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Post piece on triathlon deaths
CREATED: 11/14/11 by wmichaeljones REPLIES: 14
wmichaeljones's ravatar wmichaeljones    JOINED: 1/12/11    POSTS: 17
Post piece on triathlon deaths
POSTED: 11/14/11 1:12 PM

Thought this might be of interest to many people. It's not incredibly scientific, but still a good read.

morunner66's ravatar morunner66    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 686
RE: Post piece on triathlon deaths
POSTED: 11/14/11 2:12 PM

The first race had to be Columbia.

Ironman Louisville - who does an Ironman as his first tri?

mosered's ravatar mosered    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1655
RE: Post piece on triathlon deaths
POSTED: 11/14/11 2:14 PM

Good article, that tracks with what some observers have thought about the deaths.

I remember panicking once at the Lake McDonnell swim where, tho a bilateral breather, I involuntarily breathed on the right side for the first hundred yards. Surprised at how many people don't try out a wetsuit, or do an open-water practice, before attempting a race.

Seems like the start of tris should almost be like the start of marathons, where they say you should deliberately go slow for the first mile, lest adrenalin make you go overly fast at first. Go slow and get into your rhythm if you're suffering from nerves.

vatriathlete    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 682
RE: Post piece on triathlon deaths
POSTED: 11/14/11 2:14 PM

lot of people do an ironman as a first race, whether that is a good idea or not is up to each person.

the article really doesn't point home to one simple fact, that triathlons are an extreme sport that puts tremendous strain mentally and physically on the body even with great training its still a huge risk to do 3 sports back to back with hundreds of poeple around you.

finnegen's ravatar finnegen    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 56
RE: Post piece on triathlon deaths
POSTED: 11/14/11 3:17 PM

If it could be made logistically possible, have a warm up area in the water near the swim start. I have felt the panic attacks jumping in to the swim starts much more in river swims than lake swims. In the lake swims I can go to an area near the course get in, do drills, get use to the water and just get over the overwhelming adrenalin surge that occures when one jumps in to the water. When my wave is called I jump out, run over to the start, get right back in the water and do the swim. This has done a great deal to eliminated the shock I get when you must jump in cold and start swimming, then are run over by the next wave as you try to get use to it.

SeanG's ravatar SeanG    JOINED: 4/8/09    POSTS: 159
RE: Post piece on triathlon deaths
POSTED: 11/14/11 3:20 PM

I'm glad there is more focus on this, because the races need to address the problem. They need to allow swimmers to acclimate to the water by warming up before the wave start. Jumping into cold water and immediately racing is a recipe for disaster.

And these big city races like Nations need to put a cap on how many participants there are. No way for the kayakers to safely monitor a race that size. Most importantly, though, people need to practice open water swimming before racing.

morunner66's ravatar morunner66    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 686
RE: Post piece on triathlon deaths
POSTED: 11/14/11 3:25 PM

Wonder if the time trial start as was done in DC Tri alleviates any anxiety?

Hopefully with the Wave One swims in this area, at least local triathletes (experienced and newbies) have a better chance of taking advantage of open water swim practices.

wmichaeljones's ravatar wmichaeljones    JOINED: 1/12/11    POSTS: 17
RE: Post piece on triathlon deaths
POSTED: 11/14/11 4:09 PM

I also wondered about the connection between this anxiety issue/swim deaths and the time trial starts. Seems like the time trial starts are more orderly and would eliminate a level of stress for alot of people. Couple that with the fact that most races don't have a swim warm up (and that it would be logistically difficult) and I think the time trial start is the way to go.

The first triathlon I ever did was an ocean swim and the conditions were terrible; the race director came down to the wire about whether or not to proceed. I can say that, as it was my first race, my anxiety level was very high and the rough conditions made it worse. Given the explosion in triathlon participation over the last ten years, it seems like drastic measures need to be taken to make sure people are warmed up, prepared and given a manageable race environment (although, like vatriathlete mentions--it's still a triathlon. It's going to be demanding mentally and physically).

merlinkim's ravatar merlinkim    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 285
RE: Post piece on triathlon deaths
POSTED: 11/15/11 12:38 PM

Note that one of the deaths talked about in the article was at IM Louisville, which has a time trial start. (A fact omitted in the article.) The water is also warm enough that wetsuits weren't necessary, so the cold-weather immersion issue wasn't present (I don't think, several folks in the club competed in that race this year and could confirm).

kev7's ravatar kev7    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 440
RE: Post piece on triathlon deaths
POSTED: 11/15/11 1:37 PM

You are correct that the water was very warm and non-wetsuit legal at Louisville. And with the TT start, it was the most civilized triathlon swim that I have ever participated in. Swim anxiety should not have been an issue, but each person handles the swim differently.

dsgrunning's ravatar dsgrunning    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1267
RE: Post piece on triathlon deaths
POSTED: 11/15/11 2:16 PM

The dude that died at IMLou was doing his first ever triathlon, his first ever open water swim, and was, by his family's account, always been afraid of the water. On top of that, he was taking meds for high blood pressure. Also, throw in the fact that it was in a race environment and well ... nuts!

HappyRunner's ravatar HappyRunner    JOINED: 1/15/11    POSTS: 176
POSTED: 11/15/11 4:41 PM

I'm a pretty Happy Swimmer, but having just gone through NTP this year, much of the initial stress for me comes from the constricting wetsuit itself rather than the open water. I really enjoy wetsuit swimming, but there is still that claustrophobic, constricting, slightly choking feeling at first and I can see where that could lead to panic. That some people can rent a wetsuit just for race day and have no practice/experience wearing a wetsuit is amazing to me.

Perhaps NTP should include a session on anxiety in the swim, since there seems to be a correlation between that and the deaths.

legalmoose's ravatar legalmoose    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 221
RE: Post piece on triathlon deaths
POSTED: 11/16/11 12:23 PM

@HappyRunner - We've always done at least one if not more open water swim practices for NTP, specifically to help people get used to the very different environment of OWS versus pool swimming. How to minize anxiety is part of that discussion, and I'll make sure to emphasize that in our talks with the new NTPers for 2012.


tgalbert's ravatar tgalbert    JOINED: 9/30/10    POSTS: 398
RE: Post piece on triathlon deaths
POSTED: 11/16/11 1:10 PM

I'll put in my plug that I intend to organize another OWS workout opportunity in at Lake Anna this coming April of 2012. Keep your eyes peeled.... Maybe some NTP folks will join? We had a blast last time. Great opportunity to experience some cold water and group swimming.

{edit} Only requirement is that dying is strictly forbidden. Those not adhering to this stipulation will be disciplined accordingly, and asked to leave.

Sorry for hijacking the thread.


morunner66's ravatar morunner66    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 686
RE: Post piece on triathlon deaths
POSTED: 11/16/11 2:44 PM

Post did live Q&A today. Link to transcript is posted above.

Trevor - I will likely have my SUP board by then - maybe available to volunteer as a course person etc.

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