September 9, 2013

Skeptics question Nyad's swimming feat

From news service reports

MIAMI - Diana Nyad's 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida has generated positive publicity and adoration for the 64-year-old endurance athlete -- along with skepticism from some members of the small community of marathon swimmers who are questioning whether she accomplished the feat honestly.

Diana Nyad
click image to enlarge

Diana Nyad views a fan’s photo Tuesday during a parade in Key West, Fla.

The Associated Press

Mickey Hart

On social media and the online Marathon Swimmers Forum, long-distance swimmers have been debating whether Nyad got a boost from the boat accompanying her -- either by getting in it or holding onto it -- during a speedy stretch of her swim.

"When you know how hard it is, you kind of want those details," said Andrew Malinak, a Seattle long-distance swimmer who crunched the data available from the GPS positions tracked on Nyad's website and concluded that he didn't trust what he saw.

Nyad's navigator and one of the swim's official observers told The Associated Press this weekend that Nyad didn't cheat and that she was aided during the rapid part of her swim by a swift current.

According to Nyad's team, she finished the swim Monday after roughly 53 hours in the water, becoming the first to do so without a shark cage.

Malinak said the spike in Nyad's speed after 27 hours of swimming is particularly questionable -- she went from her normal pace of roughly 1.5 mph to more than 3 mph, then slowed down again as she approached Key West.

Nyad's navigator John Bartlett said the increased speed was due to the fast-moving Gulf Stream working in her favor, nothing more.

Neuroscientist helps drummer use his head to light up show

SAN FRANCISCO - Former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart has a new piece of equipment on his latest tour -- a cap fitted with electrodes that capture his brain activity and direct the movements of a light show while he's jamming on stage.

The sensor-studded headgear is an outgrowth of a collaboration between Hart, 69, and a University of California, San Francisco neuroscientist who studies cognitive decline and ways to prevent it.

Hart has invested time and money exploring the therapeutic potential of rhythm. He wore the electroencephalogram cap while making his new album "Superorganism" and tried to capture the feedback it gave him in sound.

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