Nyad on Netflix: The shocking true story behind film on Diana Nyad and why is it controversial

Nyad is based on the real story of long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad - here's why the Netflix film has been causing controversy

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Nyad is finally coming to Netflix after it was released in cinemas in late October. The biopic is inspired by the true story of long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad who at 64-years-old became the first person to ever swim the Florida Straits.

The directorial debut from Academy Award-winning documentary filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (Free Solo, The Rescue), Nyad is adapted from the memoir, "Find a Way" by Diana Nyad. Featuring two of Hollywood's most legendary actresses, Annette Bening (American Beauty) and Jodie Foster (Taxi Driver) in the lead roles of Nyad and Bonnie Stoll, the film is already sparking rumours about Oscar nominations.

However, the dramatic story of endurance has been causing controversy. Here's everything you need to know about the true story behind the Nyad movie on Netflix.

What is Nyad about?

Nyad is the latest biopic to land on Netflix. The film is inspired by the true story of long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad who at the age of 64 became the first person to swim the Florida Straits without the aid of a shark cage.

The Netflix synopsis reads: "A remarkable true story of tenacity, friendship and the triumph of the human spirit, NYAD recounts a riveting chapter in the life of world-class athlete Diana Nyad. Three decades after giving up marathon swimming in exchange for a prominent career as a sports journalist, at the age of 60, Diana (four-time Academy Award nominee Annette Bening) becomes obsessed with completing an epic swim that always eluded her: the 110 mile trek from Cuba to Florida, often referred to as the “Mount Everest” of swims. Determined to become the first person to finish the swim without a shark cage, Diana goes on a thrilling, four-year journey with her best friend and coach Bonnie Stoll (two-time Academy Award winner Jodie Foster) and a dedicated sailing team."

Is Nyad based on a true story?

Nyad is inspired by the real story of long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, who set herself the challenge of swimming the Straits of Florida - a stretch of 110 miles from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida. Despite trying to make the swim three decades prior, she started again when she was 60-years-old. It would take four years and multiple tries before Nyad would succeed in 2013 at the age of 64, to become the first person to ever make the swim without the help of a shark cage.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times after achieving her goal, Nyad said: "One is, we should never ever give up." Adding: "Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dreams."

Why is the Nyad film controversial?

Nyad's swimming achievement has been called into question, with those sceptical questioning her surge, ability to make a speech following the swim and the use of a specially designed suit which she wore to protect herself from jellyfish stings. The long-distance swimmer has also been accused of exaggerating claims about her past swimming achievements.

Nyad director Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi addressed this in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, explaining: "This film is not about a record." She continued: "It’s about a woman who wakes up at 60 and realises she’s not done. And that woman has flaws. I think that if we were dealing with a man, people wouldn’t be picking on him quite as much."

When can I watch Nyad on Netflix?

Nyad is available to watch on Netflix from Friday November 3, the film has already premiered in cinemas, dropping on Thursday October 20.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.