Every successful person needs someone who can push them beyond their limits and that’s exactly what Bonnie Stoll did for marathon swimmer Diana Nyad. Bonnie is credited for being Diana’s trainer and swim coach, helping her achieve the unbelievable feat of swimming from Cuba to Florida on a 110-mile course in 53 hours. Their relationship is portrayed in Netflix’s sports biopic ‘Nyad,’ which highlights Stoll’s role in helping Diana reach the finish line. The drama film also highlights the kind of risks Stoll took to help Nyad achieve her long-time dream but ends without revealing where she is now. Beyond the four years of friendship shown in the film, there’s a lot more to the real Stoll that warrants a look.
Bonnie Stoll: Diana Nyad’s Best Friend
Reportedly born in Stamford, Connecticut, Bonnie Stoll was always an athlete and loved playing racquetball. She was competitive and felt that her coaches, growing up, helped her become who she is now. After obtaining a Physical Education undergrad degree from the University of Connecticut, Bonnie taught high schoolers for a while and also excelled on a professional racquetball tour in the 1980s. She later became a personal trainer but she met Diana Nyad during her racquetball days.
During a tournament in Poughkeepsie, Diana, who was also playing racquetball at the time, asked for Bonnie’s help. They even reportedly dated for a while but soon realized they synced much better as friends. This led to many hours of training and working out together, after which they became inseparable best friends, almost like sisters. While they are both very different personalities, Bonnie’s nephew Jason has mentioned that the one thing they have in common is how competitive they are. While Bonnie has always been more practical, as depicted in the film, Diana is more set on her notions and determined about what she wants, which eventually helps her achieve her goals.
Bonnie and Diana started a fitness company, BravaBody, which did very well for five years. Eventually, when Diana turned 60, and Bonnie was 58, they decided to team up again to help Diana achieve something no one had done before, at least without a shark cage. Bonnie was always a trainer, but she had never been a swim coach before. But she took on the job and, despite knowing all the risks, supported Diana all the way to help her achieve her dreams, even if it meant facing many unsuccessful attempts along the way.
Diana, who is also a motivational speaker, has credited Bonnie as being her rock throughout her journey. After breaking the record together in 2013, Bonnie even spoke about the importance of having the right mindset to achieve something, despite people’s age and how important the role of a coach is. Just like Bonnie in the film, she also believes that a good coach needs to understand the athletes they are working with completely to push them in their important moments and help them reach their targets.
Bonnie’s Life After the Historic Swim
Bonnie Stoll is now still going strong in her friendship with Diana and they both are the co-founders of EverWalk, which is a walking initiative to help people understand the need to get up and keep the movement going in their bodies. She has previously advocated walking as well and as a retired trainer, she feels the need to let everyone know how good walking is for the heart. Bonnie feels that everyone of any age should make walking their priority because it has too many benefits. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her dog and seems to be enjoying her life.
As Bonnie recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Cuba to Key West swim, which is depicted in the film, she was also excited to spend time with Jodie Foster, who wanted to know her better to play the character on screen. While they met for the movie, Bonnie has now become good friends with Foster, and they meet to watch football games and play card games together.
Bonnie is excited about the possibility of the film getting an Oscar but hasn’t kept her hopes high too much. Currently, apart from her work for EverWalk, she is also rooting for the film on Nyad to do well. She was last spotted in West Hollywood, California, on Halloween, sporting swim-themed costumes with her friends. She even got to reunite recently with the team that helped Diana succeed in 2013, which included the box jellyfish expert Angel Yanagihara, John Bartlett‘s widow Elke Thuerling, and Dee Brady, the captain of the boat that accompanied Diana during her famed swim.