Exposing the lies of one of sports’ greatest frauds
Inflate four hours to 37 and 30 entrants to 444. Chill 65-degree water to 48 and reduce 10th place to third. Season with atrocious sportsmanship. Voilà—Nyad’s unstable tales of her first professional race.
Diana Wins: The true story of Diana Nyad’s first pro race.
In July 1970, Diana Nyad headed to Hamilton, Ontario, for her first professional open water race, the ten-mile Labbat’s International Championship. Swimming under ideal conditions—little wind, a warm sun coaxing the water temperature into the mid-60s—Nyad set a women’s record of 4:23. She finished 10th overall out of a field of 30, and she beat five-time world champion Judith de Nijs by twelve minutes. A great debut by any measure.
But it has never been enough for Diana Nyad.
“It was a long day—37 hours and 38 minutes across Lake Ontario.”
—Beachbody 2014 (23:27)
“The lake was 48 degrees…. I finished third among the 444 that day.”
By 1978, Nyad was reporting that the participation had doubled and the temperature had dropped: “[T]he water temperature was 62 degrees, and out of sixty professional swimmers, I finished tenth” (Other Shores, p. 31).
World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation
|1964||Judith de Nijs|
|1965||Judith de Nijs|
|1966||Judith de Nijs|
|1967||Judith de Nijs|
|1968||Judith de Nijs|
|1969||Patti Thompson (Canada)|
|1970||Judith de Nijs|
|1971||Shadia El Rageb (Egypt)|
|1972||Shadia El Rageb|
|1973||Corrie Dixon Ebbelaar (The Netherlands)|
|1975||Angela Marchetti (Argentina)|
Note: Nyad left the tour after 1975.
|Chart adapted from Open Water Boek 2015,
from the Royal Netherland Swimming Association (KNZB),
edited by (and with thanks to) Richard Broer.
This page borrows from Diana Nyad Fact Check Annex posts, in particular: “A 23-Year-Old Speech Exposes Diana Nyad’s Decades of Deception.”
You’ll find the most detailed descriptions of the 1970 Hamilton race in Joe Grossman’s A History of Marathon Swimming and The Windsor Star’s “Holland’s Schans repeats in Lake Ontario marathon.”