US & Canada

Cuba-US swimmer Diana Nyad to face her critics

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Media captionDiana Nyad: "You are never too old to chase your dreams"

Diana Nyad is planning to meet sceptics who have questioned her 53-hour swim from Cuba to the US.

In online forums and social media, marathon swimmers have suggested Ms Nyad, 64, may have been pulled along or transported by a support boat.

Ms Nyad, whose team says a stretch when her speed doubled was down to favourable currents, will meet marathon swimmers on Tuesday.

Her swim was the first across the Florida Straits without a shark cage.

Alexandra Crotin, a spokeswoman for Ms Nyad, said: "Diana is proud of what she and her team accomplished last week, and she is committed to complete transparency."

She is due to meet "her peers in the swimming community" on Tuesday, Ms Crotin added.

GPS data

The swimmer's progress during the 110-mile (177-km) journey was tracked online via GPS by her team, and some say the data is inconsistent.

Andrew Malinak, a Seattle long-distance swimmer, told the Associated Press news agency: "When you know how hard it is, you kind of want those details."

Specifically, critics have focused on a seven-hour stretch when Ms Nyad's average speed was more than 3mph (4.8km/h), compared with her 1.5mph average.

The rules of the swim meant she was not allowed to hold on to the support boat at any time.

But her team told the Associated Press over the weekend that Ms Nyad was aided only by favourable currents.

"At some points we were doing almost four miles an hour," navigator John Bartlett said.

"That's just the way it works. If the current is in your favour at all, that explains it."

'Not about hate'

He said data collected by him and two observers would be submitted to three open-water swimming associations and the Guinness World Records for verification.

Ms Nyad walked out of the water on to the Florida beach a week ago after leaving a Havana yacht club early on 31 August.

Following four failed tries - one in 1978, two in 2011 and one in 2012 - she had vowed that it would be her last attempt to cross the Straits.

Debate about Ms Nyad's swim has been split on the Marathon Swimmers Forum website.

One user, rosemarymint, wrote: "We all love a good heart-warming story where a human being achieves something absolutely extraordinary, but the initial data do not pass the smell test."

Another, ZoeSadler, said that other marathon swimmers would be less successful in attracting sponsorship for a 21-mile English Channel swim, "given that a 64 year old lady can do 103 miles".

"That's why we want to see independent verification and data to support this extraordinary swim," wrote the commenter. "It's not about 'hate'. I actually want to believe this is true."

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