"Nyad" on Netflix: The Swim, The Scandal, The Silence

“Nyad” on Netflix: The Swim, The Scandal, The Silence

What Every Viewer Should Know

San Francisco, CA (WOWSA) August 21, 2023 – Having received Diana Nyad’s submissions for official swim ratification twice, WOWSA would like to provide perspective on Netflix’s upcoming film “Nyad” featuring Annette Bening and Jodie Foster. It is important for viewers to understand that this film is based on Diana Nyad’s book, which has not been rigorously fact-checked [1]. There is a potential risk that audiences might perceive this docudrama as a fully factual account of Nyad’s swim from Cuba to Florida.

Steven Munatones, former owner, and founder of WOWSA was a consultant for the screenplay. He has played varying roles in the marathon swimming community, from promoter/blogger to ratifying body founder. His shifting roles have contributed to a decade-long controversy surrounding Nyad’s swim [2] . Munatones is no longer affiliated with WOWSA.

After her arrival at Smathers Beach in Key West, Florida, Nyad declared her record in a press conference. She improvised rules, was engulfed in media attention, and finally wrote a book with inconsistencies. She later came to the realization that her swim lacked official ratification. Munatones redirected her towards the Halls of Fame, which don’t ratify swims. As it stands, her swim remains unratified [2].

Promises made by both Nyad and Munatones in a 2013 press conference to release observer logs and GPS data went unfulfilled. The comprehensive details of the swim only surfaced with the 2022 Nyad report. A significant gap in the records, particularly during a period when Nyad’s condition shifted dramatically, calls for further expert analysis [2].

Munatones admitted to not ratifying any swims he promoted, leading to controversies like the Nejib Belhedi scandal. He also introduced phantom governing bodies and ambiguously framed Nyad’s ratification over the years [2].

Nyad’s refusal to accept offers for an ‘assisted’ ratification review, despite her swim falling under this category, raises eyebrows. Her portrayal of the endeavor as her “dream swim” achieved by her “Xtreme Dream Team” prompts the question: Why decline a review for official ratification, especially on the eve of the movie’s release? [2].

Guinness World Records (GWR) initially recognized the achievement based on the recommendation of their then open water swimming consultant, Steven Munatones. However, in light of recent findings by WOWSA, GWR has confirmed they no longer recognize Nyad’s swim as record-breaking [3].

Netflix, alerted to the controversies just weeks before the release, was advised to include a disclaimer emphasizing the film’s dramatized nature.

Marathon swimming, like any sport, operates under established rules ensuring fairness, safety, and authenticity. Ratification verifies an achievement.

As audiences dive into Netflix’s portrayal of Nyad’s journey, it’s essential to watch with discernment, keeping in mind the discrepancies surrounding the swim.

For the full report The Diana Nyad Cuba-Florida Swim 2013 Report

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[1] D. Nyad, Find a Way, Knopf, 2015.

[2] T. Vlasto, “The Diana Nyad Cuba-Florida Swim 2013 Report,” 2022. [Online]. Available: https://www.openwaterswimming.com/the-diana-nyad-cuba-florida-swim-2013-report-2022/.

[3] Guinness Book of World Records, “Guinness Book of World Records,” August 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/115501-first-person-to-swim-from-cuba-to-florida-without-a-shark-cage-or-fins(link shows previous record url removed)

Update: August 22, 2023 Citations

Update September 9, 2023: See also WOWSA Advisory Board’s Decision on Diana Nyad’s 2013 Cuba to Florida Swim

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