After last week’s results, skeptics question the validity of Diana Nyad’s victorious feat of swimming the 110-mile trek from Cuba to Florida.
What is making so many of her fellow marathon swimmers doubt the 64-year old’s successful swim?
The term causing those to doubt the swimmer’s success is unaided.
Any swimmers to successfully swim 10 miles or more fall under the English Channel rules. In a very basic outline, when swimming the English Channel a swimmer must:
- wear goggles, one swimming cap and standard swimwear.
- wear only latex and silicone materials. Neoprene material is not allowed
- be seen starting the swim on land.
- be seen finishing the swim on land.
- not ever touch the boat or person while swimming.
In a nutshell, those who successfully swim the English Channel cannot use or adorn anything that will improve their buoyancy, speed, endurance or help the swimmer in retaining heat. Thus, the swimmer would then have to omit wearing a wet suit and fins. In addition, having contact with a boat or person during the swim would automatically disqualify the swimmer from the event.
Reviewing the basic English Channel rules, the suit Nyad wore to protect herself from jelly fish stings and the streamer that she used which was attached to the boat to guide her through the channel would immediately suggest disqualification from the event.
But what raises more doubt amongst her skeptics is the lack of having an independent observer on board to observe her victorious swim through the English Channel. It is the observer’s job to record and document the swim, giving proof that the feat was a success in addition to providing information on the tides and currents aiding in the swimmer’s success.
Unbiased evidence is the best proof for documenting a successful swim or so states Evan Morrison, a marathon swimmer who created the Marathon Swimmers Forum.
Skeptics are accusing Nyad of withholding a detailed account of her swim. And like all caged animals in the zoo, her feeding schedule during the run is in question.
During a 7.5-hour period, Diana did not eat or drink. Her swimming crew advised that her lack of eating was because she did not want to stop swimming due to being cold. Benjamin Levine, a sports cardiologist who has studied endurance athletes, confirms this line of reasoning.
However, skeptics question this action. How, over the course of 38 hours of swimming and puking, can a person not refuel their energies by eating? Doesn’t the energy supplied by food increase the metabolism and heat up the body? Without having an independent observer present during the swim, some feel that Nyad got back on the boat to rest during those 7.5 hours in question.
Another issue under consideration is Nyad’s rate of speed during the swim. In the past, the swimmer told the media her swim rate is less than two miles per hour. But on Sept. 1, Nyad’s support team states the swimmer’s speed during a nine-hour period to be three miles per hour. It seems the water currents certainly must have been watching her backstroke.
However, David Barra, who created the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim, doubts the authenticity of the three-mile per hour statement. The satellites and real-time flow chart of tides during this period did not show that the water flow was actually that strong to have her back.
So why are all Nyad’s fellow swimmers trying to discredit her feat which would also discredit the accomplishments of the marathon swimming organization?
The answer is not the skeptics discrediting Nyad, but to improve how a swimmer can victoriously conquer the waterways such as the English Channel, which was until Diana’s feat believed to be unconquerable.
Written by Lisa Graziano