Dr. Kevin Harris, a cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital led the study and presented results Saturday at an American College of Cardiology conference in Florida. The Minneapolis institute’s foundation sponsored the work and tracks athlete-related sudden deaths in a national registry. The risk is mostly from heart problems during the swimming part of the triathlon. For the study, researchers used records on 922,810 triathletes competing in 2,846 USA Triathlon-sanctioned events between January 2006 and September 2008.
And while that risk is low – about 15 out of a million participants – it’s not inconsequential, the study’s author says. “They might prepare for a triathlon by swimming laps in their pool. That’s a lot different than swimming in a lake or a river.” Doug Landau agrees, and recommends that athletes new to triathlon spend time and practice open water swimming. Also, the Herndon Reston sports injury lawyer suggests starting with short events before jumping into an Olympic, Half or Full Iron Man distance triathlon. Open water swimming, presents unique challenges to even seasoned pool swimmers and endurance sport athletes. Landau recommends finding open water swim clinics, LEGAL lake swim practice sessions with an experienced coach, kayak, etc., and acclimating to wearing a wetsuit, pacing and navigating (“sighting”) without lane lines.