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.

This new rescue operation arrived via an email — subject line, “Daniel Slosberg on Diana Nyad” — with a doctored document attached. “I felt obliged to respond and share my position,” Munatones writes to an unknown number of recipients of my biopic letter. He goes on to provide a brief C.V. along with his usual defenses of Nyad’s Cuba-Florida crossing.

Then, he mentions the included document, which he represents as WOWSA’s report on Diana Nyad’s Cuba–Florida crossing. “The attached independent report,” he writes, “supports my belief that Diana succeeded. . . . Please read the details of the report, if you have interest and time.”

But here’s the problem: He sent only part one of the two-part report. What’s more, someone — presumably Steven — removed every reference to part two.

They also changed the table of contents to give the impression that he sent a complete copy of the original.

Left: Table of contents from the altered version of WOWSA’s Diana Nyad Cuba–Florida report. Right: Table of contents from the original.

Finally, they slapped on a WOWSA logo, minimizing the likelihood of anyone questioning the report’s authenticity.

Why go to all that trouble when he could have just provided a link to the original? Here’s my guess: Because part two concludes that Nyad’s crossing was never ratified. That’s a message Steven and Diana would rather keep to themselves.

Toward the end of his email, Steven writes:

Daniel is “lawyered up” (his own words) and is apparently going to file lawsuits. I inform you of this because I will continue to counter Daniel’s statements and actions against Diana Nyad – even if I will be sued.

In other words, he’ll even go to court and risk his own money to defend Diana!

But he won’t have to do it against me.

To sue him, I’d have to show some sort of injury. But Steven hasn’t hurt me. Rather, he keeps giving me gifts — like his since-deleted Openwaterpedia entry,  “WhydoesdanslosbergtrollswimmersandtellliesaboutDianaNyad.”  That page and its 55 siblings may be a smidge defamatory, but they solved a years-long mystery: Who vandalized Openwaterpedia to artificially elevate Diana Nyad into the top tier of 1970s marathon swimmers?

I should take Steven to dinner, not court.  (Granted, it’d be an uncomfortable meal since the answer was “Steven Munatones.”)

. . .

A few days after sending his initial message, Steven sent a second. It indicates that WOWSA — an organization from which Steven recently departed on ostensibly amicable terms — was not pleased. He writes that Quinn Fitzgerald, WOWSA’s one remaining board member, and Tima Vlasto, the report’s author, had “instructed” him to send the email. It contains several admissions, including that he’d sent an incomplete version of the report and didn’t have the right to do so.

He also links to the full version. He could have avoided a lot of trouble if he’d done that the first time.

Nyad’s lucky to have a supporter like Steven Munatones, someone willing to fight her battles and, in the process, create more and more problems for himself.

Diana and I both owe Steven our gratitude.

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