Yesterday, a 43-year-old woman died during the swim portion of a triathlon up in Wisconsin. 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 consequences.
What I found to be rather significant, though, was this part of the report:
Earlier this summer, two deaths occurred during triathlons in the state. In June, Julie Silletti died while participating in the Elkhart Lake triathlon. Silletti, 54, made it to the point where she could stand up in the 400-yard swim course when she collapsed. The following month, Daniel J. Murray, 33, died during the Pewaukee triathlon a few minutes after the start of a quarter-mile swim.
We have three relatively young endurance athletes who all experienced fatal consequences during the swim course. One of them wasn’t even in the water that long when he collapsed.
We’ve gone beyond this being an incident or a series – we now have an established pattern. I personally think it’s high time the endurance sports community recognizes this potential risk and addresses it during both training and events. In other words, we need to look more at how we’re preparing people to manage both open water swimming conditions as well as the high stress/anxiety scenarios inherent with triathlons.
I’d be interested in your thoughts on this.