Triathlons can pose deadly heart risks

Dave sent me a link to a very compelling article on how triathletes are much more prone to sudden death incidents than marathoners.

Practically all of these incidents occur during the swim part of an event. The article states that the primary culprit is not being properly acclimated to an open water environment. It also cites the anxiety of competition as well as the presence of “hundreds of people thrashing around” as being factors that contribute towards excess stress on the athletes’ hearts.

I agree with all these points. Most triathletes training for the Chicago Triathlon only swim in the lake a handful of times before the event. In fact, many do all of their training exclusively in an indoor swimming pool only to find out on race day that:

– The lake is not 80F
– It’s not enjoyable having a horde of goonish strangers flailing about on all sides of you

Remember, swimming is supposed to be a fun low impact workout – not a water equivalent of the “running of the bulls.”

3 Comments

  1. Russ Klettke
    April 10, 2009

    I have competed in more than 45 International Distance triathlons since 1987, including every single Chicago Triathlon since that year, and only twice have worn a wetsuit. I find them to be unnecessary in August in Chicago, perhaps because I am able to train in Lake Michigan starting in June (no wetsuit then, either). And let’s not forget the incident of a competitor dying in the 1990s because he was OVERHEATED before the race from his wetsuit. Also, everyone knows the buoyancy from the wetsuit makes the swim easier and faster, which strikes me as ridiculous – why don’t we also put little motors on our bikes then? The culture of triathlon, originating in the much colder Pacific Ocean, tells us wetsuits are de rigueur. The 2007 Chicago race was abnormally cold due to a storm three days before the event, and that is one time I wished to have a wetsuit; however, I was able to complete the swim regardless.

  2. diver dave
    March 30, 2009

    now this is one very interesting artical steve.
    from now on i promise to try to swim in lake michigan all year round in order to stay in open water swim shape. besides swimming pools are boreing as hell
    diver dave


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  1. […] While the incident is still under investigation, there’s a lot of evidence indicating that triathlons can cause excess stress on athletes’ hearts which may lead to life threatening […]

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