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?


  • heartheart San Francisco, CACharter Member
    I've been following forum posts here about Diana Nyad's swim and didn't feel comfortable posting anything, being a fairly recent inductee into the marathon community, and having a perspective on this that will probably be unpopular here. The little that I've done - 10k, 11 miles - was done under strict EC rules, in which I take a sort of Spartan pride. And I think that there are a lot of excellent reasons to follow EC rules in a race setting or when one is doing an established, sanctioned swim like a channel crossing.

    But when someone does a distance that has not been attempted before, and that relatively few people are likely to attempt, I don't really see a point in raining on their parade. Especially if we're talking about a 62-year-old woman who is planning on swimming 103 miles. Streamer? Sleeves? A swim cap that makes espresso drinks and sings showtunes? All the power to her! If anyone in the marathon community plans to do the same distance under EC rules, I'll be happy for them, too. I'm just curious about this need to police and monitor someone else's efforts in such an individual setting, and given that this person is in the water, at night, as I type this, I didn't feel comfortable being silent about this while this swim is being taken apart here.

    So, I might be a lone voice of support in an ocean (pun not intended) of critique, but I'm actually rooting for her and hoping she succeeds.
  • MandaiMandai Charter Member
    edited August 2012
    Well said heart. I was excited when this forum came up and learnt a lot from the felllow swimmers. But somehow this whole purist talk has got way more prominence than it should have from my perspective. Give us liberals some space :)

    As for the streamer, I saw something similar used for the Tsugaru crossing (under water thingy). Personally, I don't think it is much different to using a kayak, so neither genius nor artificial aid.

    All fingers crossed for Diana.
  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    It wasn't my goal to rain on Diana's parade. I was hoping we could separate the idea from the swimmer/swim. I was interested in the discussion, not the judgement.

    I wish Diana all the best as well.
  • heartheart San Francisco, CACharter Member
    edited August 2012
    I hear you, JenA... and I would be interested in the discussion as well. My experience here has been, however, that whenever an aspect of Diana's swim in particular is presented for discussion, the resulting discussion is heaps of judgment. I surmise there's some serious history there that I'm too new to appreciate, but this time I decided to say something. My comment was not addressed at you personally.

    To address the point, I imagine the streamer would be only as helpful as the pilot's navigation skills, I guess. From the swim map, unless I'm seriously misunderstanding something, it seems they're circumventing the direct line (or off-course.) Why might that be? Is it poor navigation, or the same currents that fought Penny a few weeks ago?

  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    @heart @Mandai
    I think you will find that your opinions are respected and valued here much more than opposing opinions are on the DN blog... although said opinions were solicited by DN herself. I hope I speak for the entire marathonswimmers.org population when I say that.

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    A swim cap that makes espresso and sings showtunes? Now that's just taking it one step too far!
  • BillBill Member
    I'm all for the directional streamers. No different than having a kayak beside you.
  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    Wouldn't the streamers have a variable direction?

    You know that "V"-line of ripples that boats cut through water, and depends on speed?

    Wouldn't the direction of the streamer be more influenced by that than the direction of the boat?
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited August 2012
    Niek said:

    Were I see something wrong according to Channel rules is Diana touching the boat.
    In the YouTube video http://youtu.be/u-PWDWMscC4 starting at 0:56 she is touching/holding the boat and than pushing herself forward from the boat!

    Wow. Just... wow.

    Apparently @Munatones is on board as the "observer." It will be interesting to hear his thoughts. Though, it remains unclear what the purpose of an "observer" is in a case such as this.
  • MandaiMandai Charter Member
    I fullly agree with that David.
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Mem​ber
    @evmo I've never seen a water-based circus before. Apparently I haven't missed much.

    No swim that I know of, anywhere, under any rule exception, would allow this. That is the final sign of a swim that's over. That is the ultimate no-go area for us. (I was worried after getting run over by a boat that I'd be disqualified just because of the contact).

    When did purist or traditionalist become dirty words?


  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    I think even adventure swimming has rules, or at least a couple of them? Apparently we need a new category of swim, or swim-like activity, in which you cannot be disqualified, no matter what you do. When there are no standards of conduct, what is left? I don't get it.
  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    Purist and traditionalist aren't dirty words. :) They're totally honourable in my book! I figured the discussion from the purists would be more interesting than the discussion from the sport-morphers, that's all. :)

    Personally, I wonder if gymnasts argue the balance beam should be wider for safety reasons, or if basketball nets should be lowered for those uninterested in adding jumping as part of their training. :-)
  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    I think, though, there's a difference between an accidental touch, a deliberate touch, and a self-disqualifying touch.

    On my EC attempt, I accidentally touched the boat. I'd dropped something in the water, and was trying to get it before it sank. It started to get pulled under the boat, and I put my hand on the boat so I wouldn't get scraped by it as I dove under the water.

    I think it's easy to get cognitively mushy after many hours.
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Mem​ber
    @JenA I cannot imagine what happens in this video wouldn't be a DQ in an EC swim.. All our training, all our history and most importantly, all our rules stress this fact.


  • bobswimsbobswims OregonCharter Member
    When I first saw the streamer I had to laugh. It looked just so ridiculous, but then I thought about it. In my Catalina crossing my daughter was in a kayak for the first 2 hours and 1/2 hour at the finish. Other than that no swimmers, no paddle boarders etc. (As some know this was not my plan). But I think a streamer would be so much more help than someone in the water with you When I was swimming in the dark alone I began realizing I was venturing a bit too far from the boat. Each time I came out of my trance I was further & further away. Finally I found myself so far out i did not feel comfortable - and that takes some doing. I mentioned this to my crew and the pilot said he would shine a light on me when I got past a certain point. It worked terrificly. On one occasion he pointed it directly in front of me and it helped me get back on course. Frankly it would have been helpful to have that light to follow all night. Acceptable? Does the streamer have lights on it? If it does where can I get one?

    Also during the night I swam into the bow of the boat. Do you see a trend? It really woke me up. I was very worried it would disqualify me and made sure I swam away from the boat and did not push off with any part of my body. If I had been 40 hours into a swim I'm not sure I could have prevented my natural reaction to push away from a boat that ran into me (at least that what it felt like although I don't think the boat was moving). Nevertheless grabbing and pushing off is an automatic disqualification in my book. Just as surprising was that appeared no one in her entourage seemed at all concerned. It appeared that they were instructed not to worry if she did, or that they have never been on a marathon swim before.

    Does anyone believe that this was the only time she touched or pushed off the boat and that it was unfortunate that someone videoed it? In a training video it showed someone helping her put on the head piece to her jelly suit. As someone pointed out the way it was done would violate EC rules. One could argue that DN has always broken the rules of what a person can accomplish, but if she has created her on rules for the swim, she should at least identify them. Hopefully SM as an official observer is documenting the rules she is applying to her swim.

    Finally, can I get one of those caps that makes espresso but without the show tunes feature?
  • 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 IrelandCharter Mem​ber
    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 BostonCharter 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 IrelandCharter Mem​ber
    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.
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