Last weekend was Ironman Louisville. There was an unforeseen tragedy that occurred that you might have heard about. A 46 year man named Mark Wezca died during the swim portion of the race. Reports state that he was less than 8 minutes into the swim before trouble hit and he unfortunately did not survive. Early reports are that the "autopsy results are consistent with drowning complicated by underlying cardiac disease". This was meant to be a great day for this man, yet it turned into tragedy for his friends and family.
Some people think that triathlons needs to be looked at in order to make it safer for the participants. I think I have heard of maybe 4-6 more deaths in triathlons this season across the country. While I am sadden anytime someone suddenly passes, I do not blame triathlons.
I do not know any of these people that lost their lives, but I would argue that none of them woke up that morning and decided to race. I imagine that they spent time training and probably would have argued that they felt great. It could have been an issue with a problem they never even knew they had. It could be a million things.
Some people have suggested that the USAT issue some sort of certificate certifying that a person is capable of swimming in open water, that they have passed some sort of test. I think this is not the answer because I do not think there is an answer. I do not believe there is a way to guarantee ones safety in an event of this type.
I have also had a scare in the water, and it was because I panicked. I couldn't breathe, could not get calm, and I really thought I was going to get yanked out by race officials. Luckily, I was able to calm down and get into a rhythm and still complete the swim. I also think most triathletes will share a similar story if asked about their first couple of swims.
While it is a tragedy that any life is ever lost, it is really a very small percentage of racers. I do not have anything to compare other races, like marathons or anything, but I do not blame the marathon for the deaths suffered from those races. We know what we are getting ourselves into, we know the risks and we know it is a challenge, and that's why we do it.
My thoughts and prayers go out o the families of triathletes lost and I pray that they find comfort.