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Is the Triathlon Swim Unsafe?

Posted Aug 09 2011 6:30pm
On Sunday two triathletes died during the swim of the New York City Triathlon. Details about the deaths are still coming out but it appears both victims, a 64-yr old man and 40-yr old woman, suffered from cardiac arrest.

Fellow bloggers Jon and Joel had some thoughts if you have been in a cave and need to get caught up.

As a surprise to no one, NYC Lawmakers are already calling for changes to protect triathletes in future races.

According to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer:
"New Yorkers signed up for a triathlon - not a game of Russian Roulette," Stringer said. "Choosing to compete is a decision every athlete has to make for themselves - but it is the obligation of the city to make sure all potential risks are accounted for to the extent possible."

Personally, I feel Mr. Stringer is completely over the top in comparing triathlon to a game of Russian Roulette but does he have a point that maybe something needs to be done to mitigate possible risks during the swim?

I've seen a few ideas flowing around the triathlon message boards and was wondering what everyone here thinks?

- Should a competitor be able to prove they can swim the race distance by submitting previous race results?

- If competitor is a first timer should they be required a recommendation from a life guard or certified swim instructor?

- Or, if a first timer, should a pre-qualification swim be required to prove your swim-worthiness?

- Or should we just chalk this up as a tragic accident and not overreact and make the barriers to entry that much more challenging?

I spent this Sunday spectating at a local Sprint Tri with over 1500 competitors and it was reported about half of the entrants were first timers. I saw A LOT of people suffering on a short (non-wetsuit) 500M swim course.  Lots of ugly out there and a few people were pulled out on kayaks as well.

Normally, I would flip the NYC Lawmaker the bird and tell him to mind his own freaking business but after giving it a little more thought would it be such a bad idea to implement some type of qualifier to prove swim worthiness?

Please let me hear your thoughts?

*Disclaimer - since this is my blog I am free to change my opinion and be hypocritical on this multiple times.

Thanks for Reading,


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