Diana Nyad Says She Didn’t Cheat, Swim Was ‘Squeaky Clean And Ethical’

Addam Corré - Author

Sep. 12 2013, Updated 7:37 a.m. ET

Diana Nyad says she has the right to set the ground rules for future swims from Cuba to Florida.

Accusations that she got in or held onto a boat during part of her journey caused Nyad and her team to talk with around a dozen members of the marathon swimming community on Tuesday.

Nyad said the first person to make a crossing could make the rules for that body of water. Her rules for the Florida Straits would be:

No flippers, no shark cage, no getting out of the water, never holding on to the boat, never holding on to the kayak, never being supported by another human being or being lifted up or helped with buoyancy. A full body suit and face mask would be allowed to protect against venomous jellyfish.

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Some people had questioned whether that violated tradition. Nyad said, “The swim requires it … I don’t mean to fly in the face of your rules, but for my own life’s safety, a literal life-and-death measure, that’s the way we did it.

She also said she never left the water, “I swam. We made it, our team, from the rocks of Cuba to the beach of Florida, in squeaky-clean, ethical fashion.”

Critics were skeptical about long periods during the 53-hour-swim when Nyad appeared to have either picked up incredible speed or to have gone without food or drink.

Evan Morrison, co-founder of the online Marathon Swimmers Forum, said Nyad and her team addressed the issues that disturbed the forum members. “What you’re seeing is the combination of the speed of Diana propelling herself in the water and the speed of the current carrying us across the bottom,” he said.

Tamay Ozgokmen, oceanography professor at the University of Miami said that ocean currents contributed much to Nyad’s speed. “I don’t have trouble believing that she said she essentially doubled her speed during her swim because of the ocean currents.”

Diana Nyad completed the journey on her fifth attempt; she was the first person to make the crossing without a shark cage and she didn’t know about the controversy until she saw it on the news,”First of all, I was trying to feel some joy,” she said.


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