Skeptics: Nyad's Swim Was a Little Too Fast

Think she had help from her boat; team says only boost was from currents

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 9, 2013 2:19 AM CDT

(Newser) – Is there something fishy about Diana Nyad's record-breaking Cuba to Florida swim? The world of marathon swimming is rife with rumors that the 64-year-old may have had some help from her accompanying boat during the 110-mile swim, which her team says she was the first to complete without a shark cage, the New York Times reports. Skeptics are questioning the GPS data her team has released and are wondering if the observers on the boat were truly independent.

Some skeptics say an hours-long spike in her swimming speed 27 hours into the 53-hour swim is especially questionable, but Nyad's team says the only boost she received was from a current that she caught at the ideal time. (She started and finished her journey at an average speed of 1.7mph, but a swimmer who analyzed her GPS data says she nearly hit 4.5mph during the period in question.) An expert who reviewed the charts says he believes Nyad's achievement is genuine. "Many times that current runs west-east and you're constantly fighting the current if you're swimming north," he tells the AP. "In this case, it was in the shape of an S, and the angle was almost exactly from Havana to Key West."

Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad talks to the media after arriving in Key West last week.
Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad talks to the media after arriving in Key West last week.   (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
Diana Nyad swims towards the completion of her 110-mile trek from Cuba to the Florida Keys.
Diana Nyad swims towards the completion of her 110-mile trek from Cuba to the Florida Keys.   (AP Photo/Florida Keys Bureau, Andy Newman, File)
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