The Ironman Triathlon is one of the most grueling and challenging marathons ever created. Athletes from various walks of life take part in it to push past boundaries. There are some who aim to complete the marathon at a faster timing compared to the previous year. Then, there are others who simply wish to touch the finishing line. This year, the Ironman U.S. Championship took place in New York City and New Jersey. Unfortunately, tragedy stuck on Saturday. An athlete died following  a medical problem during the swimming leg of the triathlon.

These Ironman triathlons tend to be a full day event. It kicked off with a 2.4 mile swim in the Hudson River this year. During the swim, an athlete was found to be experiencing distress. He was quickly pulled out of the water and brought to a nearby hospital in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Unfortunately, the 43 year old man did not make it. The organisers have yet to confirm on the cause of his death. However, an autopsy is going to be done to determine it. “On behalf of all of us in the triathlon community, we mourn his death and send our condolences to his family and loved ones,” said the organisers in a statement.

Earlier during the week, officials had already issued a warning on partially treated sewage being discharged into the Hudson River. This happened while a broken pipe was being fixed upriver in suburban Westchester County. The discharge was stopped in the end. Tests were also conducted to ensure that the river was safe for swimming. This was revealed by the organisers.

Over the past few years, deaths in triathlon competitions have been occurring frequently. Most of these deaths are usually during the swimming leg. The Hudson River has been known to be one of the more dangerous race course. Just last summer, two athletes passed away during the swimming leg of the Nautica New York City Triathlon. In 2008, a male athlete also passed away in the same triathlon. With deaths occurring regularly, the USA Triathlon formed a task force to examine the fatalities.

The swimming leg is normally the first leg in most triathlons. The reason is because athletes are still fresh and least injuries will likely occur. However, it also means that the river would be overcrowded as everyone will be dashing in at once. Some athletes have indicated how uncomfortable it is to bump and thrash for space with others, especially in the water.

The Ironman Triathlon requires a level of fitness before one can participate. Even some of the fittest athletes aren’t able to overcome the swimming leg. It isn’t because they are weak or lousy, but it is because the open waters are unpredictable and conditions vary. In Singapore, we always emphasise the importance of swim skills. Hence, if you have yet to arm yourself with it, then check out what Happy Fish Swim School has to offer today!