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6 Facts You Should Know About Netflix’s New Hit Film NYAD

In extreme sports, athletes push themselves through dangerous terrain. These outdoor challenges highlight people accomplishing things that some believed weren’t humanely possible. In some cases, people will question whether or not it happened at all. These achievements and criticism surround swimmer Diana Nyad – and they are again front and center with the new Netflix movie NYAD.

swimming movie about diana nyad

Diana Nyad began setting distance records in the 1970s, and her pursuits have brought her around the world into dangerous waters. The new movie highlights this as she works to swim from Cuba to Florida. However, some have questioned what she has achieved and brought new light to inconsistencies in her accomplishments. 

Here are some things to know about Diana Nyad and the new Netflix movie about her.

The Directors Know About Accomplishing The Impossible

nyad directors
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Annette Bening, and Jimmy Chin (Source: Bennett Raglin / Stringer / Getty Images)

Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin direct NYAD, and are the same team that created the Oscar-winning doc Free Solo. Chin is an accomplished outdoor athlete himself and knows something about pushing the boundaries when outdoors. Instead of filming the real-life and death consequences of climbing without ropes in Yosemite, this time Vasarhelyi and Chin took their directorial skills of documentaries to reenact what Nyad did as she crossed from Cuba to Florida. The pair know how to make suspense even when it’s actors sticking to a script.

Box Jellyfish Will Mess You Up

A big concern for Nyad’s swim from Cuba was box jellyfish. The animal’s sting is excruciating and can even paralyze a person. Wildlife expert Coyote Peterson once put this to the test, and it looked terrible. 

Have a look:

How Do You Swim in a Shark Cage?

shark cage
(Source: Gerard Soury / Getty Images)

Dangerous swims in warm waters often call for long-distance athletes to use a shark cage. You’ve probably seen similar devices used by divers filming shark-infested waters. When Diana Nyad made her journey to Florida, she opted against the cage. In instances that use a shark cage, swimmers must avoid using the cage to rest or hold on to if they want to set a record. Most of the time, these cages are a cube with five closed sizes and an open top pulled by a boat.

Did Annette Bening Swim for the Movie?

netflix swimming movie
Annette Bening filming the movie. (Source: Netflix)

At 64-years-old actress Annette Bening is the same age Diana Nyad was during her final attempt to cross from Cuba to Florida. To film the scenes, Bening spent a year training as a swimmer, an incredible accomplishment to replicate a professional long-distance swimmer.

“It really did elevate the entire production, the way that she carried herself on set,” director Chin told Netflix.

Bening often spent four to six hours a day in the water to film the movie. 

There Are Inconsistencies in Nyad’s Story

diana nyad swm from cuba
Diana Nyad walks on the beach in South Florida after getting rescued from the water in a failed attempt to swim from Cuba to the United States. (Source: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images)

Since Nyad’s fabled swim, many inconsistencies have arisen from her initial press conference after the swim to her tell-all book.

According to the World Open Water Swimming Association, Nyad initially planned to release observer logs and GPS data, but those requests have been unfulfilled over the last decade. As a result, Guinness World Records no longer recognizes Nyad’s journey as record-breaking.

Before the film’s release, Netflix was told to add a disclaimer emphasizing the film’s dramatization of some events. 

The Controversy Has Become the Focus

Source: Netflix

With award-winning directors and big-name Hollywood stars, many think NYAD has a chance at multiple film awards. Unfortunately, with the movie’s controversy, the focus has turned to questions. 

Some have fired back, like the movie’s writer Julia Cox, who told Vanity Fair that she has no doubt that Nyad successfully completed the swim.

Only time will tell if it ends up nominated or not.

Have you seen the movie yet? What do you think?

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