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Diana Nyad defends record swim in face of skepticism

Sep 11, 2013, 10:20 AM EDT

Diana Nyad Reuters

Diana Nyad spent three and a half hours answering questions from fellow swimmers on a conference call Tuesday night, many of whom were skeptical about her Cuba-to-Florida swim that wrapped up in Key West on Sept. 2.

In an interview with NBC News, Nyad said categorically that the 100-plus-mile swim over more than 50 straight hours was done honorably.

“I did this swim with my own body and my own mind, fair and square, squeaky clean,” she said.

Nyad, 64, said she didn’t cling to or climb aboard a boat at any point during her fifth attempt of the endurance swim. She wore a mask and a protective suit to guard against jellyfish stings.

“I was in the open sea the whole time,” Nyad said.

Her speed more than doubled her average of 1.5 miles per hour at some points, drawing skepticism, according to The Associated Press. Nyad said the speed increased because of fast-moving currents.

“Don’t I deserve a little luck, after I’ve had so much bad luck on my previous four tries,” Nyad said.

Nyad said notes taken by her navigator during the swim and two official observers will be made available.

“Many of us are pursuing this as a technical matter,” Richard Clifford, a New York attorney and a kayaker for open water swimmers, told the AP. “Having the information out there helps us analyze it, measure it, test it, smell it, you know, decide if it looks right and is right, and you guys keep saying it is. So, let us look at it.”

Nyad, who plans to swim in a pool in New York’s Herald Square for 48 straight hours for charity next month, is not surprised by the skepticism.

“When you set a huge world record like this, you’ve got to vet it,” Nyad said. “You’ve got to ask every question. You’ve got to put the swimmer under a microscope and make her answer all these questions.”

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