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Legendary swimmer Diana Nyad opens up about sexual assault as a teen

The out lesbian was assaulted by a male coach as a youth.

Distance Swimmer Diana Nyad Attempts To Swim In Pool For 48 Hours In Manhattan's Herald Square
Diana Nyad is a hero for distance swimmers around the world.
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Diana Nyad, the legendary distance swimmer who was the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage, is breaking her silence about the sexual assault by a coach she experienced as a young swimmer.

Nyad’s account, which she shared in the New York Times, is graphic:

I was dead asleep in the master bedroom when it happened. Out of nowhere, he was on top of me. He yanked my suit down. He grabbed at and drooled onto my breasts. He hyperventilated and moaned. I didn’t breathe for perhaps two full minutes, my body locked in an impenetrable flex. My arms trembled, pinned to my sides. He pleaded with me to open my legs, but they were pressed hard together. If breath gives us force, that day I could feel the strength in my body from the polar opposite — from not breathing. He ejaculated on my stomach, my athletic torso I was so proud of now suddenly violated with this strange and foul stuff.

Nyad’s public revelation has drawn praise from many people across the sports world, including this legend who has had to fight for equal rights all her life:

Reports of sexual assault by coaches have trickled out over the years.

Now, with the national conversation after the accusations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein, the flood gates seem to be opening in the sports world, not just in Hollywood. Nyad said as much to TMZ. Gymnast Aly Raisman recently added her name to the long list of athletes accusing Team USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexual assault.

Hopefully by people like Nyad speaking up publicly, organizations will be more aware of their coach-athlete relationships and prevent these assaults from persisting. Each person who speaks up now saves someone else from sexual assault in the future.