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Windsor triathlete bitten by Muskie during open-water swim in Lake St. Clair

Matt Gervais needed 13 stitches in his hand after being bitten by fish during training swim

Photo by: Brad Reiter/ Matt Gervais Facebook

Multiple Ironman finisher Matt Gervais puts it simply: “Friday (the 13th) was not a good day.”

In training for a half-distance race, Gervais had just started a 3 km open-water swim in Lake St. Clair with his friend Thierry Guertin when he felt a sharp, burning pain in his hand. He looked down to see a Muskie had bitten him and was still clamped to his hand.

“Carnage,” he told CTV news. “It was a lot of pain. Right away blood dripping down to my elbow. It hurt really bad, right away.”

He called out to Guertin, who helped him get to shore and out of the water. They called an ambulance and eventually Gervais would need 13 stitches in his hand.

“Just thought I’d note a couple things about the crappy swim Thierry and I had on Friday (the 13th) morning,” Gervais wrote in a post on Facebook. “First, it goes without saying, but this was a freak occurrence! I’ve heard that the murky water probably contributed to the mistaken identity out in the lake. It wasn’t a purposeful attack on a human, but more of a mistaken snack on my hand that was thought to be small prey.”
“Secondly, just want to stress the importance of not swimming alone,” he continues. “While that certainly wasn’t fun, it would have been infinitely more traumatic had I not had Thierry out there with me. We were about 50 yards from shore when this happened, and he helped me swim in and get up a steel break wall ladder into a backyard, then helped me back to the cars as a bloody mess to call Blaire (his wife). Couldn’t imagine what that would have been like alone.”
Gervais has recovered and hopes to be able to compete in just over a week.
“I’m doing pretty well now,” Gervais said today. “My hand is still swollen, sore and my fingers are numb, but I have been running and riding the trainer. Stitches came out today and healing is looking pretty solid, so the prognosis is good that I will be able to start next week in Muskoka.”
Gervais is married to Blaire Kniaziew Gervais – the couple are amongst the country’s best age group triathletes, having competed at the Ironman World Championship twice. She’ll also be racing in Muskoka. The Kniaziews are one of Canada’s most successful triathlon families – one year five of six family members competed at the world championships as part of Canada’s national team. In 2015 we deemed the world-championship win by Kirstie (nee Otto) – she’s married to Blaire’s brother Duffy – as our performance of the year.