Long distance swimmer Diana Nyad opened up about her alleged sexual assault by a swim coach when she was 14 years old in an op-ed for the New York Times.
The coach was not identified by name. Nyad, now 68 years old, wrote that the incident took place in 1964, and that the molestation continued for several years. She details the graphic nature of the abuse in her story for the New York Times.
Nyad first told a teammate about the incident when she was 21 years old. The friend also said that she was molested by the same coach. He was fired from Nyad’s school but moved onto other coaching jobs. The coach died in 2014 but Nyad noted that he was a celebrated coach in the swimming community.
Nyad says that she was motivated to share her story and speak out after other women have shared their accounts of sexual harassment through the #MeToo campaign on social media. Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney is among athletes that have come forward with their own stories. Maroney says that former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar abused her when she was 13 years old.
“Those who have found a platform to speak, and to be heard, within recent weeks have most likely forged unexpected connections as a result,” Nyad wrote in the Times. “Whenever I mention my case in front of a live audience, invariably women come up to me afterward and let me know that they too are survivors. They immediately command my full attention with a particularly steady gaze and they say, “The same thing happened to me — my stepfather.” Or “I’m a survivor, too.” Then we hug, long and hard. And we often find tears for each other. We connect. It’s our version of #MeToo.”
Nyad is famous for swimming from Cuba to Florida in 2013. The 103-mile swim took her 53 hours and took place without a shark cage.