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Another triathlon swim-related death
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The Boston area had it's first outdoor du/triathlon this past Saturday and, unfortunately, there was another medical-related issue that lead to a participants death. The following article has the most details I've yet seen.

The swim consisted of a 1/4 point-to-point (straight line) swim with an in-water start. The water was a chilly 59 degrees but, otherwise, it was one of the best Spring mornings (weather-wise) yet this year. According to the article, the participant was a 40 year old male. It's unclear as to his racing experience.

I participated in the duathlon and we were the first wave off. As we returned to the park on the bike leg, an ambulance passed us with its sirens blaring. My race mate was in the last wave (just after his wave) and she saw the ambulance heading into transition. Unfortunately, they weren't able to save him.

He left behind three youngsters. So sad.
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [HandHeartCrown] [ In reply to ]
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40 ouch, way too young. I wonder if there was a heart issue he wasn’t aware of. Either way very sad especially with 3 kids left behind, condolences to all those involved
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [HandHeartCrown] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks HandHeartCrown - I saw this on the news. That race is very close to where I live, but I did not participate. Some thoughts that cross my mind:

Be sure to lookout for your fellow triatheletes; advise and guide newbies, and lookout for each other on the course, especially during the swim leg. Watch for fellow athletes who may be in distress. It's certainly difficult to completely prevent something like this from happening, but we can all strive to be more diligent out there. It's not all about making the podium or getting a PR. Try to go easy on swim starts where your nerves, anxiety and heartrate will be at a higher level. Come together as a community and do everything to prevent tragic events like this from happening. Triathlon should not be this dangerous. My condolences to this man's family.

"The first virtue in a soldier is endurance of fatigue; courage is only the second virtue."
- Napoleon Bonaparte
Last edited by: Don_W: May 14, 19 2:55
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [HandHeartCrown] [ In reply to ]
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An eyewitness in this article mentions how quick and professional the emergency response was, with a kayaker on scene in 10-15 seconds. I wanted to link it given that the other article just mentions that the FD "responded" but the FD has always been staged onsite with an ambulance. I've done this race many times although I withdrew this year due to injury. The race organizer has an excellent reputation and always does a great job.

The water is always cold this time of year, and this race allows warmups. I'd strongly reinforce the importance of a warmup and getting over the shock of the cold water prior to the race.

My sympathy to the family of the deceased, a real tragedy.
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [HandHeartCrown] [ In reply to ]
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HandHeartCrown wrote:

According to the article, the participant was a 40 year old male. It's unclear as to his racing experience.

It mentions in the article that he has been doing triathlon for a few years. I knew Dave maybe ~7 years ago, he wasn't doing tri or other endurance sports then. I checked obstri and he had never done a WTC race. It's safe to say it wasn't his first triathlon but he was a relative novice. I wonder how much, if at all, the temperature of the water was a contributing factor. Sub 60 can be a real shock. Regardless, very sad.

Dimond Bikes
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [tttiltheend] [ In reply to ]
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That's an interesting article, I wonder if the person waving their arms for help was the victim or someone who noticed the victim and thus a by stander who was getting attention for help. I believe the Red Cross suggests for lifeguards a 20s timeline to notice the victim and reach the victim. Getting to them within 20s in an open water environment is pretty damn good professional rescue.

It sucks for swim related issues because it's like there's seemingly no "close calls".....Well actually I'm guessing there are tons of close calls at just about every race and those all go smoothly...there's likely 3-4 "rescues" of people at every race who get pulled and or quit/ask for help at your local run of mill event (probaly more for IM events with 2k+ people). But it just seems like when it's a "real" emergency within an open water environment you are in serious trouble. And not for a lack of safety personal but I just think for the environment you are in within the context of an event with what 200/300/2k other people.

-USAT L2 coach, M.S. Exercise Physiology
https://www.instagram.com/alloutmultisport
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [HandHeartCrown] [ In reply to ]
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Very sad to read this story and my thoughts/condolences with his young family.

59 degrees too cold - - especially this time of year in MA, when locals have little opportunity to do OWS and acclimate during the previous 9 months.

Lake water doesn’t get to mid-high 60s around here until mid June. Race directors surely know that.
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [PowerPlay] [ In reply to ]
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Very sad indeed.

The issue of temp vs HR or heart effects is interesting. Since reading several recent reports of fatalities in swims (and the 1st one I'm aware of in the UK occurring late last season), I've been more aware.
Coupled with the new watch (polar) that records HR whilst swimming.

Whilst I'm never going to be out 1st at an IM, I'm pretty comfortable in OW, relaxed (or so I think), certainly never feel stressed etc. I enjoy the swim, I dont see it as 'the thing to get out of the way to get to the real start of the race'. I have decades of white water kayaking behind me, so don't fear the water etc.
Anyway... OW season started prob 3 or so weeks ago here in the UK for some tri venues. But its still a bit chilly.
I've been in water at circa 10-11C (50-53 F) and also maybe 12-12.5 C (i.e up to about 54C) in the past few weeks. Typically done 2 to 2.5km.
The interesting (scary ??) bit is the HR has been HIGH. Very high. Even though i thought I was going steady, no big efforts ot anything.
The HR was up to 170+bpm (when I'd have expected 130 ish for my perceived level of effort - ie mainly 'steady eddy' pace that I'd go for 5k)
I realise it could be false readings, but so far on other sports the HR tends to read low, not high, if my skin is cold. And the HR trend does follow the pace I'm doing - it increases if my pace increases, drops when I slow/stop etc. So the HR graph trends look credible.
The high HR really surprised me.
(I'm 50 YO, peak HR on a 'gonna throw up' running hill rep is around 180).
Maybe many people's HRs are sky high if they are stressed at all and it's cold?

Thoughts ?
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [ericlambi] [ In reply to ]
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ericlambi wrote:
HandHeartCrown wrote:

According to the article, the participant was a 40 year old male. It's unclear as to his racing experience.


It mentions in the article that he has been doing triathlon for a few years. I knew Dave maybe ~7 years ago, he wasn't doing tri or other endurance sports then. I checked obstri and he had never done a WTC race. It's safe to say it wasn't his first triathlon but he was a relative novice. I wonder how much, if at all, the temperature of the water was a contributing factor. Sub 60 can be a real shock. Regardless, very sad.

According to USA Triathlon Rankings Athlete Results he did 3 tris in 2017 and 4 in 2018, including the Gut Check Triathlon last October, a late season cold water tri.
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [BobAjobb] [ In reply to ]
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Quote:
Thoughts ?
While your heart rate might actually be as high as your watch suggests, best to verify by measuring yourself. I don't care what the manufacturers say, HR measured in the swim is problematic. Measure for 15s and multiply by 4. Easy.
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [PhilipShambrook] [ In reply to ]
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PhilipShambrook wrote:
Quote:
Thoughts ?
While your heart rate might actually be as high as your watch suggests, best to verify by measuring yourself. I don't care what the manufacturers say, HR measured in the swim is problematic. Measure for 15s and multiply by 4. Easy.

Yeah.
Now I've noticed this apperent occurrence, i'll pay more attention 'live' at the next couple of sessions and see how the real pulse compares to the watch - I only looked at the HR readings / graphs once back home / sync'd.

Your questioning of how reliable the device HR readings may be, is noted.
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [BobAjobb] [ In reply to ]
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For those of us that have been around a long time and watched this stuff, it has become apparent that the highest heart rates for most people in races come in the swim. You experience is the normal one, PE does not match the HR, and for a lot of folks, that catches up with them later on as panic, or worse. And doesn't matter if you were a swimmer or not, just how it is. Just be glad you figured it out, and can adjust your PE setting in your brain to accommodate the discrepancy that appears to exist on the swim portion of a triathlon..
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [monty] [ In reply to ]
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monty, if you were to address a group of swimmers heading out at the start of a race, any snippets of wisdom suitable for a pre race announcement you'd suggest? distilling down to the shortest, most impactful statement you could make?

http://www.PatGriskusTri.com
2020 Races: USAT State of CT Age Group Championship Sat June 20th (Oly/Du/Sprint) Wed eve July 8th, Sprint Tri Sat July 18th Hopkins Vineyard Tri at Lake Waramaug http://www.HopkinsVineyardTri.com
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [PowerPlay] [ In reply to ]
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PowerPlay wrote:
Very sad to read this story and my thoughts/condolences with his young family.

59 degrees too cold - - especially this time of year in MA, when locals have little opportunity to do OWS and acclimate during the previous 9 months.

Lake water doesn’t get to mid-high 60s around here until mid June. Race directors surely know that.

59 is not too cold with a wetsuit, but I would never race in water that temperature without a warmup prior to the race to get my body used to it. Plus there's a duathlon at this same event if you don't want to swim in cold water.

FYI, there's a gofund me page for the family. He left behind a wife and 3 young kids. https://www.gofundme.com/david-schultz
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [Twilkas] [ In reply to ]
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I guess I would tell them to make sure and warm up sufficiently if it were just one thing. After that, I would tell everyone to just have a great race, beginning with what might appear to be a swim that was too slow. Unfortunately this kind of advice is like relationship advice, you know what would be best for someone, but they just have to go find out on their own and find out what is what. Good news is that most people end up in some sort of panic in their early triathlon swims, some people have that feeling forever. So once told to take it easy, with the memory of the last swim panic, they usually are in a better place to listen to advice from than on..Nothing like feeling like you are going to drown, or have a heart attack, to open your mind to proper pacing at the start of a race..
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [monty] [ In reply to ]
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thanks man. there are a lot of pre race announcements and people zone out, hearing "blah blah blah" and i get that.

just before the start i like to give one last harder hitting piece, limited to 15 seconds or so. "if you dont think it's 'your day' if anything feels 'off'? no shame in playing it safe, putting your arm up for help and re-asses, this is a recreational pursuit and you have people wanting you home safe today, so be smart, got it?!" i'll ask for acknowledgement that all heard me, including waves waiting to go off, get their agreement with a hand in the air if they heard me. i've actually told people to shut up if they're not listening, i dont care, they can hate me all they'd like. I've had people thank me
for it afterwards.
best of luck to all racing this season. be smart, be safe and there's no shame in playing it safe!

http://www.PatGriskusTri.com
2020 Races: USAT State of CT Age Group Championship Sat June 20th (Oly/Du/Sprint) Wed eve July 8th, Sprint Tri Sat July 18th Hopkins Vineyard Tri at Lake Waramaug http://www.HopkinsVineyardTri.com
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [monty] [ In reply to ]
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monty wrote:
open your mind to proper pacing at the start of a race..

this exactly...it's so easy to forget what "your" swim race pace is once the race starts.
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [casper3043] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks very much for the latest posts, folks.
My own swim to one side, I have a couple of good friends doing their 1st half distance race this weekend. And the water is still not tropical around here.
I'd like to see them have a great day, not a bad one.
I'll try to instill some of these wise words in them.
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [HandHeartCrown] [ In reply to ]
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There is a GoFundMe posted for Dave's family here. It would be great to get some support from the broader triathlon community.

https://www.gofundme.com/david-schultz

Dimond Bikes
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [monty] [ In reply to ]
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monty wrote:
For those of us that have been around a long time and watched this stuff, it has become apparent that the highest heart rates for most people in races come in the swim. You experience is the normal one, PE does not match the HR, and for a lot of folks, that catches up with them later on as panic, or worse. And doesn't matter if you were a swimmer or not, just how it is. Just be glad you figured it out, and can adjust your PE setting in your brain to accommodate the discrepancy that appears to exist on the swim portion of a triathlon..

This is spot on.

I swam what I thought was an easy pace on my last full-distance, wetsuit swim in very warm water. (28degrees C, don't ask me why they let people wear wetsuits and I didn't want to give up the easy speed...probably make a different choice in the future in the same circumstances, as will the RD after I spoke with him about it.)

Ended up swimming an accurately measured 3800m in 51:35 and was shocked to see my average HR at 165 and peak at 174. Totally not what I would have guessed based on my PE and long, smooth strokes in the water. For comparison, my bike avg was 140 and run 155.

I was fine from a safety point of view, but it sucked out the gas from my bike and didn't have any fizz left until the run which went fine.
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [Darren325] [ In reply to ]
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Cold water and wetsuit are big problem for me. I panic and get hypothermia. I went to OWS practice early last year and three people out of 50 had to leave due to hypothermia. I think water temp was about 62-63. I just couldn’t breathe and continue. I felt like I was going to die. All three of us were very skinny. Things can happen but it’s so sad this person died. My deepest Condolences to his family and friends.
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Re: Another triathlon swim-related death [HandHeartCrown] [ In reply to ]
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A Boston TV Station did a piece on David Shultz's widow. Evidently, a recent physical deemed him "healthy".
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