Dyana Nyad

It's Time To Reconsider Diana Nyad and Jack Nelson

Diana Nyad says that she was sexually assaulted by her swim coach, Jack Nelson, starting in 1964.  Most recently to the New York Times, she told her story in graphic detail. Nyad is a vexing case to write about, primarily because she has told a lot of tales about her open water exploits.

As Nyad was garnering national coverage for her Marathon swimming exploits, there was a frothing rage in the Marathon swimming community. Many of the things that she said just didn't add up. 

So, there's ample evidence that we shouldn't trust Diana Nyad when she starts telling us about her open water swims. Those lies should not, however, cast doubt on what she has to say about Jack Nelson.

Nyad has consistently accused Nelson, despite the fact that the most powerful people in swimming don't acknowledge her. In fact, they instead lauded Nelson, who to this day sits in two Hall of Fames, both the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and the American Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame. 

I'm going to write to a coach today, a coach I've made no bones about my admiration for. I'm going to ask them how they feel about sitting in the same Hall of Fame with Jack Nelson. If someone you admire is on this list, you might consider doing the same. 

In the broader cultural upheaval we are all witness to, it's time to revisit what Dyana Nyad has been telling us for decades. We can right this wrong, but only if we choose to believe her on this. Nyad has gained little and lost a lot by speaking out.

Imagine the message we are sending to people who are being abused right now. They can confidently tell themselves that not only will they not be believed, but their coach will be held in high esteem and never pay for his crimes. By believing Nyad we can send a better message to the most vulnerable people in our sport.