WOWSA Denies Ratification of Diana Nyad’s Cuba-Florida Swim

Photo Courtesy: FINIS, Inc.

The World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) Advisory Board has announced that it will not ratify Diana Nyad‘s 2013 swim from Cuba to Florida.

Nyad swam from Cuba to the Florida Keys and was the allegedly first to do so without a shark cage. In 2013, according to WOWSA, Nyad “sought ratification of the Cuba-to-Florida swim from any organization that would review it,” but her 2018 request for ratification submitted to WOWSA lacked “any supporting documentation.”

The swim has been a point of controversy since it took place for several reasons, including not having an established set of rules for the swim, it being declared a record without formal ratification, according to the WOWSA report.

The swim has returned to a hot topic with the release of a Netflix film “Nyad” based on Nyad’s swim and life.

“The suggestion was made, following the undertaking of the swim, that the swim had been completed in conformity with rules and procedures promulgated by an organization, the Florida Straits Open Water Swimming Association (FSOWSA), which did not formally exist at the time of the swim. Additionally, there were contradictory statements from crew members during critical hours when observer logs lacked entries for over 9 hours,” the WOWSA report states. “After careful consideration and review, members of the WOWSA Advisory Board have decided to deny the ratification of Diana Nyad’s record attempt for the swim from Cuba to Florida in 2013.”

WOWSA’s decision was based on the information it could confirm about the swim.

“During our evaluation, we came across rules from an association whose existence at the time of the swim, or at any point, could not be verified. We found a document with rules that seemed to have been retroactively dated, and there were inconsistent statements from crew members. Observers who play a vital role in recording swim details and ensuring rule compliance, often holding more significance than GPS data, had missing entries for a span of over 9 hours,” the report stated. “In light of these factors, we’ve chosen to preserve the sport’s integrity by denying the ratification of the swim.”

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