Pyrenees Research Update: The Cuba–Florida Virtual Walk Description

Diana Nyad’s written description of her Florida Straits virtual walk contains some of her usual lies as well as an omission that’s heartless, thoughtless, or some combination of both.

Above: Walter Poenisch crossing the Florida Straits in 1978. Via “Lost at Sea: Walter Poenisch, his Cuba-to-Florida swim, and his stolen honor.” Diana Nyad includes this image in her Cuba-Florida walking notes without giving the source and without naming Poenisch.

Nyad includes old standbys like the one about her Cuba-Florida precursors:

The best men and women swimmers had made their valiant attempts. (notes, part 1)

(Only six have attempted the crossing.) And her mother-of-all box jellyfish lies:

Most people who have ever been touched by the Box have died instantaneously. (notes, part 1)

(Most people survive box jelly stings.)

Nyad’s Breathtaking Lie of Omission

In part two of her notes, Nyad acknowledges one of her two successful predecessors, an “Australian woman named Susie Mulroney” (it’s “Maroney”), but she doesn’t mention the other, Walter Poenisch, the man whose life she destroyed.

However, she includes a photo from his crossing (see above). I’m not sure if she meant her EverWalkers to think it’s Maroney, or if it’s Nyad’s way of acknowledging-without-acknowledging the man about whom she said,

He does not swim by the rules. He’s a gimmick. He’s a cheat. In the world of sports, he’s a cheat. (New York Times, 14 Jul 1978)


With all due respect to the aged, a man who’s 64 years old and very overweight is not going to swim for two days nonstop. (Miami Herald, 26 June 1978)

How about a woman who was 64 years old and had lied for 40 years nonstop?

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