After swimming from Cuba to Florida, Diana Nyad makes it clear that her victory is the result of teamwork in Netflix’s sports biopic ‘Nyad.’ As the film depicts, Diana was able to achieve her dream with the help and sacrifice of her team/crew members. While the movie mainly follows a handful of them, in reality, around 40 individuals were part of Diana’s near-impossible endeavor. From her trainer Bonnie Stoll to the medic Jon Rose, these team members embarked on a journey that ended up being nothing short of historic. Their determination intrigued us to find out where the major ones are now!
Bonnie Stoll: The Trainer
Diana was trained by none other than her best friend Bonnie to swim over a hundred miles from Cuba to Key West. Although Bonnie had worked as a trainer for years, the role of a swim coach was new. Still, she joined hands with her best friend to make the latter’s dream a reality. Bonnie led the 40-member team that accompanied Diana in an escort boat. She provided her friend with food and water. Her presence during the swim was a source of strength and motivation for Diana. Bonnie ended up living in a house Diana bought for her. They still see each other regularly as they live just ten minutes apart.
Bonnie is currently based in Los Angeles. In 2016, Bonnie and Diana founded a walking initiative and non-profit named EverWalk, which propagates walking with a vision of turning the country “from a sedentary nation to a nation of millions of walkers.” She also gained a new friend in recent times, who is none other than two-time Academy Award winner Jodie Foster, who plays her in the film. What started with discussions for the movie didn’t take long to be more friendly. Nowadays, Bonnie and Foster watch NFL games and play Push, a card game, together.
John Bartlett: The Chief Navigator
Bartlett was the chief navigator among Diana’s crew. He became a part of the swimmer’s journey with immense experience in windsurfing, sailing, and sea kayaking. As someone who had lived over three decades in Florida, he knew the Gulf Stream exceptionally, which immensely helped Diana’s expedition. Since Diana and Bonnie set out to make the latter’s dream a reality with financial constraints, Bartlett didn’t even ask for money in return for his expertise. Diana described him as a “genius” and “all-round consultant” in her book ‘Find a Way.’
Celebrating the life of my dear friend and navigator John Bartlett. He will be forever in our hearts. pic.twitter.com/AwxuBJmPRN
— Diana Nyad (@diananyad) December 19, 2013
Bartlett died on December 10, 2013, due to heart failure in his sleep, aged sixty-six. He was at his home in Alva, Florida, where he had been living with his life Elke Margaret Thuerling. They had been together for twenty-one years. “The one heartbreak suffered since the swim has been the loss of our genius, John Bartlett. Only sixty-six, John died of heart failure three months later,” Diana wrote in ‘Find a Way.’
Dee Brady: The Captain
Dee Brady was the captain of the driver team. “Dee Brady was the owner of Voyager and all in for what we had now come to call the Xtreme Dream. Dee was about my age, a hippie all the way. An ex–New Yorker who reads the Times cover to cover every day, who worked her butt off and retired early to freewheel around the world on her boat, an aficionado of small-venue live-music events, ready on a dime five cents change for any and every adventure,” Diana wrote about her captain in ‘Find a Way.’ “Dee was a calm, steady voice from the day we met her. Not only did she become our main Driver for Voyager but she became our Team mediator. She keeps quiet and listens. No dramas, no gossip. Dee is just cool,” the swimmer added.
Not much is known about Dee’s life after Diana fulfilled her dream, which is not a surprise since she used to travel immensely, doing various jobs. However, she did join Bonnie to watch the premiere of ‘Nyad’ at the 50th Telluride Film Festival.
Angel Yanagihara: The Box Jellyfish Expert
One of the major threats Diana faced while swimming through the Gulf Stream was box jellyfish. Since the same was one of the most venomous marine creatures, Diana wanted the assistance of a biochemist, which led her to Angel Yanagihara. “When our Team approaches her [Yanagihara] for an education, we have no idea what a brilliant mind we are about to encounter. And from our first conversation, busy as Angel is, traveling around the world’s oceans in pursuit of more knowledge about these animals, she immediately agrees to dive into our project,” Diana wrote about Yanagihara in ‘Find a Way.’ She is also a diver.
Yanagihara is currently based in Hawaii. She works as an assistant research professor at the University of Hawaii, conducting “basic, translational, and applied research involving marine organisms.” She also serves as the director of the Pacific Cnidarian Research Laboratory, which is a part of her university. In 2014, Yanagihara founded Alatalab Solutions, which “specializes in venom research and the development of over-the-counter preparations to provide relief from jellyfish stings and fire ant bites.” The company’s most prominent product is Sting No More, a relief cream.
Luke Tipple: The Shark Expert
Luke Tipple is a renowned shark expert who joined Diana’s crew with a six-member group. Tipple was interested in sharks from a very young age, which inspired him to become a marine biologist and diver. He was involved in the production of several ‘Shark Week’ documentaries for Discovery Channel. Currently, he hosts ‘Nature Minute’ and ‘Shark Week’ podcasts for discovery. His association with the network also includes the show ‘Nature is Fly,’ which follows Tipple and his family as they learn new things about nature.
Today I’m on a special mission for @sharkweek on board @SouthwestAir, I think they’re giving me a plane✈️ ! Follow along on my IG story https://t.co/FSezND1rl3 #SharksTakeFlight @Discovery pic.twitter.com/IPtD7qw9Gs
— Luke Tipple (@luketipple) July 11, 2018
Tipple is an executive producer at Delve Media, a video production service based in Bend, Oregon. The company’s projects include Discovery’s ‘Stranger Sharks,’ ‘Lair of the Sawfish,’ etc. The shark expert is also a published author who gained acclaim for his illustrated children’s book ‘Sharks Don’t Scare Me,’ which is envisioned as the first book in the ‘Adventures of the Aquatic Aussie and Friends’ series. He is married to Aria Johnson Tipple.
Jon Rose: The Solo Med Team
Jon Rose served as the only EMT in the crew of Diana. Jon was stung by a jellyfish during Diana’s unsuccessful 2011 crossing. “Jon is six foot three, 205 pounds, so less likely to feel full effects of the venom, compared to me at five-six, 142 pounds, yet he’s writhing on the deck in distress. He gasps that his breath rate has gone down to three per minute and he’s worried about surviving,” she wrote about him in her book. Since Rose has kept his personal life private, not much is known about his current whereabouts. However, he was an integral part of the crew that assisted Diana to cross the Gulf Stream.
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