On her fifth try, the 64-year-old U.S. endurance swimmer became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the help of a shark cage.
Marathon swimmer Diana Nyad held a lengthy conference call Tuesday night to set the ground rules for future swims from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.
Speaking with about a dozen members of the marathon swimming community, Nyad addressed speculation she had gotten into or held onto a boat during part of her 53-hour journey.
Nyad said it was her understanding of the sport that the first person to make a crossing got to set the rules for that body of water. She said her "Florida Straits Rules" would largely maintain what they all agree on: no flippers, no shark cage, no getting out of the water, never holding on to the boat, never holding on to the kayak, never being supported by another human being or being lifted up or helped with buoyancy.
She would allow innovations such as the protective full-body suit and mask she wore to shield herself from the venomous jellyfish that can alter a swim as much as a strong current. Marathon swimming purists had questioned whether that gear violated the traditions of the sport.
"It is the only way. The swim requires it," Nyad said. "I don't mean to fly in the face of your rules, but for my own life's safety, a literal life-and-death measure, that's the way we did it."
Nyad said she never left the water or allowed her support team to help her beyond handing her food and assisting her with her jellyfish suit.
"I swam. We made it, our team, from the rocks of Cuba to the beach of Florida, in squeaky-clean, ethical fashion," Nyad said.
An endurance athlete who is deeply involved in the marathon swimming community, and who helped organize other world record attempts in the sport, said that there was real "concern that Diana Nyad was becoming the Lance Armstrong of our sport."
Armstrong, of course, is the famed cyclist who won the Tour de France a record 7 times, then fell infamously from grace after he admitted to lying about taking performance enhancing drugs.
The athlete, who spoke with Serafin Gomez of Fox News Channel on the condition of anonymity, said there is real concern among the marathon swimming community over the controversy of Nyad's swim between Cuba and Florida.
"This is not without precedent... It is not like she has not done this before," the contact said referring to her last failed attempt in 2012 when she admitted to getting into a support boat at one point during the arduous swim.
"People are concerned about the purity of our sport...her crew was complicit in that attempt."
After the call, Evan Morrison, co-founder of the online Marathon Swimmers Forum, said Nyad and her team addressed most of the issues that concerned the members of the forum.
He was pleased by Nyad's pledge that all the observations and notes taken by her navigator, John Bartlett, and two official observers of the swim will be made available for public examination.
"I wouldn't expect to discover anything untoward, but I think it will help us understand a lot better what happened and give us a fuller picture of the achievement," Morrison told The Associated Press. "That's just part of the process. This was a great first step."
Nyad's speed, at some points more than doubling her average of 1.5 mph, has drawn particular scrutiny. Bartlett attributed her speed to the fast-moving Gulf Stream flowing in her favor.
Nyad's fastest speed averaged about 3.97 mph over a 5.5-hour period over about 19 miles on Sept. 1, crossing the strongest parts of the Gulf Stream, which was flowing at a favorable angle, Bartlett said.
"What you're seeing is the combination of the speed of Diana propelling herself in the water and the speed of the current carrying us across the bottom," he said.
Nyad and her team said published statements by her doctors that she went seven hours without eating or drinking were mistakes, and while there were hours when she didn't eat solid food, she never went more than 45 minutes without water once she was well on her way from Cuba.
Not all of the open water swimmers on the call questioned Nyad's methods or track.
"I feel sorry for the questions you were just asked, understanding that when you're the first person to do something, the questions you're asked are rather ridiculous," said Penny Dean, who set records swimming across the English and Catalina channels. "I think the only thing she needs to show are the logs of the swim."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.