most of the trip, which is equivalent to a sprinter's pace. Nyad must have held onto the boat for portions of the swim, they say.

Others question her use of a silicone mask and bodysuit to protect her from the jellyfish that thwarted her previous attempts. Her navigation team was also criticized for reportedly clearing jellyfish from her path.

"Diana Nyad did not follow conventional marathon swimming rules," user JBirrrd wrote on a marathon swimmers' forum. "The speed as well as several updates regarding feeds (a 12 min. feed after first 1 ½ hr of swimming and that stoic 7 ½ hour fast Saturday night) are the glaring red flags that make me question the validity of this swim."

Nyad plans to meet with her "peers" in the swimming community Tuesday to dispute the cheating claims, her team said.

"Diana is proud of what she and her team accomplished last week, and she is committed to complete transparency," Alexandra Crotin, one of Nyad's spokeswomen, said in a statement.

Nyad's other long-distance accomplishments include swimming around the island of Manhattan and making the trip from the Bahamas to Florida in 1979.

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Related stories:

Jellyfish, Storms Thwart Nyad's Cuba- Florida Swim

Nyad Sets Off in Last Attempt to Swim Cuba to Florida

US Swimming Nyad More Than Three-Quarters Through Cuba-to-Florida Swim  

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