A competitor at this weekend’s Ironman 70.3 North American Championship in St. George, Utah died during the swim in Sand Hollow Reservoir near Hurricane, Utah.
“We are incredibly saddened to confirm the death of a race participant at the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship St. George,” Ironman posted in a statement the Ironman 70.3 St. George Facebook page. “The athlete received immediate medical attention upon swim safety personnel recognizing the distressed athlete during the swim portion of Saturday’s race. We share our greatest sympathies with the family and friends of the athlete and will continue to offer them our support as they go through this very difficult time.”
The athlete’s identity has not been disclosed.
A 2017 study on triathlon deaths found that “The majority of deaths occur in the swim portion of the triathlon,” the lead study author Dr. Kevin Harris told Reuters.
“During this portion of the race, the athletes likely experience an adrenaline surge as they enter the water and are competing in close proximity to other athletes, and in some cases with environmental conditions that are difficult to prepare for,” Dr. Harris continued. “We don’t understand the exact cause of death in each athlete, and some swim deaths may be related to drowning.”
The study, which looked at data from 1985 to 2016 found that 135 people “died suddenly or had a cardiac arrest … The victims were 47 years old on average and 85 percent were male.”
Of those incidents, 90 occurred during the swim portion of the race.
Dr. Chris Willer wrote this story for Triathlon Magazine Canada in 2016 that looked at a study on “the possible association between in-water deaths during the swim portion of the triathlon and a cardiovascular phenomenon called Immersion Pulmonary Oedema (IPO).”