Diana’s Kaleidoscopic Convalescence (Summary)

One of Diana Nyad’s favorite stories involves the 1968 Olympic trials. According to Ms. Nyad, she was practically a shoo-in to land a place on the U.S. squad, but illness intervened:

In 1968 observers thought that Nyad was certain to make the Olympic team. “I was considered a ‘sure thing.’ The media considered it a tragic case when I didn’t make it. An attack of heart disease in the summer of 1967 slowed me down. I just wasn’t swimming fast enough to make the team. I was so disappointed, I stopped swimming. I went to India to meditate and do my drop-out thing for awhile. (Barnard Bulletin, 2 Feb 1976. Complete issue here)

Actually, she got sick in the summer of 1966 (if she got sick at all), but who’s counting?

Obviously, not Diana Nyad. Watch as she magically transforms the length of her convalescence. Please bear in mind that a hallmark of pathological liars, according to one definition, is “falsification entirely disproportionate to any discernible end” (Pathological Lying Revisited). (The parenthetical years denote the years she made the statements.)

6 weeks (1967)
“…last summer she suffered a virus of the heart which put her out of the water for six weeks” (Ft. Lauderdale News).

2 months in bed, 1 in the house (1978)
“I spent three months in strict bed rest…. When two months passed, I spent another month in more moderate bed rest, but still not going out of the house, much less exercising” (Other Shores, p. 19).

3 months in bed (1978)
“I stayed in bed every minute of every day for three months, the most significant experience of my early years” (Chicago Tribune; also see page 1 and page 3).

4 months on her back (1978)
“…an unexpected attack of endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, put her on her back for four months and ended her dream of participation in the 1968 Olympics” (Parade Magazine).

4 months in the hospital, 6 more weeks in bed (1981)
“For four months she was in the hospital; for six more weeks on her back at home” (Ft. Lauderdale News and Sun-Sentinel, page 1 here).

1 year in bed (1981)
“An illness during her 16th summer was the turning point in Nyad’s life. Stricken with endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, she was bedridden for a year” (Orlando Sentinel).

4 Months in a hospital, a bit extra at home (1983)
“Confined to a hospital for four months with more recuperation ahead of her, her Olympic hopes were doomed” (Cincinnati Enquirer).

4 months on her back (1985)
“In 1966, a bout with viral endocarditis, a heart ailment, put Nyad flat on her back for four months…” (Clarion-Ledger).

3 months in bed—but quality time with sis (2015)
“Junior year I contracted a heart disease called endocarditis, which required three months of strict bed rest. This was the time my sweet little sister Liza and I carved out a forever bond” (Find a Way, p. 49).

BONUS: Bedridden for Years (1977)
“By 16, Nyad was an Olympic caliber backstroker when she contracted endocarditis, a virus of the heart muscles and was bedridden for years.” (Minneapolis Star)

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Why did the pendulum swing back after Nyad’s convalescence reached one year? Possibly because she intuited how easily someone could catch the lie.

Let’s take a hint from Diana herself—that’s her lying on the diving board—and meditate on that for a bit:

Results of a swim meet held in February 1967, approximately 7½ months after Nyad’s illness began. She won the 100 backstroke and swam the opening leg of Pine Crest’s winning medley relay team.