TriathlonTrialLawyer Doug Landau is asked, “Why do the majority of Triathlon fatalities occur during the swim portion of the race, when competitors are still fresh, and are not at risk for overheating or orthopedic injury ?” Statistically, almost all the fatalities reported in multi-sport events in the United States have been from the often frantic, frenetic open water swim portion of the race. Doug Landau has had anxiety attacks from coming into freezing cold water in several events early in his career, but now employs several strategies to deal with this difficulty. Swimmers can’t easily signal for help or slow down to rest during swimming as they can in the biking or running parts of a triathlon, said Dr. Kevin Harris, a cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. Harris led a study 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. Dr. Harris, who also has competed in these events, noted that rescuers may have trouble spotting someone in danger in a crowd of competitors in the lakes, rivers and oceans where these events typically are held.
Of the 14 deaths identified, 13 occurred during swimming; the other was a bike crash. Autopsies on six of the victims showed that four had underlying heart problems. Two others had normal-looking hearts, but they may have suffered a fatal heart rhythm problem, Harris said. A search of the Minneapolis registry and the Internet found four other triathlon-related deaths from 2006 through 2008 beyond those that occurred in the officially sanctioned events. “While not a large risk, this is not an inconsequential number,” Harris said. Herndon Reston sports injury lawyer Doug Landau recommends reading tomorrow’s post, with doctors’ recommendations for preparing and safety.