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2013-03-04 5:06 PM
in reply to: #4644646

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Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz
If the shock of cold water was a factor, I would expect to hear more fatalities from the polar bear swims. Do people of of it? I don't.


2013-03-04 5:27 PM
in reply to: #4644646

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Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz
Everyone can do their own research, but it didn't take long to find several articles, scholarly and otherwise, linking sudden cold water immersion with potential cardiac events on the interwebz.

Edited by ChrisM 2013-03-04 5:27 PM
2013-03-04 5:37 PM
in reply to: #4646278

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Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz

One thing (may have been mentioned) of extremely cold water and sudden immersion, is that the natural reflex is to gasp for air - obviously a problem when you are submerged.

Granted, this could be ice cold water (colder than the bay) and the wetsuit should provide enough adaptation time to avoid this.  That being said, I kept telling myself before that race to NOT GASP.  It wasn't a problem, and probably had nothing to do in this case, but I still keep that in mind.

2013-03-04 6:25 PM
in reply to: #4645593

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Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz
Marvarnett - 2013-03-04 11:39 AM

Anything CAN happen.  But if you have a heart attack the moment you hit the water and it happens to be due to Cold Shock Response, that is the fault of the person, not the race.  The water temperature was within a couple of degrees of when the race is normally run.

Once again, this is a tragedy, but if the athlete failed to do their due diligence by practicing in cold water, how is that the fault of the race?  or, if this was a 1 our of 1,000,000 chance, then it's also not the fault of the race.

Each person has a choice to jump off that ferry (which is quite the rush btw).  So to blame the conditions without blaming the athlete is disingenuous at best.

I don't think we need to be blaming either party in this case.

We don't know enough to stop these deaths at this point.  We know enough that we can take some precautions. 

It might make sense to get screened, but there were cases where people who were screened still died, and people who have known issues who don't have problems.

At a different race providing warmup swims would help, but that really isn't reasonable at Alcatraz.   About the only thing they could do is make you jog a loop around the boat and throw a bucket of water on you a few minutes before your wave starts.... at least if you were going to go into shock you might do it on the deck.

I'm not advocating these, but we shouldn't blame the victim at least not without some reason.

 

2013-03-04 8:51 PM
in reply to: #4646286

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Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz
Kido - 2013-03-04 3:37 PM

One thing (may have been mentioned) of extremely cold water and sudden immersion, is that the natural reflex is to gasp for air - obviously a problem when you are submerged.

Granted, this could be ice cold water (colder than the bay) and the wetsuit should provide enough adaptation time to avoid this.  That being said, I kept telling myself before that race to NOT GASP.  It wasn't a problem, and probably had nothing to do in this case, but I still keep that in mind.

I find that it's more difficult to exhale when immersing in cold water.

2013-03-04 9:19 PM
in reply to: #4645224

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Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz
abqtj - 2013-03-04 9:13 AM

I think this says a ton:

 

Cardiologist Lawrence Creswell, MD, who chaired USA Triathlon's panel on deaths in triathlon last year, participated today in Alcatraz, and remarked, "This is my 4th time to do the race and the swim conditions were the roughest I've seen yet here. When I got back from the bike, there were still people just finishing the swim. My family said it took some swimmers 2 hours."
 
"I'm really shaken up from the swim," said veteran triathlete Derek Dalzell. "I've swam choppy water, I've swam Ironman distance, I grew up in Michigan and swam in March. I get it, it's tough, But today was dangerous. I told my family I loved them right after the swim. It was a very real and scary thing."

 

Shoot, it wasn't THAT bad.  I've done races in much much worse.  I mean, the waves were annoying but manageable.  They were bigger than the last time I did the race for sure, but absolutely nothing your average swimmer couldn't handle.  I don't even think the current was that bad.  I got spoofed by the buoy boat that they SAID would be the thing to sight off of...then the stupid buoy boat went WAY right of course.  By the time I realized that I literally had to make a 90 degree right turn to swim straight at the finish...90 degrees to the current.  And it wasn't hard.

I don't buy that they had swimmers in the water after 2 hours.  The swim cutoff is an hour.  If you are still in the water at an hour they pick you up and take you to shore.  They might have let that stretch 15 minutes or so but NO WAY they stretched it to two hours...they can't...they can only keep the bay closed for so long.

Anyway, all that being said...I could see the cold/anxiety/conditions combo causing enough stress on someone's heart to give them a heart attack...IF they were already prone to it.  I don't think it would happen to your average healthy individual, but I could see that if someone was a heart attack waiting to happen then the stresses of this start could definitely trigger it.  There is something to be said for the fact that there hasn't been a death in 33 years doing this race.  If it was JUSt the cold/anxiety/conditions combo it would have happened before...IMHO.



2013-03-05 7:10 AM
in reply to: #4646533


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Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz
jldicarlo - 2013-03-04 9:19 PM
abqtj - 2013-03-04 9:13 AM

I think this says a ton:

 

Cardiologist Lawrence Creswell, MD, who chaired USA Triathlon's panel on deaths in triathlon last year, participated today in Alcatraz, and remarked, "This is my 4th time to do the race and the swim conditions were the roughest I've seen yet here. When I got back from the bike, there were still people just finishing the swim. My family said it took some swimmers 2 hours."
 
"I'm really shaken up from the swim," said veteran triathlete Derek Dalzell. "I've swam choppy water, I've swam Ironman distance, I grew up in Michigan and swam in March. I get it, it's tough, But today was dangerous. I told my family I loved them right after the swim. It was a very real and scary thing."

 

Shoot, it wasn't THAT bad.  I've done races in much much worse.  I mean, the waves were annoying but manageable.  They were bigger than the last time I did the race for sure, but absolutely nothing your average swimmer couldn't handle.  I don't even think the current was that bad.  I got spoofed by the buoy boat that they SAID would be the thing to sight off of...then the stupid buoy boat went WAY right of course.  By the time I realized that I literally had to make a 90 degree right turn to swim straight at the finish...90 degrees to the current.  And it wasn't hard.

I don't buy that they had swimmers in the water after 2 hours.  The swim cutoff is an hour.  If you are still in the water at an hour they pick you up and take you to shore.  They might have let that stretch 15 minutes or so but NO WAY they stretched it to two hours...they can't...they can only keep the bay closed for so long.

Anyway, all that being said...I could see the cold/anxiety/conditions combo causing enough stress on someone's heart to give them a heart attack...IF they were already prone to it.  I don't think it would happen to your average healthy individual, but I could see that if someone was a heart attack waiting to happen then the stresses of this start could definitely trigger it.  There is something to be said for the fact that there hasn't been a death in 33 years doing this race.  If it was JUSt the cold/anxiety/conditions combo it would have happened before...IMHO.

I agree. This was my first time doing alcatraz and while it was choppy I never felt like it was dangerous. In fact once I got in some sort of rhythm I actually looked around several times and just thought about how cool it was to be out there. I made the mistake of heading toward the swim exit a little too early and ended up having to swim back toward it 50 yards or so against the current which was not hard, I just swam further than I needed to. I was surprised how fast the swim went by. They really stressed over and over to swim straight across the current toward various landmarks and I think that was what made the difference. Seeing how I overshot by heading toward the exit at the very end if you did it much earlier I can see how you would have easily been one of the people they had to reposition. It was definitely a challenging swim, but those who say it was too dangerous, too cold, or should have been cancelled I feel are being overly dramatic. When signing up they never give you the impression it is an easy event. With all that said I am so sorry that someone didn't make it and my thoughts are with his family.
2013-03-05 9:10 PM
in reply to: #4645295

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Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz

Bevie - 2013-03-04 7:40 AM Why did they move the race to March? I have a friend who is doing the swim in early June out there. Not sure if it's a tri or just the swim.

 

The June date conflicted with the America's Cup.

2013-03-06 11:38 AM
in reply to: #4644646


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Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz

Just found this video showing a swimmer being rescued.

I wasn't rescued; I swam through this.  But it was definitely my roughest swim ever.  These waves came up about 5 minutes after we jumped off the boat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smX3YKyYvHw

2013-03-06 12:11 PM
in reply to: #4648607

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Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz
Looks like average water out on Lake Erie.  I mean, there's some chop but it doesn't strike me as horrendous.
2013-03-06 12:32 PM
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2013-03-06 12:41 PM
in reply to: #4644646

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Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz

No matter what is done differently, a small percentage of people will die on long swims.  The deaths will be blamed on mass starts, bad conditions, or whatever.  It's really pretty simple....people die.

They die running, walking, eating, driving, having sex, sleeping, watching TV, just sitting around, reading, arguing, rock climbing, and yes.....swimming, among about 1000 other ways to stop breathing.

I didn't see anything over the top with those conditions.....certainly a bit rougher than your avg. lake swim, but in a wetsuit, quite a bit of that is mitigated.

I'm sorry for the family of the person who died in the race. 

 

 

2013-03-06 12:46 PM
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2013-03-06 12:51 PM
in reply to: #4648765

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Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz

tkos - 2013-03-06 12:46 PM I am more concerned with the huge number of people getting pulled from the swim rather than the 1 death. You are right, a death can always happen even if all precautions are taken. But people not being able to handle the conditions is something we can deal with. And if you know that the swimmers can at least make the distance under the current conditions, you have lessened the chances of drownings or panic attacks (lessened, not eliminated). 

I don't think you can possibly know that........and someone will still die....then what?

I DO see where you're going, and Iunderstand your point of making an attempt to "make sure" someone can handle the swim.....but I don't think you can.  Someone will still die....it's what we do.

2013-03-06 2:21 PM
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2013-03-06 2:26 PM
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Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz
tkos - 2013-03-06 2:21 PM

You at least try to make sure by making the ability to get into the race demand it. You need to apply for many difficult swims around the world before you are allowed to take part in them. You need to prove you can handle the conditions.

It is either that or we just throw our hands up and say, first come first serve and if you die we weep and carry on. 

Again, the shear number of people being pulled from swims like this, St George, NY city Tri, all go to show that organizers are letting people that maybe shouldn't be there, but they are doing nothing to stop them from being there.

Sure the 2 people that died in those events (Alcatraz and NYC) were actually decent swimmers and may have died regardless, but it would also be nice to know that the volunteers and aid that is in the water is focused on the real problems, and not those that panic or have no ability to deal with the conditions. 

And I know of at least one of those swims where someone died last year. (I'm sorry, I don't know the name or the race.....I saw it posted here over the summer....if you are familiar with long distance swimmers/races than I'm sure you know who I'm talking about). 

Again, I understand what you are trying to prevent.....I just don't think you can.  Someone will occcasionally die taking part in these events.  Eh....someone will occasionally die taking part in any event.



2013-03-06 2:46 PM
in reply to: #4644646

Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz

Fran Crippen

We have a local 2 mile ow swim here that requires a lifeguard checkout a few weeks prior to the swim, unless you did it the year prior.  Even one multi-time winner had to do the checkout swim.  It's not impossible.

For destination races, provide proof of a similar swim.  However, there will still be issues with conditions.  Someone that swims solely in a calm lake may have the fitness but not the experience/skills to deal with something like Alcatraz.

 

2013-03-06 3:58 PM
in reply to: #4649014

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Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz
ChrisM - 2013-03-06 12:46 PM

Fran Crippen

We have a local 2 mile ow swim here that requires a lifeguard checkout a few weeks prior to the swim, unless you did it the year prior.  Even one multi-time winner had to do the checkout swim.  It's not impossible.

For destination races, provide proof of a similar swim.  However, there will still be issues with conditions.  Someone that swims solely in a calm lake may have the fitness but not the experience/skills to deal with something like Alcatraz.

There will be occasional incidents even with physical checkups and I don't think a qualifying race tells you much about how someone's body will react in the next one.

On the other hand you might have someone who's quite experienced in cold water but hasn't done an official race yet - like a northern cal surfer.

I think people need to accept personal responsibility.  Mountain climbers still climb, football is still played - most physical activities have some level of risk.

2013-03-06 4:10 PM
in reply to: #4644646

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Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz

Also a French guy died crossing the channel last year and he wore a wetsuit, had a heart attack.

My swim coach has successfully swum across the English Channel a number of times once as a double crossing and an attempted triple (still on his to do list).  On his first attempt at 18 years old he ended up having CPR on the boat.  he was in peak condition but not fat enough to do a cold water swim.  Hypothermia went under the boat and lost consciousness.  He was very well trained for the crossing.

Has the research gone into number of deaths in running vs cycling vs swimming - distance vs sprint - age groups/gender etc ...which has the most risk of death?  Also long term effects on health after an endurance event if any?  And then of course the risk to the heart of sitting on the couch being inactive...

I know of two triathletes locally who died cycling last year - heart attack - super fit guys in their early fifties.

Of course the open water is not the best place to have a cardiac episode....

2013-03-06 4:20 PM
in reply to: #4649138

Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz
spudone - 2013-03-06 1:58 PM
ChrisM - 2013-03-06 12:46 PM

Fran Crippen

We have a local 2 mile ow swim here that requires a lifeguard checkout a few weeks prior to the swim, unless you did it the year prior.  Even one multi-time winner had to do the checkout swim.  It's not impossible.

For destination races, provide proof of a similar swim.  However, there will still be issues with conditions.  Someone that swims solely in a calm lake may have the fitness but not the experience/skills to deal with something like Alcatraz.

There will be occasional incidents even with physical checkups and I don't think a qualifying race tells you much about how someone's body will react in the next one.

On the other hand you might have someone who's quite experienced in cold water but hasn't done an official race yet - like a northern cal surfer.

I think people need to accept personal responsibility.  Mountain climbers still climb, football is still played - most physical activities have some level of risk.

I 100% completely agree.  That's a great philopsophical position.  That has been disproved by human nature for the last 1000 years or so

However, as an attorney and defense lawyer, I know how insurance companies work, and I can foresee some sort of qualification evidence in order to cover events.

Is it foolproof?  What is?  But I read a report over on ST where a woman wrote, paraphrased, "the RD should never have llowed me to jump off that boat."  Clearly, people are not willing to objectively look at their own capabilities, so it seems it will be up to the RD at some point to say no (which of course, raises the specter that when he/she says "yes," and something goes wrong, now they have liability:  hence the checkout/qualification requirement).

Looking back, my first tri with a .5 mile OW ocean swim had a requirement to get signed off by an instructor or lifeguard.  I am not in favor of these types of things, but if the alternative is no coverage (read: no race), then I'd do it.

ETA - I have to point no further than BT, which is generally good about discouraging people from swimming without being properly prepared, but we see those questions all the time. And, there are some experienced people saying don't sweat the swim, it's short, ride/run instead



Edited by ChrisM 2013-03-06 4:22 PM
2013-03-06 4:45 PM
in reply to: #4644646

Master
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Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz

also the occurrence of deaths happening in the swim portion, may be simply it's the first part of the tri.

if reverse tri's were the norm, perhaps the deaths would occur at the run.

if it's gonna happen, most likely it will at the start, the anxiety is high, you are at rest, then near instantly going to race speed.

I mean, we see this happening in marathons...



2013-04-04 11:29 AM
in reply to: #4644646


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Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz

According to this newsletter from the race director, the victim had in fact done the race before.

 

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=qbp9zicab&v=001cNWX07JYSkSfRtKyOQVO9eCf-X9WBUoMinNWbYeNYsTQ4X_ia-8z9tBQWrx4urRywi5R0P-UycDolmWC9IqLmeRbyxUHFNie4-_G3GXsHo9blLtrf6Tj-_lxguHvulm9-OGE1GvG5rLoKwsz6VsL6g%3D%3D

2013-04-04 12:21 PM
in reply to: #4644646

Expert
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Subject: RE: Swim death at Alcatraz
"Again, the shear number of people being pulled from swims like this, St George, NY city Tri, all go to show that organizers are letting people that maybe shouldn't be there, but they are doing nothing to stop them from being there."

This is absurd. St. George had gale force winds come up 20 minutes in to the swim. It was relatively calm prior to that. If the winds that came up would have been present at the start the swim would have been canceled, it had nothing to do with organizers 'letting' people be there.

How many people would be 'let in' if one of the requirements would be having swim experience in gale force winds? I would be let in, because I do have experience both in gale force winds and open ocean swimming. I chose to DNF at IMSG(after 2 prior finishes) simply because I didn't feel safe in the conditions.



Edited by LittleCat 2013-04-04 12:25 PM
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