Diana Nyad to critics of her Cuba-Florida record-making swim: ‘No one’s going to take our joy and our moment’

Updated 2:02 AM EDT, Thu September 12, 2013
03:10 - Source: CNN
Diana Nyad: 'Our team is squeaky clean'

Story highlights

Diana Nyad completed the 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida last week

She says she is the first person to do it unassisted and without a shark cage

But many questions have been raised about aspects of her swim

She insists her team did it in a "squeaky clean" way

(CNN) —  

Saying no one can can diminish what she and her team accomplished, a confident Diana Nyad took on her critics Wednesday night on “Piers Morgan Live.” Her record-breaking Cuba to Florida swin, she said, was by the book.

“We swam fair and square, squeaky clean across that thing,” Nyad said, at times raising her voice, during the interview.

“No one’s going to take our joy and our moment that the world was inspired by away from us. Nobody.”

The 64-year-old marathon swimmer has been hit with criticism ever since she finished her record-breaking 53-hour, 110-mile journey last week.

Some say the numbers don’t add up. Was it really a record? Did she cheat?

Nyad answered her critics, point by point.

Did she get help?

No, Nyad said. She said she was out in the open ocean the whole time.

“Never, never took a rest, never touched a boat, never got out on a boat,” she said.

During 27 hours of swimming, she went from 1.5 mph than to more than 3 mph. Many marathon swimmers say that’s deeply suspicious. Her explanation?

It’s simple math, Nyad said. And also a lucky stretch. She said she hit a perfect current that pushed her along at a quicker speed.

“If you got lucky, which I did that day and I’m swimming at 1.7 miles per hour I have a current at, let’s say, 2. 2 miles per hour… You add them together and you’re close to 4 miles an hour. It’s easy.”

Critcs say that it’s impossible for her not to eat or drink for more than seven hours during the swim. Her response?

That’s pure fiction, Nyad said. That rumor started, Nyad said, when a doctor said she was having serious stomach problems during the swim. The doctor said she was having problems eating solid food.

“That doesn’t mean you don’t eat,” she said. “My handlers, they made me nutritional supplement drinks. I’m always taking in food, every half hour, 45 minutes. Seven hours. That never happened.”

Some question whether she violated the traditions of the sport by using a specialized mask and wetsuit to protect herself from jellyfish stings. Did she break the rule?

The specialized mask she wore is allowed in the rules, Nyad said. And by the way, she added, that mask could hardly be called an aid. It’s cumbersome and makes it harder to swim.

“It’s not an aid, believe me. You wish you didn’t have this thing on,” she said. “They’re the most dangerous jellyfish in the world. They’re fatal. You need to be protected. In many areas of the world, those types of suits are allowed; just not in the English Channel.”

Does she think her effort will be ratified? Did she swim for nothing?

Nyad said she’ll have to wait and see if she is officially affirmed as the first person to have completed the Cuba-Florida swim unassisted and without a shark cage. These questions don’t help.

But she says, in some ways, she understands the scrutiny.

“People have been trying since 1950 to get across. It did seem nearly impossible,” Nyad said. “It better be vetted. But our team is squeaky clean. This swim will the ratified in due time.”