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http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57601879/diana-nyad-team-becoming-sensitive-to-skeptics/ says:

Diana Nyad's 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida has generated positive publicity and adoration for the 64-year-old endurance athlete — along with skepticism from some members of the small community of marathon swimmers who are questioning whether she accomplished the feat honestly.

They go on to explain that some people doubt her feat:

On social media and the online Marathon Swimmers Forum, long-distance swimmers have been debating whether Nyad got a boost from the boat that was accompanying her — either by getting in it or holding onto it — during a particularly speedy stretch of her swim.

Did Diana Nyad swim from Cuba to Florida without touching the accompanying boat?

  • News is that she'll be meeting with her skeptical peers today to answer their question. – ChrisW Sep 10 '13 at 13:41
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    and no doubt it will be impossible to apease the "critics" who'll just claim that whatever statements her crew makes are invalid because they're not "impartial observers", even if those happen to include officials from sports organisations. – jwenting Sep 10 '13 at 14:25
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    There are two news articles today which say that the anomaly (overnight increase in speed) is consistent with an ocean current: businessinsider.com/… and dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2416462/… – ChrisW Sep 10 '13 at 22:07
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Yes, and my arguments for saying so are two-fold.

First, there's the historical timeline:

  • When she first arrived there was jubilation
  • Then some skeptics questioned the feat, their principal argument being a sudden increase in her speed overnight
  • However an independent oceanographer concurred with that speed's being due to an unusual, favourable ocean current
  • A week later she had a conference call with the expert skeptics, which left them satisfied
  • IMO there was motive and opportunity for skeptics to press their counter-claim, if they had one, before or during that conference call: however, they did not do so.

Therefore the Preponderance of the evidence (at least) is that she didn't 'cheat' as was originally alleged by the skeptics.

Second, there's the current balance of opinion: the interested experts are now arguing over whether (because people in the boat would touch her ankle while she trod water, while helping her into her protective suit at night) it should be counted in the record books as an "assisted swim" or as an "unassisted swim". Therefore IMO there is no longer any expert doubt about whether it was "a swim" at all: which, was the question posed in the OP.

According to the video referenced below she has not yet published "the logs" of the swim, which one former skeptic (Evan Morrison) still awaits with interest (not so much because he still skeptical, but because he wants to learn from the details how she did it in order to improve his own techniques in the future). Although it's theoretically possible that further doubts may surface later, the same is theoretically possible for anything: because the question seems settled in the present time, so it seems appropriate to answer this question with "yes" now, instead of waiting forever.


http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/09/17/3633708/diana-nyad-cuba-to-florida-swim.html

Nyad and her support crew have quelled doubts and provided evidence in recent days to show that she swam from Cuba to Florida under her own power, without hanging onto or climbing into a boat or receiving flotation assistance from the handlers, divers or kayakers accompanying her.

Her evidence was allegedly sufficient to satisfy the expert skeptics:

http://news.yahoo.com/questions-linger-over-u-swimmer-diana-nyads-record-015309249--spt.html

"A lot of the big picture questions were answered," said Evan Morrison, a San Francisco-based marathon swimmer and corporate data analyst, who was on the call.

During that call, she appeared to satisfy other marathon swimmers with her explanation that ocean currents had helped quicken her pace during a section of the swim.

Evan said:

We heard from her navigator, who was essentially in charge of plotting their course across the channel given the gulf stream currents which is a fairly complicated task and one which I wasn't really qualified to even ask particularly complicated questions about.

The evidence

"Mitch Roffer of Melbourne-based Roffer's Ocean Fishing Forecasting Service Inc said he got an email questioning whether Nyad's swim was a hoax, so he decided to look at the charts for himself. What he saw convinced him that she could do it." (The Guardian)

Roffer said, "Many times that current runs west-east and you're constantly fighting the current if you're swimming north. In this case, it was in the shape of an S, and the angle was almost exactly from Havana to Key West". (The Guardian)

Roffer is preparing a report on the currents derived from satellites and ocean buoys. (Roffs.com)

"There's no hard evidence that Nyad cheated." (Business Insider)

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    The original skeptical claim was that she didn't swim it. Since then, the skeptics' claim has been reduced to whether her being touched (when being helped into her protective suit) along way should count as an "assisted swim" or an "unassisted swim": which, I understood as meaning that there is no longer doubt about whether she swam at all. – ChrisW Sep 19 '13 at 16:06
  • @Sancho You're not wrong, that was the essence of my answer: if you add that the people on the conference call were the skeptical experts, who had enough expertise to credibly doubt her. A summary of the evidence provided in that conference call is at time 8:50 through 11:40 of this video. According to that video, as of Sept 13 she hasn't made "the logs" public yet; however I thought that because there were no longer doubters, therefore there was no longer any [reason for] doubt, and that I could post an answer. – ChrisW Sep 19 '13 at 16:30
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    @Sancho In this forum, IMO, we often assume the role of "judge" and not of "expert witness". For example, the referenced/published ocean current data looks plausible to me; but, what I know, and what could you? There has been time for interested experts to dispute the data: which would have been news-worthy, and/or which would have reached the skeptics' attention. Absent any expert testimony to the contrary, I'm inclined to say "case dismissed". Of course I could be wrong, or premature in reaching this conclusion. Time may tell. – ChrisW Sep 19 '13 at 16:52
  • @Sancho businessinsider.com/… says, "Nyad, her team, and even an independent oceanographer say the speed increase was due to lucky currents." ... and, the 'prosecutors' haven't presented expert testimony to the contrary. – ChrisW Sep 19 '13 at 17:06
  • theguardian.com/sport/2013/sep/08/… said, "An oceanographer not affiliated with Nyad's team said the swimmer couldn't have picked a more perfect current to get from Havana to Key West. Mitch Roffer of Melbourne-based Roffer's Ocean Fishing Forecasting Service Inc said he got an email questioning whether Nyad's swim was a hoax, so he decided to look at the charts for himself. What he saw convinced him that she could do it." – ChrisW Sep 19 '13 at 17:12

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