110 miles, 53 hours: Questions for Diana Nyad



  • edited September 2013
    @timsroot: I don't know the stats on jelly stings (lethal box species), but Diana was worried it could be lethal given her last experience and was enough reason to take extra precaution. I think I read from Angel's post that the suit was as much a deterrent as it was designed to prevent or minimize penetration. In other words possibly the jellies weren't attracted since little to no flesh exposed. I found that very interesting, but I may have misunderstood.

    Re: Calling the swim. I think that will always be up for debate in DN's swim. In the Cook swim, I don't believe they call the swim on first shark sighting, but suspect there is a time when the pilot/observer may determine the swim is too dangerous. I read they've had 85 swimmers swim the Cook Straight, no shark attack - so difficult to argue with their success. The list of successful completions including record holders does not indicate whether one got out our not due to sharks. And that maybe because if they did declare, a swimmer on record pace may refuse to get out not to interrupt swim or be flagged with "onboard assist". This is a question to pose to the Cook Straight sanctioning body.
  • Niek wrote:
    @Rupertdacat During Walther Poenisch swim we had the Int. Fed. Professional Ocean Swimmers and Divers who ratified his swim. http://openwaterswimming.eu/node/9764
    I can't find anything if that federation still exist today but there is still a James M. Mims doing something with diving in Florida today.
    According to an article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune The International Federation of Professional Swimmers and Divers disbanded in 1979.
    It appears the Federation existed for one year, with Mims serving as founder/president and authenticator of the Poenisch swim. He would have been 21 at the time of the swim in July of 1978. Currently there is a Jim Mims aka James Marvin Mims, listed as "Head Honcho" at Mimscorp Diving, founded in July of 1979.
    http://openwaterswimming.eu/files/Observer-Int- Fed-Prof-Ocean-Swimmers-and-Divers.pdf
    I am guessing DN's camp is getting tired of the questions and labeling, but didn't Diana herself in 1978, call Walter Poenisch a ‘cheat’ and a ‘fraud’ from which he won a small monetary sum?
    ssthomas wrote:
    Diana Nyad isn’t the first person to be questioned, and I doubt she’ll be the last.
    Accompanied by his wife, Mims, Captain Glenn Drummen of the Amy N., and Co-Captain Ben Lunge, Walter was assisted, not only by fins and shark cage, but by being
    out of the water and into the boat three different times, having vasoline and sundown applied across his shoulders, and under his arms by someone else at least three times, having Jim Mims help him out of the shark cage when they hit a sandbar offshore, and swimming with him to shore.

    Angered that the International Swimming Hall of Fame refused to recognize his swim, Walter and his wife sued the Hall and others who had accused him of fraud. The Hall had stated that an observer had seen Walter get into the boat to rest, but in a deposition the Hall had to state they did not have their own representative present at the swim. The couple won a 1.5 million dollar settlement and an apology, but the Hall of Fame record book remained the same.
    Walter stated that Susan Maroney's swim should be discredited. He said photos showed her resting on the shark cage and using a diving vest, aiding with both warmth and flotation.

  • edited September 2013
    @vvice, excellent finds, and read. I didn't realize Walter had far more assist in addition to fins snorkel and cage, including boarding boat to treat stings, handler/observer apply vasoline, "sundown" (must be what we we called sunblock today) on back, shoulder and arm pits. And the hallucinations (similar to DN), asking "Jim" to clear bushes out of the way on final stretches of the swim. This swim sure has seen controversy with every swimmer.
  • @StuartMcDougal Niek posted links to some of the documents on http://openwaterswimming.eu/node/9764 They were made available by Faye Poenisch, widow of Walter Poenisch. Original newspaper articles sourced from google searches are great for offering details and perspectives that were current at the time!
  • RonCollinsRonCollins Clearwater, Florida, USAMember
    Has anyone here ordered her movie yet? I'm wondering if most of the footage is archival footage, and not from the most recent, assisted swim?

    Ron Collins
    Clearwater, Florida

  • jvjjvj Charlotte, NCMember
    edited September 2013
    Just to follow up on the great post by @ssthomas...

    I am an avid swimmer having competed both at the college level and now at the Masters level but have only done a few open water swims and certainly nothing where marathon swimming “rules” come into play. However I appreciate the strict adherence to rules for the integrity of an individual sport, where much of the “competition” is done out of the public eye. It’s not like a team sport where rule infractions happen on pretty much every play but aren’t considered infractions unless called by the referee, umpire or other official. Individual sports typically rely strictly on the integrity of the athlete.

    As an avid golfer I know I have to play the ball as it lies. If I hit one perfectly down the middle of the fairway but it comes to rest in a divot, that’s just an unfortunate break and I don’t get to move the ball over to a more favorable lie. Many non-golfers think some of the archaic rules of golf are ridiculous but a true fan of the sport knows they are necessary. Suppose I shot a 59 on the last day of the Masters or British Open to win by 6 strokes but a television replay showed that I accidentally grounded my club in a hazard and failed to assess myself the required 2 stroke penalty. Had I done so, I would have still won but wouldn't have broken the magical 60 barrier and, let’s face it, the accidental grounding didn’t give me any real advantage so what’s the harm. However, since I didn’t assess the penalty and signed an incorrect score card the result is I would be disqualified and forfeit the win. Yes, this may be harsh but I don’t think you will find a professional golfer anywhere that would argue this minor rule infraction should be overlooked in this case.

    I look at this swim in the same way. Yes DN achieved an absolutely remarkable feat no matter how you classify it, but unfortunately her seemingly disregard or indifference to the rules of her sport, and her failure to be as transparent as possible (not releasing raw data, posting her “rules” ahead of time, using known observers, etc.) continues to tarnish it in my opinion. And as such, her peers in the marathon swimming community are absolutely correct in trying to clarify and quantify her swim. Just an opinion from an interested bystander...
  • I've noticed a trend in this entertaining thread...

    1. A member of DN's team appears with enthusiastic willingness to help answer questions and explain why this shouldn't be considered an assisted swim.
    2. Forum members ask this team member their questions.
    3. The answers given are either vague, not entirely relevant, not supported by other statements or evidence, or directed to someone else on DN's team.
    4. When "pressed" for clarification or supporting evidence, the DN team member opts to stop contributing.
  • @ssthomas.. Rocks it. Best word in that wonderful eloquent post..INTEGRITY. Nuff said.
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    Agreed. And I'm not even a channel swimmer
  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member
    @GregJL - Sadly true. But the extreme dreamers seen to take the questions as personal attack.

    The emotion in this thread (from both sides) is, at least at times, getting in the way of rational discussion.
  • edited September 2013
    I'm still here. I signed off from that conversation because a) I felt I was starting to repeat myself b) despite lip service to civility, this is clearly a hostile environment. The Sir Edmund Hilarys of the world "Find a way". Diana did that solidly and ethically. She went from point A to point B without touching a vessel, without any flotation aid, without any forward propulsion aid, she walked out on her own power. Still, she did not adhere to the STRICT "Unassisted" EChanmel rules according to the pedantic voices here. I came to this forum in good faith with aloha interested to explore the mindset here. At this point, frankly I am horrified that human health and safety are placed below "rules" from a very different body of water. "What if the first sting is fatal"? While I put the risk of loss of life from a single sting less than 50%, it certainly exists. The risk of fiery severe "worst pain imaginable" is 100%. I would suggest the risk of Irukandji syndrome is over 50%. I find it flatly unethical for anyone to encourage you all or your peers knowingly to swim into harms way simply for the sake of ENGLISH CHANNEL rules. I find this monolithic focus wrong headed given the realities of the FL Straits. I will answer questions but I would prefer to only answer questions from fully knowledgeable people who have themselves been stung by box jellies as I and others have. The whole premise that EC rules are more important than human life and well being boggles the mind but please carry on folks. After the swim I spent a few days meeting with Special Forces trainees in Florida who have suffered mightily because of box jelly stings in and around Key West Approaches. This is not a trivial matter. Encouraging a mindset that would lead Chloe to risk life, limb and home to accomplish it by EC rules is extremely troubling to me. Yet there seems no authentic discussion of that, the topic veers back again and again to EC rules and the sanctity of that. Also, I am not in a position to provide you with "raw data" etc. I have done my best here to be a civil open resource. I feel great concern at the outcome and the content of this thread.
  • I dont know what you mean Niek.
    Timsroot, I agree except that there are real ramifications to future swimmers.
    Again, let me be clear, I respect this group and your process here. It is frustrating for both "sides" because I think the priorities being used are vastly different. Integrity of a set a rules verses integrity of athleticism in a hostile environment. She did the later, solidly, ethically and heroically.
  • jvjjvj Charlotte, NCMember
    I don’t see where people are encouraging anyone to swim it strictly adhering to EC rules. (I’m sure there may be a few posts I don’t recall, but that isn’t the emphasis of this thread.) What I see is people trying to accurately classify the swim according the established norms associated with marathon swimming. If DN was claiming the first assisted swim without a shark cage then we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But by all measure of marathon swimming precedent and norms, this was an absolutely incredible ASSISTED swim. Just because it may not be possible to do it strictly unassisted doesn’t give you license to change the definition.
  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    The Sir Edmund Hilarys of the world "Find a way". Diana did that solidly and ethically.
    This is not a trivial matter. Encouraging a mindset that would lead Chloe to risk life, limb and home to accomplish it by EC rules is extremely troubling to me. Yet there seems no authentic discussion of that, the topic veers back again and again to EC rules and the sanctity of that.

    Dr. Yanagihara, please note that since Sir Edmund Hillary's ascent of Mt Everest, many have done it without the assistance of bottled oxygen....
    And so, neither does DNs swim prove that it is impossible without the assistance the she benefitted from.

    Now a question about sting stopper if I may: Does SS provide a physical barrier between the skin and the stinging tentacles?... Or is it more of a soothing balm?... Anti venom?

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • This Sting Stopper is a compounded formulation of multiple technologies I have developed into one long lasting marine stable grease like substance specific for ocean use. I have it in other bases also. It contains compounds that inhibit tentacle discharge. I have video taped live box jelly on my arm with or without sting stopper with pressure. It also includes my fast acting technologies to inhibit venom, i.e. treat stings. (It is not accurate to use the word "anti venom" these flatly do not work with box jelly venoms of any sort because the venom active agent is far to fast to be neutralized by conventional antibody based "antivenom")
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    edited September 2013
    I will answer questions but I would prefer to only answer questions from fully knowledgeable people who have themselves been stung by box jellies as I and others have.

    Dr. Yanagihara, this caveat is like us preferring "to only answer questions from fully knowledgeable people who have themselves" swum a marathon swim.
    Thank you Niek. I had not read those items. Those blog entries are internally inconsistent:
    First Feeding Since Storm
    2:00am Monday September 2, 2013. Swim time: 41:00
    Reported by: Candace Hogan
    Diana came in for the first time since we've resumed formation, for a feeding.

    Diana’s Condition Report, First Light
    Monday, 7:30 a.m., Swim time: 46:31
    reported by: Katie Leigh
    When the whistle blew for Diana’s first feeding stop since before midnight,

    Doc, it is important to note that the blog post "First Feeding Since Storm" didn't appear on the blog until a few days ago, after the phone call in which swimmers questioned the apparently-untrue 7.5 hour spell of no water/feed on night two. How were we supposed to know that she did, in fact, get water and feed on night two? For that matter, was there only one feeding on night two, the one at 0200? So then she went another 5.5 hours w/o feed or water, 40+ hours into the swim?

    Something tells me the answer to that is No. But, as has been stated here many times, none of us know for sure because of the selective reporting on this monumental swim. If the observer logs had been published unexpurgated from the earliest possible time after the swim, many of our questions might have been answered. (And yes, observers are supposed to note when a swimmer feeds, how long it takes, how much they took in, etc. At least, that's this non-channel marathon swimmer's understanding of the duties of an observer.)

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • SharkoSharko Tomales BayGuest
    My Fellow Sharks et al,

    I swim because it is my meditation…it clears my mind and the movement feels good in the body…Marathon swimming on the other hand, for me, is about transformation…getting to the other side…it is something I am compelled to do without knowing the precise reasons…..I don’t swim for adulation but I do enjoy the camaraderie of a community of like minded swimmers that find the same joy. The mental challenge of the swim is what calls me…and I think others as well. I think the reason that the DN swim is bothersome to me and other marathon swimmers is the questionable ethical standards with which this swim may have employed. Our whole society is dealing with the issues of ethics such as the Lance Armstrong and some unethical Wall Street people ….I feel that our swimming community wants to keep swimming clean and ethical….(I would hope this is the direction our society is heading). I swim because I want to and sometimes need to….I don’t need or want to self promote…If someone self promotes…ok…but if someone self promotes with questionable or unethically behavior then that resonates negatively with me…Many of the comments on the marathon swimmers forum relate to ethical standards (honesty) so I believe that this resonates with others. I don’t believe the swimming community will let go of this swim issue until the ethical questions are answered.

    "I never met a shark I didn't like"

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited September 2013
    I find it flatly unethical for anyone to encourage you all or your peers knowingly to swim into harms way simply for the sake of ENGLISH CHANNEL rules. I find this monolithic focus wrong headed given the realities of the FL Straits.
    This is a frustratingly persistent misreading of this discussion.

    Very few here, if any, would fault DN's swim for not adhering to English Channel rules, per se. For instance, a stinger suit would not be allowed under EC rules, but I think many marathon swimmers see the stinger suit as a geographically-reasonable (and non-performance enhancing) protection against dangerous jellyfish. After all, Penny Palfrey's Cayman Islands swim and nearly-successful Straits of Florida attempt were widely celebrated by this community, despite her use of a stinger suit.

    The assisted/unassisted debate is about physical contact, not the stinger suit. Penny Palfrey clearly demonstrated it is possible to put a stinger suit on without physical assistance. Therefore, DN's physical contact with her crew isn't about safety & protection - it's about making the swim itself easier.
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    edited September 2013
    It's been over a week and I haven't had much time for writing. I should have put this into the public domain earlier, since it was important in my role in the review panel so apologies for the delay, I went to Dover immediately afterwards. I don't regret the questions, only that I could have waffled on less when asking them. Anyway, I'm pretty sure I'm off the Christmas card list. I have a recording of my questions (but you can't hear the answers, I'll put them up somewhere as soon I can.

    There are many including myself who have repeatedly wondered why DN didn't publish her rule-set for the various attempts.

    I opened my questions in the second round with asking, in a too-long fashion; why Diana Nyad didn't set out to maximise transparency, especially as unlike all of us, it had a commercial aspect. As part of her equally long answer (because there were other aspects also) she said the marathon community hadn't reached out to her.

    So I contradicted this in two ways. I asked about an email to her 18 months previous by a member of the IMSHOF. That email is below (all typos are the original, I haven't touched it). I also mentioned that some of us had been contacted by her Twitter account for our input on the famous heat drip device. DN said she (a journalist) had nothing to do with the Twitter or Facebook accounts, that was handled by a member of the team.


    to dnyad, Penny, Steve

    Steve mentioned that you will probably wear stinger suits on your Cub swims.

    In our wonderful open water world there is always the chance of some "traditional" open water folks sending messages to the google groups or getting quoted saying adverse things about the swim suit.

    There are several ways to deal with this:

    1. Just ignore it

    2. Have a few of us prepared with quotes to fire back - example:

    Ned Denison: "The debate on what is allowed in open water swimming has been raging for years and will continue to rage for years. I have been in discussions in the past with a small group of swimmers who want to bring it down to basics: naked, no goggles, no cap, no ear plugs, no grease, paddle or sail (ONLY) escort boats, no feeds during the swim, no whiteboards or verbal discussion/encouragement from the crew and no GPS. Yes, this would make a swim more difficult, but it dramatically increases swimmer risk. She agreed, in advance, a set of rules in line with all the major federations with the addition of a non-bouyant stinger suit. Due to the length of the swim and the nature of the jellyfish
    in those waters it was a reasonable safety (not speed enhancing) measure. The vast majority of open water swimmers, pool swimmers and public out there are applauding and inspired by the success."

    3. The other idea might be for me to pull together a new Cuba to Florida swimming association (non-fee collecting !) this week (!) which would adopt these rules and sanction the swim.

    I would be happy to be a member....and would ask folks like Kevin Muphy,Nick Adams, Forrest Nelson, Scott Zoring and Ram Barkai to join the board. With a weight of TOGS only (well known) characters...we might scare away any nay-sayers.

    Any views?

    DN's response was that she was unaware of such an email and (fairly) asked who the anonymous person was. At that point, given the media, I said I'd share it with @Munatones privately.

    However since he is happy for me to publish his name, the person who wrote the email was @Ned Denison, IMSHOF Honour Administrator, well known to very many of you, certainly to almost all the Channel swimmers. @Ned also, as you can see, copied the email to @Munatones and @PennyPalfrey, both of whom responded. @Munatones was apparently sitting beside DN when I asked this and when DN said she couldn't respond to an anonymous person. Apparently she does use email, because yesterday @Munatones sent her email address to the panel invitees and "virtually introduced" us to use his phrase.

    Therefore it is demonstrably a fact, that Diana Nyad's assertion that the community never reached out to her, is not true for at least two instances.

    I'd also like to address something referred to here & elsewhere that is equally important.

    Last week's panel was NOT the idea of the invitees from the forum or of anyone on this forum. We didn't force Diana Nyad into anything.

    We asked questions and people started to listen, where previously they didn't.

    We didn't force it or even suggest it, nor were we in any way involved in organising it. I suggested to @Munatones that as the only "international" voice, two far more qualified and far better known UK Channel swimmers than I be invited, but they both declined.


  • Dr Yanagihara -
    I do believe that your concern about people always advocating EC rules is valid. In fact, I asked that question on 5 August of this year:

    It has also been discussed in terms of rash guards and the like in other threads. (BTW, in the above thread I referred to you as "Dr. Angel Whats-her-name" - no offense meant. It also has a question that you might be able to answer if you are so inclined.)

    Perhaps it would help if you thought of what is going on in this forum WRT Ms. Nyad as something that you are familiar with in academia: peer review of something to be published.

    In essence, Ms. Nyad's swim is being peer reviewed and, admittedly, there are times when the reviewers are less than gentle and maybe even rabid or irrational or just have brains full of jellyfish toxin from their last swim. However, in the publication review process there are certain standards of disclosure of research that are expected, standards of accountability, standards or reproducibility, standards of data quality, etc. If these are not met, you are asked to revise the paper or are rejected outright. I am sure you went through a similar process when you did your Ph.D. thesis, maybe you even had the dreaded sadistic b@st@rd on your Ph.D. committee that needed to torture you a bit. (I hope not.) Then, based on the perceived importance of the results - and God knows what else - a paper is published at some level. So, not every medical paper gets into The New England Journal of Medicine, some go into less prestigious publications. (A quick aside: When I was in the Penn State math grad program, we had a retired professor, Dr. Theresa Cohen, who was still publishing at 95+ years of age. They weren't the most prestigious journals, but the departmental "heavyweights" thought she was God.)

    To extend the analogy to Ms. Nyad's swim, I think a summary of the imaginary review committe might be:
    1) The rules that this was to be done under were, at best, hazy before the swim. It is fairly standard in this "discipline" for people to declare the rules they will swim under beforehand. It should also be noted that this was point of contention after her attempts before this last one.
    2) The existence of the extremely fortunate and rare ocean current led to data that was highly unexpected and caused doubt. Assuming this has been cleared up, it isn't an issue.
    3) The mention of 7+ hours without feeding also caused doubt as it is pretty much unknown in the sport. Assuming that it was an accidental incorrect entry, it isn't an issue.
    4) The use of streamers, stinger suits, people touching, etc is not included in what this discipline usually calls an "unassisted swim." (This is similar to the "original work" one does to get a Ph.D. - There is no exact standard that defines this, but it does arise out a common consensus.)
    5) There was, and perhaps still is, a general feeling of lack of transparency/timeliness to the whole process. Again, this goes against the what is usually done in this discipline. If anything, most marathon swimmers will be all too happy to regale you with hours of stories about some really nauseating bodily functions while you are trying to eat at the post-swim party that many races have.

    Therefore, I will go back to my last post and say that as long as the three conditions hold that I mentioned there, Ms. Nyad seems to me to certainly deserve her "Ph.D." in the discipline of "Swimming Cuba-To_Florida, Assisted Division."


    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • This Sting Stopper is a compounded formulation of multiple technologies I have developed into one long lasting marine stable grease like substance specific for ocean use.

    Any idea of how it compares in terms of durability in the water as compared to sunscreens like SolRx? If it's better, please license it to the sunscreen companies.


    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • She went from point A to point B without touching a vessel, without any flotation aid, without any forward propulsion aid, she walked out on her own power.

    By golly... I think we're beginning to get a definition of DN's Rules.
    At this point, frankly I am horrified that human health and safety are placed below "rules" from a very different body of water.

    Uh... Dr. Yanagihara... This is what we do. With nothing more than a speedo, cap and goggles, we immerse ourselves in an aquatic environment and attempt physical feats that present countless manners of discomfort, injury or death. Maybe you should be introduced to some of our Ice Swimmers.
  • danslosdanslos Los Angeles, CAMem​ber
    Dr. Yanagihara's "frankly I am horrified..." comment defines a kind of cultural gulf that we probably cannot bridge. Most marathon swimmers have internalized a set of standards (which @ssthomas clearly and eloquently described) that non-marathon swimmers may never make sense of. If danger exists, why can't we bend the rules a bit in order to ensure a swimmer's safety?

    Marathon swimming is, of course, never entirely safe and is sometimes outright dangerous. Marathon swimmers accept that. I haven't been around the sport for awhile, but I'll never forget when John York stopped breathing on a Catalina double-crossing attempt (and came back the next year, not in a wetsuit but with the usual textile suit, cap and goggles--to shatter the record); or when David Yudovin's heart stopped while attempting the Santa Barbara channel--after which he went on to an illustrious career full of many unassisted swims. Lynne Cox consistently swims in water that would do in most mortals. All with textile suit, cap and goggles. All with the knowledge that touching a boat or a support person ends the swim.

    That will probably always seem crazy to non-marathoners. To me, it's just the rules we live by.

  • @ danslos, Fair enough! But I hope I don't sound too much like an armchair powder puff. I am a serious scuba diver (~ 200 dives/yr) and routinely dive off shore at night filming and catching box jellies while tiger sharks and aggressive oceanic sharks buzz by sometimes deliberately bumping me. (This causes my husband to routinely have me signing off documents...). I have been in life threatening situations and I have dealt with loss of life. I am passionate about maximizing my time on in near or under the ocean! I have all kinds of certifications and training. I am by nature cautious and overly prepared despite my drive to push all kinds of limits.
    So I think I understand. Yes there may be a cultural divide here but I at least feel I hear what is being said by this community. And again I have the greatest respect and admiration for you all!
    My point is perhaps better put in the context of a classic risks and hazards model. One cannot remove all risk from an extreme sport. There are concrete well known risks- dehydration, hypothermia, exhaustion etc. The risk assessment model would look at the probability of encountering risks and either take steps to mitigate/avoid (drink water) or plan for response (hyperthermia-remove the swimmer etc). The other side of the coin is hazard assessment. One does want to be aware of hazards but these are the wild cards. Studying the environment to become knowledgeable of potential hazards is key. Mitigation and avoidance or response plans are crucial. The magnitude of the loss together with the probability of the hazard should dictate the degree to which the hazard is addressed. In the case of the FL Straits the probability of encountering highly dangerous cubozoans is very high over the course of 110 miles and 50-80 hrs of swimming. I would guess it to be at least 95%. The magnitude of loss is also very high with severe utterly debilitating pain being 100% and serious medical sequelae ~50% and with death possible. Given these realities, I think the bravado of a speedo for the sake the purity of the sport is ill advised. It seems some forum members think if it cant be done in a speedo it should not be considered. Others have expressed the opinion that Penny's stinger suit was OK. (So then the fine point becomes the limited touching for tape etc) I think perhaps only Diana, Chloe and Penny should make the rules for this body of water. But again I have to wonder how Chloe got the impression that a Speedo would be sufficient. I think it would be like having Olympic runners do a marathon in a rattlesnake infested desert at night. I do not think having Olympians in the hospital with snake bite wounds serves any aspect of athletic accomplishment. I feel the same about box jellies.
    I stand to be informed by your considered discussions. I do appreciate the candor of this forum. And yes LBJ I have pretty thick skin after all the "peer review" that comes with academic research!
  • I think it would be like having Olympic runners do a marathon in a rattlesnake infested desert at night.

    In that analogy, I think the runners would lobby to run in a different location. Or they could ask for pogo sticks to avoid the snakes: but then it wouldn't be called running anymore, it would be called something else, like Olympic Snake Hurdling.

    That's the point: if it's so dangerous to complete it as an unassisted swim, maybe it's not worth doing. If you change the rules in order to complete it, it should be called something else. That's the reason the designations "assisted" and "unassisted" even exist.
  • @Niek, OK understood. Your perception is 1000x1000. You and others have made clear that the limited contact (tape application etc) invokes the EC ASSISTED categorization. I am not sure that the public will buy into the argument that a few moments of contact for prudent safety measures equates to "assisted" as in wearing fins and having a cage momentum for 110 miles. But here is definitely a point at which I propose we respectfully agree to disagree!
  • This Sting Stopper is a compounded formulation of multiple technologies I have developed into one long lasting marine stable grease like substance specific for ocean use.

    Any idea of how it compares in terms of durability in the water as compared to sunscreens like SolRx? If it's better, please license it to the sunscreen companies.


    LBJ, I will find SolRx and compare. Some of these technologies have already been licensed. Others are in the pipeline and still others are under development.
  • edited September 2013
    Dear Forum members and Angel, I have tried to separate myself from directly getting involved in this forum thread and limiting my public comments about Diana’s swim. This has been very difficult to do- especially when my name keeps getting mentioned and I believe the integrity of our sport is at risk. I believe in our sport – as just that – a sport. All sports have rules, officials/administrators, athletes and penalties if you break rules etc... I know marathon swimming is quite unique in the sporting world as these swims occur in less controlled conditions, variable locations, swimmers organise the one-off 'solo' swims themselves etc… But, never-the-less if we want the world to take our sport seriously and if we want an even, fair playing field for fellow swimmers now and into the future we need to have a strong consensus as to what our expectations are for our sport and the conduct of marathon swimmers, so those who want to term their swims true ‘marathon swims’ do so by our standards – not just any they make up along the way (!) We need to speak in one united voice so that we can effectively and with authority inform the media if we believe any swims do not meet our agreed criteria and also to celebrate with the marathon swimmer and the media for those who try valiantly and fail (according to accepted rules) and for those who succeed (according to accepted rules). I believe we have not, unfortunately, reached this point. I believe in the integrity of our sport and that we – the marathon swimming community- need to draw a line in the sand with what is acceptable and what is not acceptable as a ‘marathon swim’ and not let the athlete dictate to us – let alone after-the-fact! Please inform me of any sport in the WORLD which puts up with this…

    As per Angel’s bizarre comments. For the public’s interest it must be said Angel has never contacted me directly via email/blog. She was given my email by one of my support crew over a public Facebook thread when she kept asking them questions about my upcoming swim. Angel has on more than one occasion claimed to have contacted me via email and now my blog!, she continues to claim this although it is not true. On another note, I have spoken to several Box Jelly Fish and/or general Jelly Fish experts around the world (some of you may be aware that Australia has one of the highest mortality rates for Box Jelly Fish in the world). I am of the understanding that every recent attempt besides Diana’s last was adversely affected by Box Jelly fish – does that mean we should have criticised her for being ‘ill-informed’ after those attempts? I believe Angel had nothing to offer my swim and therefore I did not reach out to her and she has never reached out to me directly. Interestingly, she did apparently prior to my swim threaten to prosecute any of my team members who used some of her so-called ‘treatment’ she has created and is apparently trying to/is patenting, apparently she may have thought they had some of this ‘treatment’ in their possession– they in fact did not have any of this ‘treatment’ (“If there is any use of the patented use of these active ingredients UH would vigorously prosecute infringement”). It wouldn’t be ethical of me to use any treatment that wasn’t publicly available without its owners/makers consent, so I wouldn’t do that anyway.

    Angel, when I start jumping on a boat during a ‘non-stop swim’ and concealing this from the media as long as possible, creating rules for my swim after it has concluded, and when I choose not to have experienced or independently trained observers from witnessing my claimed records, and when I start letting people dress me in the middle of a swim and touch me several times and when me or my crew go around denigrating other people’s support crew – THEN you can criticise the way I conduct my swims – until this time I will let the marathon swimming community (with whom I consult with in the planning of my swims and with whom I am open and transparent with and respectful of) be the critical judge of my swimming attire, integrity and credibility of my swims.

    One another note...It will be a sad day for sport when the rules of any sport are dictated by public perception! Why should we accept any less for our sport?
  • sylmarinosylmarino San FranciscoMember
    edited September 2013
    @AngelYanagihara -from your earlier post
    "You and others have made clear that the limited contact (tape application etc) invokes the EC ASSISTED categorization. I am not sure that the public will buy into the argument that a few moments of contact for prudent safety measures..."

    Stop invoking EC into everything when you really do.not.understand (there is no "EC Assisted categorization"...it's called disqualified). ASSISTED is, ASSISTED. DN was TOUCHED. That means something in the marathon swimming world. I don't care if it was in the English Channel, Lake Tahoe, Mullet Lake, Burt Lake, Lake Ontario, the Amazon River or Lake Titicaca.

    Palfrey did a long damn portion of that swim without being TOUCHED showing that one can get in and out of the stinger suit without help and yes, it is effort (I still have an issue with the suit but whatever) - ergo - NO (wait for it) ASSISTANCE.

    Let me put in a way that perhaps might make it a little more clear. I have three children. When they were little I would dress them. As they got older I would offer less and less assistance - doing the buttons or snaps or what have you until they could do it all on their own without assistance. The day they could fully dress themselves - snaps, zippers, socks and all I would honestly yell "Good girl! You did it all on your own without any assistance!"

    Assistance. It has a definition in this sport. Respect that or you simply have no respect for this sport.
  • edited September 2013
    @Chloe, It is clear that there are many misunderstandings. I am glad to hear that you were fully informed of box jellies. I simply could not understand the choice to swim at night with no stinger suit. It was not my intent to cause distress here. Yes there was some concern that shark divers that I had provided this sting stopper technology may proceed to use it in other contexts. It was provided via material transfer agreement. In any event, my whole intent was to clarify the dangers in FL Strait.
    @sylmarino Understood.
    "not to beat a dead horse" but for context sake, I had been advised previously on this thread that the EC Rules were here http://cspf.co.uk/cs-and-pf-rules :
    "During a swim no physical contact with the swimmer shall be made by any person other than to pass food and drink or secure such items as light sticks for safety reasons." verses further down..
    An assisted category swim will be to the same rules as a standard swim except for the allowance, by prior arrangement with the Federation, of the minimum additional aids or contact as is deemed necessary for the safety of the swim on medical or other agreed grounds. An assisted category swim will only be accepted after prior agreement with the Federation."
  • PochiPochi Member
    edited September 2013
    Not to beat a dead horse, but in addition to the stinger suit and touching, Diana also wore gloves, booties, mask, utilized shark divers, jelly fish displacers, streamers and I even heard they may have used shark bombs (but this has not been confirmed). Our community could forgive some inadvertant contact and possibly look past the jelly suit, but all together this adds up to a full-on assisted swim. I am sorry, but I could argue that Diana had even more assistance than Susan or Walter....she certainly had more support.
    I guess Diana is the only person to make the assisted swim without getting out of the water like Walter or resting on the shark cage like Susan. That is a pretty awesome achievement to remain in the water the whole time.
  • edited September 2013
    @ Niek She did not touch the boat in the 5th attempt. That is fully inaccurate. The 5th attempt was this year. She successfully completed the swim in this 5th attempt.

    @Evmo, Thank you again for your generous civility. I do not think I have any more to contribute and think that I should bow out of this forum.

    I thank you all for the candid comments and insights. I am happy to respond to any messages to my inbox.
  • mrfinbarrmrfinbarr Charter Member
    I have been looking online for records of various swims with regard to world records distances for any swims but I cannot find them - perhaps @munatones can direct me to them, I thought I saw them previously on one of the websites he maintains...

    Anyway I remain conviced that this swim was assisted for a reason which is different to what many are discussing. I believe we in general would regard downstream river swims to be different categorically to for eg still water lake swims. Should this then not also apply to open seas where currents & tides provide a substantial & positive push towrds the finish?

    "Nothing Great is Easy - The Des Renford Story" wrote:
    "...serious marathoners tend to disregard the Manhattan Island Swim, which is swum on a huge tide, ripping the swimmers along at about 8 knots. The winner covers the 48kilometres in less than 7 hours"

    If it were possible to get MIMS conditions for a 3/4 lap swim of Manhattan would that be considered assisted or unassisted? I would certaintly consider it assisted as I consider the period in Nyad's swim where she was ripped along by the tide at a pace far greater than her own.

    As a sidebar I'd like to draw attention to this video: where Tyson Gay ran the fastest 100m of all time but it did not count as a world record becasue it was deemed to be "wind-aided" In sprinting winds of greater than 2.0m/s are deemed to be aiding.

    ps I hope no MIMS swimmers get upset by Des's comments
  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    At the risk of getting drawn into an increasingly arcane debate... in the MIMS case, surely this would only be assisted if it were being claimed as a distance record. Otherwise, it's just another swim....and one that by definition has to be done in those waters.

    And I say this as someone who has done it twice this year - once most definitely assisted, and then the old-fashioned way. And the second time it was on a huge tide that made me feel like I was flying. Assisted / unassisted - I really don't care. It felt amazing.

    Us not-so-serious marathoners have all the fun.
  • sylmarinosylmarino San FranciscoMember
    Sorry @AngelYanagihara but your are grasping for air where none exists even to the point of begging for a CS&PF wording you hope to interpret for DN's purpose only. Prior arrangement, prior agreement - means DISCLOSURE PRIOR - still none exist. DN's own statements "I was NEVER TOUCHED" immediately after her swim became "well, ok, except when people were putting suits on and off me, putting cream on me..." to finally "well, they never buoyed me..." Again, all after the fact.

    Safety, medical - unless you tell me that on a daily basis DN is incapable of dressing herself that's where this would come into play and even then, the fact that Ms. Palfrey manages to get the stinger suit on an off herself and put her own suncream on, etc. sets precedent that no ASSISTANCE is needed on this item.

    Yes, I've seen cases were people swim across the English Channel, get out, put a wetsuit on... guess what - swim doesn't count in the books. That person can 'say' they swam the English Channel but they are NOT a Channel Swimmer in the eyes of open water swimming, get no records, etc. In this case, DN can say she swam from Cuba to Florida all she wants... but if tries to call it unassisted, that simply doesn't count in the open water swimming world. It was a valiant, assisted swim.

    Your purpose here is ONLY to try and vindicate the actions and bend meaning to suit DN and not a care for the integrity of the sport and ALL of its participants in its entirety.
  • mrfinbarrmrfinbarr Charter Member
    KarenT wrote:
    At the risk of getting drawn into an increasingly arcane debate... in the MIMS case, surely this would only be assisted if it were being claimed as a distance record. Otherwise, it's just another swim....and one that by definition has to be done in those waters.

    Yes I totally agree & its the distance record which I'm concerned about. Much and all as I appreciate the rest of the debate it can just be called another swim, particular to those waters.
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    evmo wrote:

    To anyone who is inclined to add comments to the NYT public editor's piece, I encourage you to do so. It's more important than you may realize.

    Two big pieces of the story are missing from Ms. Sullivan's coverage:

    1. The legitimate reasons there were questions about the swim in the first place.
    2. The disappointing follow-through by DN's team on releasing data & evidence.
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    I have to admit the first comment on that article irritated me so much I haven't been back to read any more.

    I'm also not sure why there's even a discussion as to whether DNs swim was assisted or unassisted. Of course it was assisted. As a novice to this sport even I know that the cardinal rule is that you don't get touched by your crew.
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    edited September 2013
    evmo wrote:
    To anyone who is inclined to add comments to the NYT public editor's piece, I encourage you to do so. It's more important than you may realize.

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • westwest Member
    edited September 2013
    evmo wrote:
    To anyone who is inclined to add comments to the NYT public editor's piece, I encourage you to do so. It's more important than you may realize.
    I keep trying, but then I read some of the other adulating comments and I get a little queasy.
  • On that NYT blog page, it might also be useful to "recommend" some of the comments so that they might make it onto the "Reader's Pick" tab that appears just to the right of the general comment tab. I would hate for the comments I see there from @evmo and @IronMike to get lost in the crowd, so to speak.
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    edited September 2013
    did something happen? I can't see/find the comments anymore...


    and they're back. Disregard. Probably my stupid government computer. ;)

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    Wow, didn't know about the false Manhattan claim ("Morty" brings it up in the comments at the NYT article).

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    @IronMike FYI "Morty" is the founder & CEO of NYC Swim and race director for MIMS.
  • What is floating in the water at the end of her left hand?
  • jvjjvj Charlotte, NCMember
    Since much of this thread is centered on assisted vs non-assisted swims I have a couple of questions. Is there a difference between an assisted swim and a staged swim? At what point does a swim become a DNF? In other words how much and what type of assistance can be provided before most would consider it a DNF?
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited September 2013
    Just to make sure this doesn't get buried - a rather telling revelation from NYC Swim:

    Our personal history with Ms. Nyad is mixed. From 1975 up til 2011, Ms. Nyad claimed that she was the first woman to swim around Manhattan & broke a record that had stood for 50 years. Both claims were false & it was only after CNN fact checked these claims with NYC Swim, did Ms. Nyad stop with her claims (CNN was financially supporting elements of Ms. Nyad's Cuba swim attempts). For years, NYC Swim endeavored to get Ms. Nyad to cease with her claims, but she ignored our requests and outreach… which frankly was frustrating & at times infuriating.
  • Feel free to delete this comment as it's rather extraneous but, in relation to the above comment ...
    To claim a record where none existed... for 36 yrs?
    Lots of adjectives come to mind. None printable.
  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    I would like to quote something from Capt. Tim Johnson's "History of Open Water Marathon Swimming"
    Pg. 261 What would motivate a good swimmer to "cheat"? For one, they don't believe they are cheating; they are using a swimming aid for what to them appears to be a good cause: the setting of a record or being the first. It's when they claim to have swum from point to point and not credit the assistance received, that they discredit themselves

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

This discussion has been closed.