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Amateur triathlete dies during swim at Phlytri: Olympic distance race held as a duathlon while police search for body

Posted Jun 27 2010 8:09pm

Phillytri2009 Tragedy struck this weekend at the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon as a 40-year old amatuer athlete lost his life during the swim portion of the amatuer sprint distance race on Saturday.

According to published reports Derek Valentino failed to exit the swim portion of the race from the Schuylkill River on Saturday as his family waited for him on the shore.

“His wife and son were waiting at the end of the swim near where the bicycles were and he never exited the water,” said Philadelphia Police Lt. Joseph Walsh. “All the swimmers have electric timers they wear on their bodies. They know he entered the water because his microchip tripped the timer.”

Police and firefighters began an intensive search for Valentino after the race and continued to search the river on Sunday morning prompting race organizers to eliminate the swim portion of the Olympic distance race turning the race into a duathlon.

"We did it out of respect for the man's family," Richard Adler, race director, said. "The competitors were very understanding, he added.

Late this evening authorities recovered Valentino's body from the water.

"I think that we are probably considered one of the safest races out there." Adler told . "But I think that this is, by nature, a dangerous sport. And I think the athletes know that going in. So we will absolutely take a look at what we did, but I truly believe we were very well covered out there, as we have been for the past six years."

The exact cause of the death remains under investigation.

File photo from 2009 race.

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