No-Fear Fabricator Defies Sharks, Bermuda Triangle, and The Truth

Detail from Minneapolis Star, 19 May 1977.

Last night, a journalist researching Diana Nyad asked me if Nyad ever claimed to have completed an English Channel crossing. I couldn’t remember her saying so, but I recalled her walking right up to the edge.

In a 1977 Minneapolis Star article, Nyad begins a discourse on hallucinations with, “Last summer, when I was swimming the English Channel.” She doesn’t mention that she made three unsuccessful attempts “last summer” and didn’t plan on returning.

Earlier in the article, the author, Rob Tanenbaum, writes about “the perilous English Channel, which [Nyad] has done twice.”

Both statements leave escape hatches. Nyad doesn’t say she finished. Though Tanenbaum does — assuming “done” means she swam “shore to shore” in “squeaky clean, ethical fashion” — Nyad could claim he misquoted her.

The article contains plenty of other lies, including

  • she was still working on her PhD at NYU.
  • she was an Olympic-caliber swimmer.
  • she was “rated the top marathon swimmer in the world.”

But what demonstrates Nyad’s greatness as a con artist — along with her more recent success convincing the press, public, and a handful of marathon swimmers that she swam from Cuba to Florida under her own power — are the first three words of the article’s title: “No-fear swimmer.”

Continue reading →

Nyad News: One Bad Title And Three New Festivals

SwimSwam’s mistitled article

“WOWSA, MSF Disagree On Nyad Swim Ratification Ahead Of Upcoming Biopic”

The Marathon Swimmers Federation (MSF) has not publicly declared a stance on ratifying Diana Nyad’s Cuba–Florida crossing. Two members of MSF’s core group posted strong opinions about the subject on Facebook. But until MSF issues a statement, SwimSwam’s headline remains erroneous and misleading.

No need to tell them, though — they already know (see the article’s comments section).

Nyad at three new festivals in October

And don’t forget that Nyad has three showings left (tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday) at the Toronto International Film Festival, then will open the Hamptons International Film Festival on October 5 and play again on October 6.

Update 14 Sep 2023: Added the Hamptons International Film Festival October 6 Nyad screening, and a link to the festival’s Film Guide.

Sexist Ageist Homophobes: How The NYAD Directors And Others Attack Diana’s Detractors

They use name-calling and dismissiveness. Besides a well-funded PR campaign, that’s all they’ve got.

Image: Graphic based on Graham’s Hierarchy of Disagreement.jpg by Loudacris (originally from, CC BY 3.0.

Over the last several years, I’ve gathered indisputable evidence of Diana Nyad’s five-decade history of lies. I’ve also found multiple instances of her minimizing and outright stealing the accomplishments of other women.

The Nyad filmmakers can’t concede Nyad’s history of deceit because doing so would acknowledge their blunder.

Instead, they and others respond to Nyad’s detractors with name-calling and dismissiveness.
Continue reading “Sexist Ageist Homophobes: How The NYAD Directors And Others Attack Diana’s Detractors”

New Evidence That Steven Munatones’ Nonsensical Openwaterpedia Vandalism Makes Sense

Steven Munatones used Openwaterpedia to do more than ratify Diana Nyad’s crossing and make her look like the best marathon swimmer of the 1970s. He fabricated records for himself and another marathon swimmer who had no idea what Steven was up to.

Diana Nyad, Bonnie Stoll, and Steven Munatones, during a phone conference at Munatones’ home in Huntington Beach, CA, on September 10, 2013. They attempted to quell doubts about Nyad’s crossing. Notwithstanding Nyad’s declarations of success, the attempt failed. Sound familiar? Complete clip here. Via Reuters/Pond5.

Almost six months ago, the World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) announced an investigation into my allegations that Steven Munatones vandalized Openwaterpedia to benefit Diana Nyad.

In an earlier post, I wrote that WOWSA’s investigation likely took a week or two. Had WOWSA exonerated Munatones, they’d have said so.

Instead, the organization appears to have made a deal with Steven: If you leave quietly, we won’t publish our findings.

WOWSA couldn’t continue functioning with a co-owner they knew had falsified thousands of Openwaterpedia pages to benefit a swimmer he revered.

So, on May 18, WOWSA’s three owners — Steven Munatones, Antonio Argüelles, and Quinn Fitzgerald — dissolved the company by filing a Certificate of Termination with the California Secretary of State.

They also signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement; we won’t see a report any time soon.

Absent WOWSA’s findings, here are more examples of Steven using Openwaterpedia to fabricate documentation, including multiple records for a body of water no one has ever crossed.

First, though, let’s turn to a more familiar channel:
Continue reading “New Evidence That Steven Munatones’ Nonsensical Openwaterpedia Vandalism Makes Sense”

New Lies, Old Lies, And Movie News From Nyad’s “How She Does It” Interview

A two-month-old interview presents Diana Nyad just before she began trying to undo her lies. In fact, she takes some of her standard fabrications and makes them even more outrageous.

Investor Karen Finerman interviewed Diana in June for the How She Does It podcast. The episode went up Sunday. Here are the highlights, including some scoops about the movie.
Continue reading “New Lies, Old Lies, And Movie News From Nyad’s “How She Does It” Interview”

After Biopic Announcement, Diana Nyad Begins Covering Up Lies

With a month to go before screenings of NYAD begin, she tries to hide her lies and undo five decades of deceit.

By the time she’d reached her twenties, Diana Nyad knew she was worthy of a blockbuster. “I’ve written a screenplay based on my life,” she told the Miami Herald in 1978. “It’s kind of like Rocky. And the happy ending is the Cuba swim.”

After 45 years, Nyad’s Hollywood fantasy is about to come true. Nyad — starring four-time Oscar nominee Annette Bening and two-time Oscar recipient Jodie Foster, directed by Oscar winners Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi — begins screening at festivals next month.

Continue reading “After Biopic Announcement, Diana Nyad Begins Covering Up Lies”

Washington Post Sportswriter Makes The Wrong Call Again

In a recent Facebook post, Diana Nyad lauds Sally Jenkins’ new book, The Right Call: What Sports Teach Us About Work and Life. But Jenkins missed the lesson about con artists.

Respected journalist Sally Jenkins has a blind spot for charismatic frauds.

Granted, I come to that conclusion based on a sample size of two, but let me explain.

Continue reading “Washington Post Sportswriter Makes The Wrong Call Again”

Nyad Verses Nyad

Diana Nyad made my day yesterday. In an interview with Sanjay Gupta, she corrected him in a way that shows she or someone close to her follows the Nyad Fact Check site.

Image from Diana Nyad’s June 2023, 2017, Facebook post about her appearance on Gupta’s podcast.

During the latest episode of CNN’s “Chasing Life,” Gupta recalls how Nyad marks the time during long swims:

You’d sing songs. And if I remember correctly, ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ 2000 times was eight hours and 45 minutes.

Dr. Gupta has a good memory (or a good researcher) because that’s just what Nyad said at TEDX-Berlin in 2012.

But Nyad interrupts to correct him: “1000 times,” she says, “nine hours and 45 minutes.”

Nyad has claimed that, too, always preceding it by saying that she sings the song exactly the way Janis did:

Continue reading “Nyad Verses Nyad”

SwimSwam Brings Nyad’s ‘Eventual Comeuppance’ A Little Closer

SwimSwam Magazine and Riley Overend’s “Open Water Swimmers Have Mixed Feelings About New ‘Nyad’ Biopic Coming To Netflix” makes a couple of wrong turns but takes Diana Nyad skepticism seriously.

What I Loved About The Article

It’s a significant step toward what one legit best-of-the-’70s marathon swimmer called Nyad’s “eventual comeuppance.” I’m grateful SwimSwam was willing to risk Nyad’s wrath by publishing it.  And I appreciate all the time and effort journalist Riley Overend devoted to researching and writing the piece.

Other than a few 2013 articles just after Nyad’s crossing, this is only the second by someone outside of the marathon swimming community who takes Nyad skeptics seriously.

Continue reading “SwimSwam Brings Nyad’s ‘Eventual Comeuppance’ A Little Closer”

A Letter To Diana Nyad Prompts The Doctoring Of Another Document

Steven Munatones distributed a significantly altered and abbreviated version of the World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) report on Diana Nyad’s Cuba-Florida crossing, but he presented it as complete.

Earlier this month, I sent Diana Nyad a letter. It addressed questions about her Cuba–Florida crossing and how she might want to clear those up before the release of her biopic.

I copied the letter to 60 other people — journalists, folks involved with the film, representatives of swimming organizations, and her most ardent supporter in the marathon swimming community, Steven Munatones.

About a week after Munatones received the letter, he rode to Nyad’s rescue, just like he did when he doctored her Openwaterpedia entry to retroactively and illegitimately ratify her Cuba–Florida crossing.
Continue reading “A Letter To Diana Nyad Prompts The Doctoring Of Another Document”