Diana Nyad's Directional "Streamer"

JenAJenA Charter Member
edited February 2013 in General Discussion
Diana is reattempting her Cuba swim right now, and posted this video from about 90-minutes in.

In it, you can see a very long pole with something dangling from it. The video's description explains: "The long boom carries a streamer that Diana swims above, giving her a path to swim, just line a lane line at the bottom of a pool."

Any thoughts on this? What say you, puritans of marathon swimming? :) Genius or artifical aid?


  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    Bob I've got one that only plays Cats. You can have it.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited August 2012
    For those who are curious about the mindset of the "purists" and "traditionalists," these are the sorts of statements that drive them bonkers:

    "This swim is five English Channels, with sharks and box jellies added." [source]

    i.e., comparing your swim (favorably) with the English Channel when you flagrantly disregard rules of said swim.

    "A runner struck with sharp pain can stop, sit down and stretch. A marathon swimmer can’t do that." [source]

    That's true, a marathon swimmer can't do that. But evidently, she can - and does!
  • bobswimsbobswims OregonCharter Member
    evmo said:

    "This swim is five English Channels, with sharks and box jellies added." [source]

    I had to check this one. It's ridiculous that someone who hasn't done either swim would say this. I understand that she is selling a product (herself) but this sounds way too much like Donald to me. (This is not a compliment)
  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    evmo said:

    "This swim is five English Channels, with sharks and box jellies added." [source]

    .....and 25 degrees warmer (just sayin')

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • paulmpaulm Senior Member
    edited August 2012
    Hey Guys...great site. A quick question tothose more knowledgeble outthere. CNN is reporting ' n the 1970s, Nyad was unstoppable. In addition to winning multiple swimming marathons, she was one of the first women to encircle the island of Manhattan, and she holds the world's record for longest ocean swim -- 102.5 miles from the island of Bimini in the Bahamas to Jupiter, Florida'


    I have been trying to google map this swim (102.5 miles Bimini to Jupiter )over the last few hours and are struggling to get anywhere this distance. Are the start /end points correct or does it include tide movements in the distance
  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaCharter Member
    @paulm - From what I've been told, by a very reputable source in the open water community, this distance was tracked as the "total distance swum", and not a straight line distance, as what is most common today. Not to take anything away from Diana, as this distance, regardless, is still an awesome swim. I'd like to know the straight line distance, and if so, how does this compare to Penny's Cayman swim...

    www.darren-miller.com Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited August 2012
    Diana was also riding a giant Gulf Stream current in the Bimini swim - her finish time works out to 3.7mph.
  • bobswimsbobswims OregonCharter Member
    I'm on the road with only an iPhone so I have Limited ability to fact check but this is what I know.

    In the early 80s DN was the most recognizable public figure in marathon swimming. It was the same time I first decided I wanted to swim CC&EC. She was not the inspiration for either of them but she did bring attention to the sport.

    Measuring the distance in any way other then the straight line distance is an intentional deception. People swimming know better. Tidel and other currents will carry you along with no effort from the swimmer. The only other situation is if you are swimming against the current. In that case you could conceivably swim miles in the water but never move. The only way you can accurately measure the actual distance swam is by being able to measure the GPS distance and the actual current speed and direction at every given moment (use of calculus permitted) and calculate the distance swam in relationship to the water you are in.

    I don't know what DN's team is doing in their blog entries but DN has always reference the straight line distance which is the "official" distance of measurement for records.
  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    edited August 2012
    I had proposed to Steve back in April that it would/could be an asset to the sport to write up guidelines for the media on how to report a marathon swim.

    He asked me to write a draft but... uh... that was April. :)

    Perhaps we can get a team of swimmers together to collaberate on this effort? I'm not sure that going through iterative edits on OpenWaterPedia is the way to go -- I'm thinking maybe we put a group of interested parties together, work together to craft something offline, run it by the key swim organizations (CSA, CS&PF, Santa Barbara, Catelina, Solo Swims Ontario, International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame... (my apologies for being UK-/North American-centric. I'm not sure who the international players are)), and present a unified front and finalized document.

    Maybe via Google Docs? Anyone interested?
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandAdmin
    edited August 2012
    @JenA a couple of months ago a selection of the people & organisations you mentioned, some here, had a lengthy email discussion on a possible global consolidation of rules. It was very interesting but doomed to failure. And since it was email, I consider the contents private.

    However, what you suggest is an excellent idea that might not require the likely impossible-to-achieve agreement of all CS Associations. Not only that but it is the type of macro-issue that as a group we should be discussing. I've split it off to a new thread, let's keep it public and open to everyone. We could work on the areas of concern, and worry about the list of organisations later.


  • IronMikeIronMike Arlington, VACharter Member
    I have no problem with what DN is doing except for the fact she's calling it marathon swimming.

    I still have triathlete friends telling me "Well, you get to grease up for warmth, so why give me sh!t for wearing a wetsuit in 78 degree water?"

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

  • bobswims said:

    Hopefully SM as an official observer is documenting the rules she is applying to her swim.

    I hope too.
  • bobswimsbobswims OregonCharter Member
    There is a big story on CNN.com on her swim. It's the lead story on their mobile app. It identifies DN's operation chief as Mark Sollinger who told CNN that she was in the water for 63 hours. He goes on to say that "nobody else in the world would try this but we did". (quotation from memory).

    I hope this gets better and not worse.

    I did get a bit of a chuckle out of DN's blog entry talking about the stoppage. When they were describing the squall I was waiting for them to mention that it was a 3 hour tour. However, if you've been in a squall in the open ocean you know how fast they can come up on you and how intense they are. I'm not sure I buy the swim was ended for the safety of the crew story. How is it people make it across in a dingy?
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    bobswims said:

    When they were describing the squall I was waiting for them to mention that it was a 3 hour tour.

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member
    edited August 2012
    Niek said:

    She was out of the water for a while.

    In and of itself, that doesn't bother me all that much (sort of). If it's a stage swim, that's fine. I agree with everybody here who will say that she should indicate it as a stage swim beforehand. The biggest problem I have is that sources like CNN are still reporting it as a 60 hour effort or something like that. Perhaps she didn't sleep in 60 hours (which I can't do very easily in normal day to day life), perhaps the total time from water entry to swim abandonment was 60 hours, but it wasn't a 60 hour effort.

    If she had made it using whichever mishmash of rules she wanted to use, that would have been impressive, but the fact that it would have been reported improperly would have put our sport in an improper light. Especially since people seem to forget about Penny Palfrey's attempt this June, and aren't mentioning it it any of the reports going out.

    One thing I never understood, why was she making all of these attempts in the summer? Wouldn't the aquatic life and water temperature be less of an issue in December or January?
  • December/January could be bad weather in those parts. Hurricane season I believe starts in about another month. I think she was also counting on the summer heat to keep her warm.

    Here's the one line of this all that keeps making me want to shout "Bull Shit!", so someone please dispute this for me because I don't feel comfortable speaking poorly about someone attempting a swim like that:

    "She was stung by box jellyfish nine times on Monday night alone"

    That's from her website/blog. Now, I may be an armchair biologist, but isn't the box jellyfish so deadly that she has about 4 minutes to live if she doesn't receive treatment....let alone keep swimming?
  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    December/January could be bad weather in those parts. Hurricane season I believe starts in about another month.

    I live in Louisiana, hurricane seasonis from June 1 to November 1. Around September, the storms tend more toward the Atlantic than the Gulf, I think, but I don't remember why, and that isn't universal (Ike hit Houston on Sept 9, 2009). Remember, a tropical storm delayed Penny Palfrey's attempt earlier this year.

    Our best weather here in Baton Rouge is in March. I don't know how the gulf fares, and my evidence is admittedly anecdotal.
  • bobswimsbobswims OregonCharter Member
    Niek said:
    It was a dark and stormy night . . .

  • bobswimsbobswims OregonCharter Member
    I definitely think 60 people in 5 boats makes a circus under any imaginable marathon swimming rules.
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member

    "She was stung by box jellyfish nine times on Monday night alone"

    That's from her website/blog. Now, I may be an armchair biologist, but isn't the box jellyfish so deadly that she has about 4 minutes to live if she doesn't receive treatment....let alone keep swimming?

    that's what I thought too! Maybe there is more than one kind of box jelly.
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    Here's the one I'm thinking of.


    I guess this is not the kind in Cuba
  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member
    edited August 2012
    Niek said:

    I don't mention Penny's attempt because:...

    In a way I'm glad DN failed again because she would have made what Penny's achieved fade away in history if she had made it.
    The giant media circus surrounding Diana's crossing would have erupted even more had she succeeded.

    I know people here remember the attempt. I'm talking media outlets in general. While it was an assisted swim, the lady who completed the swim in the 70s or 80s also isn't getting any mention. Heck, I'm willing to give Nyad a little credit for more mental strength than a lot of people, but have the fortitude to spread the proper and complete picture to the media outlets who seem so enamored by the prospect of attempting to swim that far.

    Had DN completed the swim in a respectable manner, or at least under a clearly stated set of rules, I would have been less opposed to her succeeding. But, like you, and to the surprise of my coworkers (who know about the swim through ABC/CNN/pick your TV channel), I'm glad she didn't make it. It wouldn't have had the asterisk next to the attempt that it deserved. Yes, she was swimming without a shark cage (the big deal I kept hearing made in the media reports I read/watched), but she was swimming under a farcical, imaginary set of rules.

    Someone on reddit yesterday referred to her efforts as quixotic. Someone at work yesterday as I was leaving asked if I thought that she'd keep making attempts until it killed her. I hope that she does know when to quit. At least she is making a few changes and not making the attempts under the same strategy.

    I still don't understand why she's attempting the swim during hurricane season in water that's so ridiculously hot, either.
  • MunatonesMunatones Charter Member
    I was on Diana Nyad's boat and I have also been on Penny Palfrey's boat ... and many other swimmer's boat over the decades. I find each swimmer's approach to their swims very interesting and sometimes very different. I personally enjoy these differences.

    For Diana's swim this week, it was educational. Not only did I have time to spend talking and learning from Angel Yanagihara, it was also wonderful to see the research being done during the swim on jellyfish. Dr. Yanagihara, with the help of 4 researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, were not only capturing and identifying jellyfish out in this part of the world, they were able to explain why and how these jellyfish do what they do. If you do not know who Dr. Yanagihara is, there are a few Daily News of Open Water Swimming articles on her. It was also a time to test out Dr. Yanagihara's jellyfish ointment which worked wonders. She and her team literally created a mini research lab on the escort boats. I thought it was really cool and a great opportunity for researchers to conduct research in the middle of the Florida Straits. Her jellyfish ointment formulation has been recently licensed to a commercial enterprise which will soon market it. I know that I will certainly use her formulation if I ever swim in waters where jellyfish like the box jellyfish exist. Not only did Diana get stung, but so did the shark divers. Dr. Yanagihara immediately treated everyone who got stung and the relief on their faces were clearly evident. If anyone wishes to discuss the protocols or ointment that Dr. Yanagihara developed, she is a wonderful scientist and is very much interested in helping others in this sport.

    Of course, many jellyfish also hit Diana on parts on her body that was covered in a stinger suit. In a global survey of leading marathon swimmers and channel swimming organizations, there was an overwhelming consensus that stinger suits do not fall outside the generally accepted rules of the sport. Before everyone starts to tell me how wrong this statement is, allow me to state there were some obvious exceptions to that rule (e.g., Channel Swimming Association), but many representatives of other channel swimming associations agreed that stinger suits are acceptable. I am not making this up for I have written evidence by leaders in the sport that the stinger suits that both Penny Palfrey and Diana were acceptable.

    I would also like to address other issues:

    1. In my opinion, it is not necessary for Diana's escort boat crew members to mention Penny Palfrey's swim because Penny did not make it. If Penny would have made her swim, this obviously would change the situation. But Penny was not successful, so no mention was made by Diana or her team during the swim. However, at the press conference in Havana, Diana was asked about Penny. I have yet to report what she said because I have several articles to yet write, but Diana spoke in tremendously respectful and glowing terms about Penny. In front of CNN, AP, Reuters and several other media, Diana called Penny the greatest marathon swimmer of the day among other things. Diana gave Penny her just due. While this may be unbelievable to some, please feel free to participate in the Global Open Water Swimming Conference where Diana (and others from Mike Read to Lewis Pugh and Craig Dietz and Marcy MacDonald) will speak. Ask Diana directly about Penny and you will see tremendous respect of Penny by Diana. It is also interesting to note that when Penny swam, she did not mention Diana. I do not think mentioning other swimmers in a blog is always necessary. For example, when people cross the Catalina Channel, few mention George Young, Penny Dean or the USA Swimming national team members. Similarly, when people cross the English Channel, few mention Petar Stoychev or others. I enjoy reading the accounts of their channel swims and never feel they are obliged to mention other swimmers.

    2. A squall came up in her swim 40 miles outside of Cuba. When it was first seen, it was 12 miles south of Diana and her team. Within 10-15 minutes, it was passing right by us. I was on the boat and feared for anyone in the water (Diana and her escort kayakers). We were surrounded by lightening and strong winds in the middle of the night. We had a group of experienced shark divers and mariners evacuate the swimmer and kayaker as soon as we knew the squall was headed in our direction. It was the most prudent decision to make as the flotilla was soon hit. Could some swimmers have remained in the water and kept on swimming? Certainly that was in the realm of possibility. However, I made the strong recommendation that was concurred by the shark divers and pilots to get everyone out of the water and hunker down during this time.

    When we hunkered down, our first thoughts were on the safety of everyone on boat. I have since encountered people who criticize Diana and her team in various ways, but at the time in the middle of the night with all hell breaking loose around us, my only thoughts were on the safety of everyone involved - especially since the primary escort boat sprung some sort of leak and her ballasts were been filled with water. We had crews out there pumping out water as best they could as we did not want an escort boat from going under. I have been out with the Farallon Islands Swimming Association in rough seas and all over the world, but this situation in a squall 40 miles from Cuba at night was quite hairy

    Although I am not sure most of you want to hear from me more about Diana's attempt. If you do, please ask questions and I will provide you my direct observations.

    I have seen comments online that a promoter should not be an observer. In this case, I was an observer who was reporting on Diana's swim as a reporter for the Daily News of Open Water Swimming. It was the same role that I served with Penny in Hawaii and the Cayman Islands. I documented Diana's swim as I would others while also reporting on it as best I could out in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. But these comments do raise a good point that I will address later in the day.

    Good luck to all in your own endeavors.

    Steven Munatones www.worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com Huntington Beach, California, U.S.A.

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member
    @munatones - When her crew chief has quotes like "Nobody in the world would even attempt this, but we did." (http://startingpoint.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/21/nyad-quits-swim-after-storm-jellyfish-stings-team-nyads-sollinger-says-swim-was-life-threatening/), that doesn't give much public perception to acknowledgement to Penny's attempt earlier this year.

    Also, the fact that it wasn't clearly reported until after the fact (there is a line from one of her blog posts - "Since it is not moving, they are now trying to find a path out of the storm. They have decided to begin moving north and west, close to the course that will take them to Key West anyways. Diana is safe, feeling strong and is now swimming again." http://www.diananyad.com/blog/squall-stationary), that doesn't speak highly to the honesty or transparency of her support crew, even though Diana herself was quoted as insisting on that transparency (these quotes also weren't published until she was pulled for the final time.

    To be fair, if news outlets were told this information, and they refused to report the facts correctly, then some of the blame lies on them. If the fact that she was temporarily pulled was left out of the report (it was reported very clearly last year when she was treated on her support flotilla before being allowed to resume the swim), then that's back on the crew.

  • heartheart San Francisco, CACharter Member
    Thank you, Steven, for your balanced and informed perspectives on the swim.
  • MunatonesMunatones Charter Member
    As an Observer and someone who sees one additional role as safety, I appreciate your comment heart. My official Observer report covers all aspects of the swim - at least what I personally witnessed. I will find the exact quote from Diana that clearly explains her respect for Penny Palfrey. It was reported by the Daily News of Open Water Swimming over the weekend. But I will take the blame for not reporting on Susie Maroney's successful swim in a shark cage from Cuba to Florida. However, I do not usually report on swims done in a shark cage due to the well-established protocols of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (of which I am the Chief Administrator). That being said, Susie Maroney's successful swim was noted in Diana's press conference. Susie's swim took her around 24 hours. 24 hours for a 103-mile swim. Besides myself, there are others in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame who believe that the use of the shark cage enabled Susie to swim faster than she otherwise would have without a shark cage.

    I personally told any reporter who asked what the situation was; my Observer's Report is clear. However, please keep in mind that Diana and her team were caught in the middle of 2 squalls. During part of the swim, her GPS and compasses did not work. In other words, she was escorted by pilots who had no modern navigational equipment and the skies were covered with clouds. When faced with a sinking escort boat, 2 squalls and other issues, I apologize for not providing all the information that is desired. But it was tough out there.

    From what I know, at least 23 people have attempted this swim, many in shark cages in the 1950s through 1970s. In a Swimming World Magazine interview in 2010, I explained why I think this swim was impossible. In my opinion and observers, there are too many variables to overcome, especially now that box jellyfish are so prevalent in the area.

    The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute researchers used an array of cameras to capture the great number of jellyfish and other marine life out there. Together with Dr. Yanagihara, they identified many. I thought it was fascinating that a marathon swimmer (Diana) was able to partner with a host of researchers in order to help increase the knowledge of jellyfish at least in this area. Their boat was anywhere from 500m - 2km ahead of Diana, taking photographs and identifying marine life throughout the swim. The medical staff from the University of Miami hospital were also learning about a variety of physiological responses to jellyfish stings. So from my perspective as an open water swimmer, it was a great experience to learn so much about the medical and marine biology fields while on a swim.

    Additionally, bobswims remarks that "I'm not sure I buy the swim was ended for the safety of the crew story. How is it people make it across in a dingy?"

    bobswims may not believe Diana's team or myself, but as the squall was headed in our direction, I had a serious conversation with the pilots and Luke Tipple about what to do if the escort boat went under. We discussed safety protocols and were working fast to make sure we make sure that everyone was safe. Other than the squall that hit the 2007 World Swimming Championships in Melbourne, this was the first time in a long time that I was seriously worried about the safety of people on a marathon swims. We were in a position where safety would not be coming to our aid for several hours. As for people who crossed in a dingy as bobswims mentions, all I can say is that I would never, ever take that chance and that for every Cuban who ever made it to Florida in a dingy, I am sure there were hundreds of others who did not.

    Steven Munatones www.worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com Huntington Beach, California, U.S.A.

  • MunatonesMunatones Charter Member
    bobswims also comented "...60 people in 5 boats makes a circus under any imaginable marathon swimming rules." While I acknowledge that swims in the Catalina Channel and English Channel are done with only one boat, there are many instances of marathon swimmers being accompanied by more than 2 boats. This is especially true in long swims or swims that are done for the first time or in extreme conditions.

    Can an EC, CC or Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association representative answer this question: "Are there restrictions in the number of escort boats that can be used in a crossing either (a) in the EC, CC or SB, or (b) elsewhere?

    If it can be done (outside the EC, CC or SB), I always recommend at least 2 escort boats for unprecedented swims or swims done in extreme conditions. When I did my own unprecedented swims, I always rounded up enough money to have at least 3 boats. This was not done for ego; it was done for safety. For me, it was important to have more than 1-2 boats in unchartered waters. Diana feels the same way, but if you prefer only 1 escort boat, that is perfectly OK. But in extreme conditions or unprecedented swims, I prefer to have at least 3 boats, each filled with different specialists and others to handle different responsibilities. Diana's team included 4 shark divers, 3 physicians, 4 researchers, a number of kayakers, 2 mariners and friends with other responsibilities. Penny's team was much smaller. This does not mean that Diana was wrong and Penny was right. It just means that the 2 women approach a swim differently.

    For Penny, she has arguably the greatest escort kayaker/paddler alive (Jeff Kozlovich of Hawaii) at her side. Jeff, an experienced lifeguard from Oahu and an outstanding endurance athlete in his own right, can paddle diligently for days non-stop and was very willing to paddle for Penny for however long it takes. But Jeff is unique and special. Diana does not have a Jeff, but she did have other paddlers who are good in 2-3 hour shifts.

    SledDriver brings up an excellent point regarding the box jellyfish. However, I also know of the extensive research that Dr. Yanagihara has been conducting on the box jellyfish - and remedies for stings. Her solution is remarkable and is now licensed by a commercial firm for global distribution. With the global proliferation of jellyfish, her remedies will be successful, not only for marathon swimmers but for also those beach-goers who get stung around the world. Some swimmers use SeaSafe or Ocean Care Solutions or other ointments - Diana uses Dr. Yanagihara's solution.

    IronMike writes, "I have no problem with what DN is doing except for the fact she's calling it marathon swimming." When Penny Palfrey swims with a stinger suit, it is called a marathon swim. In my opinion, when Diana swims with a stinger suit, it can also be called a marathon swim. They both swam under the same rules and they both were pulled from the water by their crews. I believe (although I would have to check my notes) that Diana swam 31 miles before she was pulled out in the squall. A 31-mile swim in the open ocean qualifies as a marathon swim. Then when she got back in the water, she swam another 19+ miles before the second squall hit. That distance (independent of the first swim) can also be called a marathon swim. Since many leaders of the marathon swimming world judged stinger suits to be legal (worn by Penny and Diana), I am not sure why this swim cannot be described as a marathon swim. Of course, the fact that neither Penny or Diana made it, simply means that both attempts were unsuccessful and the case is moot.

    bobswims, IronMike and others bring up good points and valid observations and opinions. I simply have a different perspective. It is certainly enjoyable to listen to everyone's conversations and opinions. And Diana likes to do so too for she greatly respects open water swimmers. She knows what each of you goes through and she is the first to admit that she hates swimming in cold water. I have spent time with her, as I have with Penny Palfrey and others in the marathon swimming world. She speaks no ill-will of anyone. She had a dream to swim from Cuba to Florida and she spent a lot of her own money to realize her dream. Her attempts did not result in success and she is very disappointed. She would have loved to jump in, swim across and get out in a regular swimsuit. She made a huge investment of her time and resources - as many of you all do for your own swims. But she was not successful - a stinger suit did not help, a 5-boat flotilla did not help, weather forecasts did not help. She simply gave it everything she had.

    When I see an athlete like Diana or Penny or Stephen Redmond or many others who do not realize their dream swims, their disappointment is so palpable. It saddens me when they cannot achieve success because I know how much time, effort and money they have spent training.

    Steven Munatones www.worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com Huntington Beach, California, U.S.A.

  • AquaRobAquaRob Humboldt Bay, CACharter Member

    I believe (although I would have to check my notes) that Diana swam 31 miles before she was pulled out in the squall. A 31-mile swim in the open ocean qualifies as a marathon swim. Then when she got back in the water, she swam another 19+ miles before the second squall hit.

    Thanks for clearly stating that for us Steve. That fact seems to have largely escaped detection from the major media outlets covering the swim. Quick follow on question, how long was she on the boat? It seems like a pretty important detail seeing as the news promoted it as a non-stop effort and I'm assuming it was more than a 10 minute shark break a la the Cook Straight.
  • cloudelevencloudeleven Member
    edited August 2012
    Hi Steve,

    Why didn't her blog report that she was pulled out of the water during the first squall (after swimming the first 31 miles)? I didn't see it mentioned anywhere. This post talks about the squall but doesn't say she was pulled out. It gave me the impression she was in the water the whole time:


    Also, how long was she actually in the water vs. on a boat (before the swim was officially ended)? Her blog reports 41 hours in the water in one place and 58 hours swim time in another place:



    Thanks for your insight.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited August 2012
    Munatones said:

    When Penny Palfrey swims with a stinger suit, it is called a marathon swim. In my opinion, when Diana swims with a stinger suit, it can also be called a marathon swim. They both swam under the same rules and they both were pulled from the water by their crews. I believe (although I would have to check my notes) that Diana swam 31 miles before she was pulled out in the squall. A 31-mile swim in the open ocean qualifies as a marathon swim. Then when she got back in the water, she swam another 19+ miles before the second squall hit. That distance (independent of the first swim) can also be called a marathon swim. Since many leaders of the marathon swimming world judged stinger suits to be legal (worn by Penny and Diana), I am not sure why this swim cannot be described as a marathon swim.

    Because Steve, in a video posted to her own blog, she was physically hanging on the support boat during a feed.

    You know that's not allowed in a "marathon swim," right? As the observer, you must have noticed this, right?
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandAdmin
    Steve, I also have a number of intermingled questions and observations.

    On a macro level:

    This is the most high profile swim in the world this year. We all know this is due to successful media handling and a significant publicity machine. It is because of this that I think we feel so concerned, because we don't feel this swim (circus) represents marathon swimmers as we believe we act. Steve Redmond, whom you and I both know personally and admire, is the epitome of realising dreams, an average guy reaching for achieving the extraordinary. The people here are not in this case the general public who know little about marathon swimming. They/we are the heart of this sport, as we are pretty much all levels of ability and skill but not without knowledge, passion or concern for the sport. We can appreciate nuance and subtlety in these endeavours and the reporting of same.

    Some of these observations therefore you can't have an answer for, as you are not responsible for them.

    1: Touching the boat. NBC reported "Nyad was not allowed to touch or be touched by any of the support crews or vessels." Let's be honest here, in the video displayed, this is breaking what we see as the principle in-water rule. It certainly wasn't accidental. I have found no marathon swimmer who can defend this. It's too far. There is no justification even possible for this. It's the oldest rule. Broken.

    2: Swim criteria, aka rules. We all follow them, have to follow them. Before any swim new or established we all know what the rules are. It has repeatedly looked like Diana either makes up rules as she goes along, or announces what the rules were retrospectively. You and I discussed this last year after I said on my blog I was no longer interested in Diana Nyad's swims, due to obfuscation of what she attempting. Which, to be clear, is to heavily imply she is doing a single continuous swim, and then afterwards announces she was following stage swim rules. And diverts the detail of getting on the boat in media coverage. This may not be true, I may have this wrong. But here's the point; it's happened twice now. Each time the media and public (including me and many here) have believed or been led to believe that the swim is a single marathon swim. I have read people outside swimming who said she was going to do a continuous 40 to 72 hour swim. There's no indication of Diana getting on the boat during the swim. Instead just reports of how long the swim has been ongoing. The elapsed, swim and rest times don't line up. Also touching the boat overhangs everything. I see no answers.

    3: Along with clearly defined rules the other core element of everything we do is Independent Verification. Without it none of us have protection from false swim claims. With it each of us can celebrate the genuine efforts of each other. I do not understand what Verification could have been possible for DN's swim because there was, as mentioned, no clear understanding of what the rules, if any, were. (See the Touching the Boat point above). The Observer should be passionate and interested and knowledgeable. Everyone here would be lucky to have you as an Observer. I do not understand what the criteria for Independent Verification were for this swim.

    4. You say Diana "greatly respects open water swimmers". She solicited the "respectful" opinion of myself and others here for her blog on her heat drip nonsense. Yet when some swimmers did comment, they were attacked by her supporters. Not one of those supporters could identify as being a marathon swimmer. Yet Diana, having asked for this input, stayed quiet on the comments of notable marathons swimmers such as @DaveBarra and others and more importantly on the attacks by supporters on those who understood the subject under discussion. There was no respect there. Her teams claim of being the only ones to dream of this, as pointed out above still stands as highly disrespectful. Comments unreported weigh less than the Team Manager's public CNN interview where this was said along with the claim of a world record. Why does for example Diana & her team repeatedly compare the swim the English Channel? I found this one of the most offensive, because I know what EC rules are. This was an egregious insult to many Channel swimmers, not just the EC. Steve, I have heard off the record from a couple of globally respected & known swimmers who are appalled at this whole circus. And I use that word consciously. It's not a cabal of a few people here that are "internet fanatics".

    5: Three and half minutes and plus feeds? What the hell? And we're meant to take that seriously? Along with her blog's repeated frankly incorrect statements about hypothermia which many people here are expert on?

    6: The science, the jellyfish ID and sting remediation etc. All great. All potentially useful. Nothing to do with what we are concerned about, therefore irrelevant.

    Steve, are we purists and traditionalists here? Sure, some of us are. Some of us are proud of that. That's why this forum exists. To support, to foster community, to share the knowledge. I'm no good at swim politics, if I was I'd say nothing and probably benefit more from that. These are just the concerns of an average marathon swimmer.

    It's cool for people to do all kinds of swims, assisted, unassisted etc. What is NOT cool is to be misleading about the criteria or the type of swim. If DN does a differnt type of swim to what we do, that's cool. But do not mislead the public or us into believing that what you are doing is the same or comparable to what we do.

    I'm off to bed,



  • jgaljgal Member
    edited August 2012
    i whole-heartedly second everything said here by @loneswimmer. he's said everything i've been thinking, only better and in a much MUCH kinder fashion! especially this:

    Why does for example Diana & her team repeatedly compare the swim the English Channel? I found this one of the most offensive, because I know what EC rules are. This was an egregious insult to many Channel swimmers, not just the EC. Steve, I have heard off the record from a couple of globally respected & known swimmers who are appalled at this whole circus.

    i'm a channel swimmer, and i say that with pride. i also say this with pride: I AM APPALLED by diana being the current representative of MY sport. or, at least, the sport in which i have found a predominantly respectful, inspiring community. and because of this, somewhere along the line, i was placed into the category of 'purist' and 'traditionalist'. this makes zero sense to me. why is it, because i've followed the rules during my swims, i'm now a purist? i don't see myself as a purist. i see myself as an ordinary person who enjoys swimming and, out of respect to my fellow swimmers and my own personal dignity, follows the rules.

    my dad emailed me a link to a CNN article early on into her swim. and lately, friends of mine have asked if diana's swim will be my next challenge. i know they're all just being nice/joking around, but this is where my biggest issue lies with this swim. my dad and my friends represent the public, and the public is being completely deluded by what exactly constitutes a marathon swim. the blatant disregard of the rules by diana and her team is FINE; i truly couldn't care less if she follows the rules. what i care about is that, because of her unabashed self-promotion and completely deceptive advertising of what exactly she is doing, she is now synonymous with marathon swimming. go ahead and type it into google, see what you get.

    i'm frustrated that i have to constantly tell my friends that she's not following the rules set by the sport. i am embarrassed.

    i am not, however, embarrassed to be compared to ANY marathon swimmer who follows the rules. i don't care if they're 10 years old, 50, the slowest/fastest swimmer ever, or the worst stroke, or even the most annoying. if they follow the rules, they're an equal, and i respect them, and i hope they respect me. i love being a part of our community; that's what makes us so great. but to be lumped in with her crowd...it's just about the most insulting thing anybody could inadvertently do to me. for the reasons donal lists above. deception, lies, bullying, bending of the rules. it's not representation of our sport. i don't know what exactly it even is, but i'm not a part of that. and THAT is my contention with this whole thing.

  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    I agree that DN (and her team) haven't perhaps been as clear as they could have been about the details of the swim and the 'rules' they were following, but I also think that we shouldn't draw too straight a line between DN and the media output. I personally have had experience of some of the massive leaps that are made between press releases and media reports (put "Karen Throsby" and "Daily Mail" into Google and see...but please bear in mind I NEVER said any such thing and this nearly ruined research relationships developed over two years and severely affected my ability to disseminate the actual research findings). Once out there, these things are incredibly difficult to get corrected and take on a bit of a life of their own.

    I think that direct statements by her and her team (on the blog, in press releases, in unedited news statements) are fair game for discussion, and it certainly seems like there's some unfortunate obfuscation in some of those. I'd want to be more circumspect about indirect media reporting though. I agree that it's disappointing that this swim has become representative (for the moment at least), and you could argue that DN is partly responsible for this in that she has courted the press so whole-heartedly. But she is not responsible for all of the inaccurate content.
  • @munatones As the Official observer what were the rules you read out to DN before she started swimming?

    Obviously what DN has done is amazing no matter what the rules, even if there were no guidelines etc. & the Main stream media is always looking for the headline.

    I'm sure as observer you can set the record straight.

    Thanks for your input.
  • IronMikeIronMike Arlington, VACharter Member
    Steve, I said what I said about her calling it a marathon swim because if her hanging on to her boat. It had nothing to do about her stinger suit, which I'd forgotten about until you wrote up your comments above.

    I appreciate your view and your work as observer for her (not to mention ALL your work for OW swimming). But she did not do a marathon swim. Her "marathon swim" ended when she touched the boat.

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

  • IronMikeIronMike Arlington, VACharter Member
    edited August 2012
    Additionally, she didn't tell the world that she was attempting to swim the 103 miles in a series of "short" 31-mile swims. She and her machine stated 103 miles non-stop. When she touched the boat, her marathon swim was over regardless of the distance she had swum up to that point. There is no difference between what she did and what all these triathletes do when they skip laps, walk on sandbars and take breaks on kayaks (read my latest race report on my blog), except for the length swum prior to breaking The Rule.

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    edited August 2012
    The swim, media and reporting probably would have gone differently had Diana not had to court sponsorship so heavily. (Totally necessary unless you are independently wealthy!)

    With such sponsorship, I would imagine she felt quite pulled between being "a swimmer" and being "a product".
  • MandaiMandai Charter Member
    It took me a while to get a better picture of the whole issue (here in Southeast Asia you don't hear or read a word about this swim, though S. Redmond's swim was reported) and despite earlier sceptism about the strong criticism I got to admit that the points raised by loneswimmer and others here are quite valid. A real pity that a great idea and great effort went so wrong.
  • MunatonesMunatones Charter Member
    I will do my best to answer everyone's concerns.

    1. As an Observer, it is my role to observe and document. If I was an Observer for the CSA, CS&PF, CCSF, SBCSA, FINA or any other generally accepted marathon swimming organization, then my role as an Observer is to observe, judge and document. In the world of professional marathon swimming with FINA, if an athlete breaks the rules (i.e., receives 2 yellow cards or 1 red card), then I am obliged to immediately stop the swimmer and demand that they leave the water (i.e., we pull them into the boat and place a DQ after their name in the official results). I do not know if the CSA, CS&PF, CCSF, or SBCSA does the same (i.e., immediately pull the swimmer if any rules are broken. [Side note: can a representative of each organization tell me what happens if a rule is broken? That is, is it the obligation of the pilot and observer to immediately pull the swimmer as we do in FINA? I honestly do not know this answer.] But on these long expedition swims, I observe and document; I do not pull a swimmer. I guess many of you would pull a swimmer, but I simply observe and document.
    2. The rules that I discussed with Diana are the same rules that I discussed with all the solo swims and relay swims that I go on. The exception to these rules is the stinger suit. This was a very key issue that I surveyed key marathon swimming representatives about. Many of these representatives are members of this forum. They all received the background information and my personal opinion of stinger suits. The survey was done in strict confidence, but I was very surprised that an overwhelming number of EC, CC and SBC swimmers voted that a stinger suit was acceptable. This issue came up not necessarily only for Diana, but also for Penny Palfrey. Therefore, the exception was told to Diana in person, on the telephone and via email.
    3. Diana competed on the professional marathon swimming circuit and attempted the EC in the 1970s, so the rules are not unknown to her.
    4. It was clearly noted in the Observer's Report what happened. I have copied a bit of information below. This information is what I know and what I observed. I was out in the Caribbean Sea doing my best as a volunteer.
    9:43 pm Sunday, August 19
    Diana Nyad is swimming at 9:43 pm on Sunday evening at 48 strokes per minute on the right side of her primary escort boat the Voyager as reports of squalls were first heard and a squall protocol was discussed. Nyad was to be placed alongside a inflatable rib with 2 shark divers, observer and a pilot in order for her to continue swimming. But this idea was nixed for safety reasons.
    Her course is due north.
    Distance traveled: 30.4 statute miles
    Destination: Key West in the state of Florida.
    11:43 pm Sunday, August 19
    Tremendous thunderstorms continue to be seen all around the boat in a 360° panorama. Voyager had 11 people onboard. Nyad continued to swim in the increasingly turbulent seas with streaks of lightening closing in, howling winds, with every next stroke.
    12:13 am Monday, August 20
    Diana Nyad stopped swimming at 12:13 am on Monday evening. In an emergency action, all the escort boats were asked to come in close. She was pulled inside the sinking Voyager in the middle of a squall after 31 hours 30 minutes in the water and the kayakers were asked to board the other escort boats. Due to the dangerous situation, Nyad and 3 kayakers were placed inside the escort boats to wait out the storms. Lightening strikes were seen all around the flotilla. The Voyager started to take on water and was sinking. Most of the crew, including Nyad, was evacuated to the other escort boats Quest and Sentimental Journey. A skeleton crew was left on the Voyager to attempt to keep the vessel afloat. The boats then spread out in formation but still within eye/radio contact as was the recommendation of the local mariners. Location is documented by GPS.
    Her course is due north.
    Distance traveled: 30.4 statute miles
    Destination: Key West in the state of Florida.
    1:43 am – 6:43 am Monday, August 20
    Diana Nyad is left on the escort boat Quest with other members of her escort crew to wait out the squall. The Voyager is being salvaged as the skeleton crew using pumps throughout the night. Boats have to continue to motor into the waves and cannot simply float in such turbulent seas. Therefore, all boats move increasingly away from the point where Nyad was evacuated. As the squall passes over the course of the early morning, the flotilla moves back to the GPS location noted at 12:13 am.
    7:33 am Monday, August 20
    Diana Nyad started swimming again at 7:33 am on Monday morning at 50 strokes per minute on the right side of her primary escort boat the Voyager.

    I can write more, but really Diana, her crew and myself were stuck in a squall in the Caribbean. I have been on hundreds of swims, but I have never experienced anything like this. Some reporters may think it was not anything (much or dangerous), but my opinion differs. Her crew was discussing rules, and I said the rules are secondary to safety. We pulled Diana not because she wanted to be pulled, but we overruled her wishes because we were concerned for her safety and the safety of others. Was this the issue discussed in the media? Heck, I don't think so but I was out in the middle of the Caribbean in a squall on a sinking boat in the middle of the night with 4 people (swimmer + 3 kayakers) in the water. Her crew knows exactly what was being discussed and the measures we took to make sure everyone was safe.

    I apologize for being curt to anyone, but I have had a lack of sleep over the last week and I can attempt to answer better later. Perhaps it is easier if a representative of this forum calls me and I can answer all their questions and then this person can inform everyone? I am just exhausted due to travel and the number of hours I have been awake.

    Thank you very much for your understanding.

    Also, the information above is the copyrighted content of this blog so it should not be cut-and-pasted to other publications without the permission of the owners of this blog.

    Steven Munatones www.worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com Huntington Beach, California, U.S.A.

  • Thanks Steve, that clears it up for me.
    Very different to what I interpreted in the media.
    ie. 40-60hrs continuous swimming, versus 31.5hrs.
    Seems DN was up against all the elements, 31.5hrs travelled 30.4miles. Strong currents on top of everything else.
    Still a very impressive swim for anyone, especially at 60+years.
    The research on Jellies will be very interesting.
  • jgaljgal Member
    What would have happened if she got back in after this squall passed and swam all the way to Florida? Would we even be hearing about her time spent on the boat? Would that have been deemed a hush hush piece of information? Based on all the other discrepancies we've seen and discussed, I bet it would.

    Recently, a number of swimmers were pulled just shy of the French coast in the Channel due to fog...completely out of their control, but they didn't just float around off shore and wait to get back in and swim when it was safer. The swims had to be aborted, and it was by no fault of the swimmer. These swimmers, boat crew and observers stuck by the standards set by the sport of marathon swimming, even though I am certain it pained a good few of them.

    Once you start muddling what constitutes as Rule and what constitutes as 'hmm, well in X circumstances...' the swim enters controversial waters. Which is why, in ALL circumstances, it's just easier to follow the rules and respect the sport in which you are partaking.
  • MunatonesMunatones Charter Member
    jgal, my report was written (partly noted above) and based upon the actual situation. I did not change the information nor would have changed the information. The same thing happened to me last year when people did not believe my reports that stated that Penny Palfrey's crew did not slaughter sharks on her Cayman Islands swim of 2011. I was a volunteer in both these swims and it is unfortunate that some do not believe what I report.

    That being said, I am the first to admit that out in the Caribbean, at night, in a squall with 60 people in small boats, with 4 people in the water, strong winds and whitecaps, that the last thing that I was thinking about was what the land-based media was reporting or what others were thinking. Many people would have made different decisions, but at the end of the day her swim was an unsuccessful swim and she did not achieve her goals. I feel sorry for her and every other swimmer whose swim does not end in success.

    I do not believe any news report stated anything but an unsuccessful swim. These "what if..." discussions will continue but news reports stated it was an aborted swim.

    I went on public record (in Swimming World Magazine and elsewhere) in 2010 and 2011 that I did not think this swim was doable. But I would have greatly appreciated the effort if Penny or Diana would have proved me wrong. Perhaps someone else in the future will prove me wrong...and I will be among the first to congratulate them and write an article about their swim.

    CraigMoz, the information and research on the jellyfish was extremely interesting. The scientists rigged an array of cameras that captured images of marine life in visible and invisible light and the identification of marine life throughout the swim was fascinating. The protocols and products that will result from this research will help many ocean-goers who get stung in the future.

    Steven Munatones www.worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com Huntington Beach, California, U.S.A.

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited August 2012
    Steve, I've read through all your responses a couple times now, and I still see no mention of the boat-touching.

    To be clear: We're not talking about the 20+ hours she spent ON the boat during the storm, which theoretically is allowable under stage swim rules (even if said stage swim was being promoted as an "unassisted marathon swim"). We're talking about her physically hanging on the boat during feeds under sunny skies, which was captured on video for all to see.

    A few very simple questions:

    - Do you agree that intentional physical contact with a support vessel (IPCSV) merits disqualification under the rules of marathon swimming?

    - Was IPCSV one of the rules you discussed with Diana before the swim?

    - If so, was she understood to be adhering to this rule, or not?

    - If she was not following this rule, why wasn't this disclosed before, during, or after the swim?

    - As official observer, did you personally see Diana touch, hang, and push off the boat, as everyone who watched the video did?

    - If you did witness it, did you note it in your official report?
  • AquaRobAquaRob Humboldt Bay, CACharter Member
    edited August 2012

    really? c'mon... one does not simply 'discover' 10 more hours of their swim. That's either a major pile of bullshit or a phenomenal math error
  • IronMikeIronMike Arlington, VACharter Member
    If there was a discussion of the rules prior to the swim, as I believe there was (I believe Steve M), then the minute she touched the boat the swim should have been stopped. (Side note: I hope that when I'm 62, I can swim straight for 31 hours.)

    I agree with @jgal that if DN had made it to FL, then we wouldn't have heard about the squall. We also might not have seen the youtube boat touch video.

    And I still go back to a simple fact. Don't call something a marathon swim if it doesn't follow commonly-held rules. I think Steve M said it best when he said "But on these long expedition swims..."

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited August 2012
    JenA said:

    The swim, media and reporting probably would have gone differently had Diana not had to court sponsorship so heavily.
    With such sponsorship, I would imagine she felt quite pulled between being "a swimmer" and being "a product".

    @PennyPalfrey had to raise a bunch of money & sponsorships for her Cuba-Florida attempt, and no doubt felt enormous pressure to be successful. Unlike Diana, she played by the rules and was straightforward and honest in her publicity. To me, that indicates the problem isn't the pressure of sponsorship; the problem is Diana, her team, and their tendency to elide facts in favor of a better "story."
    KarenT said:

    I agree that DN (and her team) haven't perhaps been as clear as they could have been about the details of the swim and the 'rules' they were following, but I also think that we shouldn't draw too straight a line between DN and the media output.

    I'm not inclined to give Diana a pass on the inaccurate media reporting - because Diana is herself a member of the media. She was a long-time reporter for NPR and other outlets. The incredible publicity surrounding her swims wouldn't be possible without her vast connections in the American media. She knows very well what is being reported on her behalf, and makes no effort to correct it.

    Earlier in this thread @heart said: "I surmise there's some serious history there that I'm too new to appreciate." And there is. She has a long history of making deceptive, misleading statements about her swims. As recently as last year, she was still claiming to be the first woman to have swum around Manhattan. This only stopped when NYC Swim started systematically requesting corrections from journalists she misled.

    No less a swimming eminence than Doc Counsilman once described her as a "phony-baloney promoter...a very mediocre swimmer with a very good publicist." That was in 1979! She's been rubbing people the wrong way for decades.
  • Over on ABC news, they had this quote. Still, a hell of a long way to swim at 62.

    "Nyad was not allowed to touch or be touched by any of the support crews or vessels."

  • MunatonesMunatones Charter Member
    I believe an Observer's Report is a private document between a swimmer and the organization that governs the swim. I am not trying to hide anything, because I am not disagreeing with the statements that are made (e.g., touching boat, touching handler). I am simply telling you that when I was out there, I documented what I saw and experienced.

    And my major take-away from Diana's swim was different from others, including Diana. Everyone seems to talk about the definition of a marathon swim and did she touch the boat or be touched (yes), but I was on a boat for days and was very concerned about getting everyone out of the water and on the boats back to shore safely.

    Honestly, I had never been in a squall at night on a sinking boat with 4 people in the water 40 miles from shore with waves and winds. While everyone was concerned about rules and what was reported in the media, I was...scared and concerned about others and myself. I am not trying to elude anything or keep anything hush-hush, but I had no idea everyone was getting upset on land when I was on a small boat on a big storming sea.

    Yes, rules and media reporting are important, but frankly, I had other things on my mind.

    You are all correct. I saw what I saw and it was no different from what you saw on videos. But that information was documented, not hidden.

    Steven Munatones www.worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com Huntington Beach, California, U.S.A.

  • smithsmith O-H-I-OMember
    edited August 2012
    Regarding Evmo's comment:

    I remember when Counsilman said that (I'm an older fellow in my late 40s). He also went on to say something along the lines that any swimmer can catch a current, and and a "real" marathon swimmer like John Kinsella could do what Nyad does with one hand tied behind his back.

    I remember being pretty surprised when Counsilman said that because he was a prototypical Midwesterner who was prone to understatement instead of hyperbole. In context, however, Counsilman swam the English Channel at age 58 while suffering from the onset of Parkinson's Disease. Nyad failed at the Channel 3 times. Truth be told, she failed under much different conditions, but a swimmer like Des Renford never failed at a Channel attempt, and many of those crossings were done under the worst possible conditions. He didn't really start swimming until around the age of 40.

    In the end, I think the long standing issue with Diana Nyad is that she's a very accomplished athlete who has done some great things, but she spends so much time selling herself to the public that it detracts from other swimmers who are far more accomplished. In sports history, with the exception of someone like Muhammad Ali, the best don't really have to tell you how great they are because they already know it.

    Lactate is for wimps.

  • @Munatones Wondering when the DNOWS is going to report on the facts of the DN swim.

    Because this is just comical. Following extracts from DN's blog.

    "The disappointment of exiting the ocean yesterday, after 42 hours of once again attempting to swim from Cuba to Florida, weighs heavily on my heart.

    The first go was 1978, as a prime-time athlete, age 28. Unpredicted fierce winds whipped up and blew us west.

    Perhaps ironically, that time spent in water was 41 hours, 49 minutes. This time it was 51 hours 5 minutes."

    So it was 42 hours oh no it was 51hr 5mins.
    Oh at last the record is set straight.

    "Open Water Swimming authority Steve Munatones has issued a correction on Diana's total number of hours swum in her Cuba attempt.

    Diana spent a total of 51hrs, 5mins in her Herculean effort to survive deadly jellyfish, large sharks, life-threatening storms.

    At age 62, this was the longest time she ever spent in the water."

    Mmmmm seems to be a minor detail missing, like Diana spent 31.5hrs swimming, then was pulled out for safety, then continued to swim after X hours, for another X hours.

    You can only laugh really. Pity cause it was still a good effort.
This discussion has been closed.