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Tragedy strikes as Vineman 70.3 Ironman triathlete pulled from Russian River dies

Posted Jul 20 2012 1:05pm

Pometta An experienced triathlete has died after taking part in the Vineman 70.3 Ironman triathlon last weekend.

50-year-old Margaret Hinsdale Pometta died at Sebastopol's Palm Drive Hospital this week after she was pulled from the Russian River during the swim portion of the Vineman 70.3 Ironman triathlon.

Doctors say that Pometta suffered a cardiac arrest during the race.

“She's done triathlons in Hawaii, everywhere,” said her sister Therese Block. “We're shocked. Shocked.”

According to Pressdemocrat.com :

The rising popularity of triathlon competitions has been accompanied by increased recognition of the challenges inherent in the swim portion — often a claustrophobic, bruising experience in which dozens of swimmers are vying for position in densely crowded, chilly conditions.

Pometta, who started competing in triathlons about 10 years ago, participated in the Vineman 70.3 last year and did a practice swim along the Russian River course two weeks ago, family members said."

“She was adequately trained for this,” said her brother-in-law, Lee Block, who competed in Sunday's Vineman with her. “There's no doubt about that.”

“There's really no rhyme or reason,” he said. “We kind of keep asking ourselves what happened, and we're not coming up with anything.”

"From January 2006 to September 2008, 14 people died during triathlons — 13 during the swim leg, according to a 2010 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

USA Triathlon, the governing body for sanctioned events, last fall appointed a five-member panel — three physicians and two race directors — to scrutinize the fatalities.

In June, they had completed a preliminary report now under review by a group of medical professionals, race directors and athletes, organization spokesman John Martin said," the Pressdemocrat.com goes on to report.

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