Proving once again that no significant achievement becomes official until it's picked apart by people on the internet, Diana Nyad's historic swim from Havana to Key West is now coming under fire.
Over the weekend, Nyad, 64, became the first person to complete the 110-mile swim without the benefit of a shark cage. She finally did it on her fifth attempt going back to the 1970s. But the exacting scolds at the Marathon Swimmers Forum are skeptical.
Citing what are known as the "English Channel rules," Nyad's critics are sneering at her for wearing a protective suit to prevent jellyfish stings, which seems pretty nitpick-y. But they also wonder—more reasonably—why Nyad did not bring along an independent observer to track her progress, and why she won't release the data from the swim, including logs of her speed, her number of strokes, her feeding schedule, and her GPS.
National Geographic explains why haters like Evan Morrison, the founder of the Marathon Swimmers Forum, want to see this stuff:
Several swimmers point out a curious 7.5-hour stretch when it appears that Nyad did not eat or drink. Her crew reported that she was cold and didn't want to stop. Some swimmers said it's doubtful that after swimming 38 hours, Nyad could endure more than 7 without refueling. "Is it possible she rested on the boat and she's not telling us?" Morrison said.
Still more have questioned the speed of the 64-year-old Nyad, who has told interviewers in the past that her swimming speed is less than two miles an hour. There are hours on Nyad's blog culled by Morrison that she's doing just that, toddling along at 1.5 miles per hour. But for more than nine hours on September 1, Nyad's team reported that she traveled more than three miles an hour—at one point, almost four.
Nyad's PR team has refused to comment.
Photo: Associated Press