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View Full Version : One more reason to NOT do triathlons!



Paul Smith
March 29th, 2009, 09:48 AM
As if the whole running thing wasn't enough:

Study: Triathlons can pose deadly heart risks
March 28th, 2009 By MARILYNN MARCHIONE , AP Medical Writer (AP) -- Warning to weekend warriors: Swim-bike-run triathlons pose at least twice the risk of sudden death as marathons do, the first study of these competitions has found.

http://www.physorg.com/news157482153.html

SolarEnergy
March 29th, 2009, 01:04 PM
As if the whole running thing wasn't enough:

Study: Triathlons can pose deadly heart risks
March 28th, 2009 By MARILYNN MARCHIONE , AP Medical Writer (AP) -- Warning to weekend warriors: Swim-bike-run triathlons pose at least twice the risk of sudden death as marathons do, the first study of these competitions has found.

http://www.physorg.com/news157482153.html

So far, in the last 20 years (or so), I have witnessed 3 deaths occurring during training sessions (none during an actual event):
- 1 Cyclist that got hit by an 11 rider paceline. The poor father did not look on both sides prior crossing the formula one race track that we often use as a cycling time trial course.
- 1 44yo man that died as a result of an indoor treadmill session (in a gym). The poor man wasn't even running. He was just walking.
- 1 48yo man died while stretching out after a weight lifting session.

Still, I like the quoted study. It outlines the fact that jumping in cold water can be very dangerous for those with a pre-existing heart condition. Would have been even more informative to know the average age of these 15 people/1 million as well as their level of experience in doing triathlon.

elise526
March 29th, 2009, 02:40 PM
It doesn't appear to be triathlons per se, but rather open water swimming and the number of people involved. If the same number of people were drawn to open water swims, the same problem would exist. I've seen experienced swimmers suffer irregular heart rhythms in meets and practices. If these same swimmers had been in open water, the consequences would have been severe.

Those drawn to just open water swims tend to be experienced swimmers and those that are acclimated to cold water. Inexperienced swimmers and those not acclimated to cold water tend NOT to show up for open water swims. They do, unfortunately, tend to show up for triathlons, thinking that they can "just get through the swim."

Perhaps the problem is that those focused mainly on running or biking underestimate how strenous swimming actually is. I've seen too many runners and bikers say they are using a swim to "recover" from a hard bike or run (I'll admit I've been guilty of claiming I'm using a swim to recover from a hard run.). There is a mentality among runners and bikers that swimming is easy. This is a dangerous mindset and perhaps leads to the number of deaths we are seeing in triathlons. Personally, I have found it less draining on my body to put in 12 hours a week of triathlon training than 12 hours a week of swimming.

Anybody who for a minute doubts their ability to get through the swim should ask for a special colored cap. Most triathlon events have these available. Also, anybody with a problem that affects his/her heart should request a special colored cap. Open water swimming is dangerous and needs to be undertaken with that understanding. I hope any swimmer out there that has any condition that affects his/her heart will not let pride get in the way of wearing a special colored cap.

Another problem is that triathletes tend to think it is weak, not smart, to DNF. I'm proud of the fact I DNFed at a triathlon in Tennessee in 2005. When I was taken to the hospital, I was told it was a good thing I stopped when I did. Stop if you feel bad - better to DNF and be alive.

Animal
March 29th, 2009, 05:18 PM
It is my belief that having a wetsuit for many triathletes makes them feel they can handle the cold water and lack of training. What most of these triathletes need is more time in the water, both in the open under different conditions and in the pool. I hope that the message gets out.

meldyck
March 29th, 2009, 05:30 PM
It is my belief that having a wetsuit for many triathletes makes them feel they can handle the cold water and lack of training. What most of these triathletes need is more time in the water, both in the open under different conditions and in the pool. I hope that the message gets out.

Would I be safer in a black & yellow polkadot suit?

MAC swimmer
March 29th, 2009, 07:39 PM
Top reasons not to participate:

5. Your more likely to suffer a heart attack. Actually, the folks reading this probably wont...but you may witness or have to assist someone who does (!).

4. The crowds....people love these things. what can you say.

3. The time to train. In order to be competetive, it takes 12-15 hours minimum/week. Time to get a good divorce lawyer...

2. The lack of athletes. While there are some very inspiring athletes that are triathletes, the vast majority are not now nor ever were an athlete in their past. I just have a hard time getting inspired.

1. The fees! After nearly 125 cycling races (road track and cyclocross), plus years of masters swimming, I was not prepared for the cost just to race...just to enter. What a rip off. Some go to charities but most go into someone's pockets.

Quick, run 20 minutes, swim 20 minutes and bike 20 minutes...congratulations, you just completed a triathlon. NOT HARD.

Cmonster
March 29th, 2009, 08:01 PM
1. I would rather die in the water hammering it than on the couch eating bacon flavored cheese curls.

2. I feel as though a lot of these "studies" are aggresively studied by those looking for a reason for why they can never do what we can.

3. I was a apart a 2 long distance tri's last year where they cancelled the swijm because of 2' waves. Many of these athletes thing they are entitled to a life changing sporting feat. However, they want to do it within 3 months and then they need rescued from death or ruin the event for those that put the time in.

4. If you can't swim, don't. Be a duathlete. It's also very respectable.

Muppet
March 30th, 2009, 12:00 AM
(posted earlier this evening in the OW area)
I wonder what USMS' Open Water Participant Mortality Rate is...

The article referenced clearly points to an issue with people swimming that shouldn't be swimming. If these tri first timers were smarter about their training, they'd try a longer, possibly OW, swim-only event before taking the deeper plunge and adding a bike and run to it. That may open their eyes (and constricted blood vessels) to a need to work at swimming more so that USAT didn't have to haul their carcasses out of lakes later on.

Unfortunately, this is a good example of survival of the fittest (and fittest in the fitness sense can also apply here). I don't think anyone has died in 25+ years of the bay swim (not a USMS race). They have some controls in place to limit this situation so that if you're not fit to swim the race, you aren't going to be allowed to swim.

The article did not point out the length of the races where the deaths occurred, but perhaps USAT could take a page from Lin-Mark's Bay Swim book and for events of Olympic distance or greater (assuming that is where the majority of deaths occur) require proof of completion of a swim-only event of 1 mile or greater. Perhaps this is where USMS can lend a hand.

Maui Mike
March 30th, 2009, 08:51 AM
1. I would rather die in the water hammering it than on the couch eating bacon flavored cheese curls.


Bet those go good with beer.
:banana:

tjburk
March 30th, 2009, 08:57 AM
I prefer Cheesy Poofs.....

Cmonster
March 30th, 2009, 09:23 AM
Bet those go good with beer.
:banana:

My wife read the post and informed me that they(bacon flavored cheese..) are probably dog treats so I made no point. Anayway, maybe if they made a bacon flavored powerbar...

Maui Mike
March 30th, 2009, 01:03 PM
My wife read the post and informed me that they(bacon flavored cheese..) are probably dog treats so I made no point. Anayway, maybe if they made a bacon flavored powerbar...

No wonder I couldn't find 'em the store --- wrong aisle.

orca1946
March 30th, 2009, 02:45 PM
The cold temp, not pool temp, can be a great shock to those who do so on poor training.

lefty
March 30th, 2009, 05:00 PM
Quick, run 20 minutes, swim 20 minutes and bike 20 minutes...congratulations, you just completed a triathlon. NOT HARD.

That is not a triathlong. It's more like, swim 5 minutes, run 20, bike 20.

SLOmmafan
March 30th, 2009, 06:04 PM
Wasn't this study like 15 people out of 1 million participants. I mean, how many people die daily in a city with one million inhabitants? I would venture to say it is well within this general range.

Also, what other factors are taken into consideration? Age, experience level, hours trained prior to event? People should be smart about proper training and medical screening - especially for those type of people who do a triathlon as part of their "bucket list"! Just a thought!

elise526
March 30th, 2009, 06:16 PM
Top reasons not to participate:

5. Your more likely to suffer a heart attack. Actually, the folks reading this probably wont...but you may witness or have to assist someone who does (!).

4. The crowds....people love these things. what can you say.

3. The time to train. In order to be competetive, it takes 12-15 hours minimum/week. Time to get a good divorce lawyer...

2. The lack of athletes. While there are some very inspiring athletes that are triathletes, the vast majority are not now nor ever were an athlete in their past. I just have a hard time getting inspired.

1. The fees! After nearly 125 cycling races (road track and cyclocross), plus years of masters swimming, I was not prepared for the cost just to race...just to enter. What a rip off. Some go to charities but most go into someone's pockets.

Quick, run 20 minutes, swim 20 minutes and bike 20 minutes...congratulations, you just completed a triathlon. NOT HARD.

5. The same thing can and has happened in masters swim workouts and swim meets.

4. The more, the merrier.

3. Many, if not most, elite masters swimmers train this much between the swim practices and the dryland workouts.

2. Really? I've seen some Olympic swimmers who could not keep up with the top of the pack in a triathlon. Somehow, I think it takes an "athlete" to run a 15 minute 5k on the end of a triathlon.

1. If you are halfway decent, you can win money and/or prizes worth more than your entry fee. Masters meets don't offer these awards.

So what if somebody can call themselves a triathlete for competing for the time you mention? At least the people are setting goals and training for something instead of living the couch potato lifestyle.

aquageek
March 30th, 2009, 06:46 PM
2. The lack of athletes. While there are some very inspiring athletes that are triathletes, the vast majority are not now nor ever were an athlete in their past. I just have a hard time getting inspired.


I don't know about this. I see a lot of superb athletes at triathlons. I'd say the vast majority are athletes.

As to fees, can't agree with you either. For about $60 I get to race for well over an hour at least, with police at intersections, get a t-shirt, a SWAG bag, enough food and drink at the end to skip a couple of meals, a closed OW course, etc. Yesterday I ate a foot long sub, two bottles of gatorade and two bottles of water when I finished. I think I consumed more than I burned off. I definitely got my $60 worth.

rtodd
March 30th, 2009, 08:59 PM
I don't know about this. I see a lot of superb athletes at triathlons. I'd say the vast majority are athletes.


You have got to be kidding. No way. The vast majority are not athletes and in way over their head in the swim. You just have to look at the times.

elise526
March 30th, 2009, 10:05 PM
I don't know about this. I see a lot of superb athletes at triathlons. I'd say the vast majority are athletes.

As to fees, can't agree with you either. For about $60 I get to race for well over an hour at least, with police at intersections, get a t-shirt, a SWAG bag, enough food and drink at the end to skip a couple of meals, a closed OW course, etc. Yesterday I ate a foot long sub, two bottles of gatorade and two bottles of water when I finished. I think I consumed more than I burned off. I definitely got my $60 worth.

Good point, geek! I forgot about the food. One triathlon I did had Subway sandwiches, big cookies, beer, and great live music. I definitely got the most out of my money there!

Rob - True there are many out there that are not good swimmers, but some of those folks can run or bike pretty darn well. Careful, there are a lot of elite runners and bikers who do triathlons who could claim that there are a bunch of former college swimmers who do triathlons that can't bike or run worth a ________. I've seen some outstanding swimmers finish at the bottom of their age-groups. They may have the best swim, but it seems that is all they can do well.

Also, you can't get an accurate idea of the time on the swims because the distances are always off. You can't even gauge running ability sometimes because even the best runners can bonk on the run after an all-out bike effort.

Ken Classen
March 30th, 2009, 10:16 PM
Would I be safer in a black & yellow polkadot suit?

Mel, I feel safer just knowing the Animal is near by. Although glare reducing smoked googles are a must. :)

aquageek
March 31st, 2009, 04:57 AM
You have got to be kidding. No way. The vast majority are not athletes and in way over their head in the swim. You just have to look at the times.

Um, it's not a swim meet. Actually, I could say the same thing at many USMS meets, other than the top two heats.

Cmonster
March 31st, 2009, 08:31 AM
It is my observation that triathlon is now being dominated by people who just can't swim and have the mentality that its ok not to even work on it. All the time I hear people really stressing about the swim before we start. I have a friend that I used to fear for during the swim, it would take him almost 30 mintes to go 400m. Why do I state all this? Becasue it affects the sport. Races get cancelled or RD's turn swim's into a second run when waves pick up a bit. I dropped $185 on Steelhead 70.3 last year to have the swim cancelled. Take out the swim and I lose my overall advantage and my qualification to compete at Clearwater.
Now lets point the finger at me, I am not a super runner, never was. I know this. So I work at it. I did the research, I asked everying, I even called my old HS XC coach for advide. After 3 years I can finally split 6 min miles/ 10k. A triathlon is 3 sports, embrace ALL 3 or do something else. I hate the overwhelming number of people who think they need to change their lives with Tri but aren't willing to put the time in to succeed at the whole.

I wanted to play football, I even tried once. I just couldn't get my once 125 lb body to be effective. I recongnize that's not my sport. Others need to do the same.

Sorry, just a short rant from somebody who thinks people who can't swim shouldn't.

aquageek
March 31st, 2009, 09:01 AM
It is my observation that triathlon is now being dominated by people who just can't swim and have the mentality that its ok not to even work on it.

This is elitist bullcrap. Adults participate in sports for a wide variety of reasons. Apparently you should only compete if you can be an absolute stud in all three sports, which is ludicrous. When 60% of Americans are obese and you can't get them to take a walk for 30 minutes three times a week, it takes a lot of nerve to tell folks who want to get fit to stay away because they don't meet your standard of swimming ability. So much for growing the sport.

I personally train with a few dozen triathletes on non swim days. Not a single one is superb at all three yet the best are pretty darn good at all three. Either way, they get enjoyment from the sport and that sport is a success story for adult fitness.

You talk about how non swimmers are ruining triathlons. Do you have this same mentality at swim meets when someone swims a very slow race? It's really not your call about what sports folks participate in.

Are triathletes annoying - yup. Are many of them just there to finish - yup. Does it impact me in any way - nope.

Cmonster
March 31st, 2009, 10:12 AM
This is elitist bullcrap. Adults participate in sports for a wide variety of reasons. Apparently you should only compete if you can be an absolute stud in all three sports, which is ludicrous. When 60% of Americans are obese and you can't get them to take a walk for 30 minutes three times a week, it takes a lot of nerve to tell folks who want to get fit to stay away because they don't meet your standard of swimming ability. So much for growing the sport.
.

So it's ok for a poor swimmer or someone with subpar training to enter a tri and not only risk their safety but, the safety of others? How am I being elitist by putting in the time to be prepared? The parameters of these races are written out, read it and decide if your ability can match the requirement. Why should people unable to complete a swim in waves be able to dictate to a RD that the first leg of the race they signed up for is not safe for everyone so it needs cancelled?

I love the involment of everyone in the sport no matter how fast they are. That is not the issue. The issue is personal safety. I do understand that some unfortunate situations occur, such as a perfectly healthy athlete dropping to a hidden heart problem. Nobody can predict that.

aquageek
March 31st, 2009, 10:38 AM
Why should people unable to complete a swim in waves be able to dictate to a RD that the first leg of the race they signed up for is not safe for everyone so it needs cancelled?

This is not a common occurrence and I believe you are confusing an isolated incident or two with a trend. Many OW swims are also canceled due to adverse conditions. I don't see the point you are making, other than trying to make people feel bad that they aren't as great a swimmer as you. Everyone knows swimming is the gate to triathlons, always has been, always will be, just deal with it and run over the bad swimmers.

I'm sorry you stunk at football and quit. I stink at basketball and played it regardless of my stinking. Proficiency is not the requirement for participation.

Cmonster
March 31st, 2009, 11:01 AM
I didn't play football because I have the know all to recongnize I may be in the way. Plus I feel it's too hard to judge a persons success based on the actions of a whole team. There are so many talented athletes that will never be seen because the rest of the team is average.

Cancelled swims are not isolated. I may have to take some time and get some numbers together.

Running over the bad swimmers is the mentality of a lot of triathletes. Not a good one. Don't feel bad about not being the next phelps, just feel bad when you get hurt because your not prepared.

aquageek
March 31st, 2009, 11:22 AM
Running over the bad swimmers is the mentality of a lot of triathletes. Not a good one. Don't feel bad about not being the next phelps, just feel bad when you get hurt because your not prepared.

Huh? I'm not gonna swim around them. It's kill or be killed in the water, take your pick.

elise526
March 31st, 2009, 01:14 PM
It is my observation that triathlon is now being dominated by people who just can't swim and have the mentality that its ok not to even work on it. All the time I hear people really stressing about the swim before we start. I have a friend that I used to fear for during the swim, it would take him almost 30 mintes to go 400m. Why do I state all this? Becasue it affects the sport. Races get cancelled or RD's turn swim's into a second run when waves pick up a bit. I dropped $185 on Steelhead 70.3 last year to have the swim cancelled. Take out the swim and I lose my overall advantage and my qualification to compete at Clearwater.
Now lets point the finger at me, I am not a super runner, never was. I know this. So I work at it. I did the research, I asked everying, I even called my old HS XC coach for advide. After 3 years I can finally split 6 min miles/ 10k. A triathlon is 3 sports, embrace ALL 3 or do something else. I hate the overwhelming number of people who think they need to change their lives with Tri but aren't willing to put the time in to succeed at the whole.

I wanted to play football, I even tried once. I just couldn't get my once 125 lb body to be effective. I recongnize that's not my sport. Others need to do the same.

Sorry, just a short rant from somebody who thinks people who can't swim shouldn't.

Cmonster - I can understand what you mean about the need to train adequately for the swim before taking on a triathlon. At the same time, it is not fair to single out the individuals who are not strong on the swim. If I sat around and really thought about it, I suppose I could get annoyed at the age group or college swimmers that come in and do a triathlon for fun and who can't bike very well (mainly because they haven't practiced it). Often they smoke everybody on the swim and then are out on the road biking before everybody else. I suppose I could complain that they get in my way of having a better bike split and make my biking portion of the race more dangerous because I have to pass them. At the same time, fast runners could complain about people like me that they have to pass when trying to run their fastest times on the end of the triathlon.

Don't blame the weak swimmers for a race director's decision to cancel the swim portion of a triathlon. Blame lawyers, our legal system, and juries.

Cmonster
March 31st, 2009, 02:08 PM
Don't blame the weak swimmers for a race director's decision to cancel the swim portion of a triathlon. Blame lawyers, our legal system, and juries.

I fully agree with this statement.

Kurt Dickson
March 31st, 2009, 05:15 PM
I was participating in IM Utah 2002 when there was a drowning and the swim was cancelled. I certainly do not mind encouraging participation, but we are all affected by the lowest common denominator. Swims have been shortened or cancelled not because it is unsafe, but because it is unsafe for a crappy swimmer. Sprint races I used to do have been whittled down from 1000 meters 15 years ago to 150-400 meters. Triathlons for the most part have "jumped the shark" for me as they have become duathlons with a chlorine spritz to start it all off.

I'm not sure I agree with value aspect of triathlon. I can go do a weekend of swimming, bike racing, or a 10k run for 20-40 bucks. Combining all three makes for a magical 80-575 dollar price tag. I believe in triathlons people are making a living out of putting races on which is not as true for swim meets or fun runs--and if people are willing to pay for it, I certainly don't begrudge anybody for grabbing the cash.

I suppose the lawyers would be a the root of all evil (always are in my universe), but the poor judgement of people from the past (i.e. bad swimmers or pre-myocardial infarction individuals, who just assumed they would be fine for a race, who subsequently cacked during their events) may have something to do with the current mental status of jumpy triathlon directors.:blah:

Paul Smith
March 31st, 2009, 05:27 PM
I was participating in IM Utah 2002 when there was a drowning and the swim was cancelled. I certainly do not mind encouraging participation, but we are all affected by the lowest common denominator. Swims have been shortened or cancelled not because it is unsafe, but because it is unsafe for a crappy swimmer. Sprint races I used to do have been whittled down from 1000 meters 15 years ago to 150-400 meters. Triathlons for the most part have "jumped the shark" for me as they have become duathlons with a chlorine spritz to start it all off.

I'm not sure I agree with value aspect of triathlon. I can go do a weekend of swimming, bike racing, or a 10k run for 20-40 bucks. Combining all three makes for a magical 80-575 dollar price tag. I believe in triathlons people are making a living out of putting races on which is not as true for swim meets or fun runs--and if people are willing to pay for it, I certainly don't begrudge anybody for grabbing the cash.

I suppose the lawyers would be a the root of all evil (always are in my universe), but the poor judgement of people from the past (i.e. bad swimmers or pre-myocardial infarction individuals, who just assumed they would be fine for a race, who subsequently cacked during their events) may have something to do with the current mental status of jumpy triathlon directors.:blah:

I'm guessing we know where you stand when someone at Nationals enters NT for the mile!

That Guy
March 31st, 2009, 07:24 PM
Triathlons for the most part have "jumped the shark" for me as they have become duathlons with a chlorine spritz to start it all off.

Yeah... although I swim, bike, and run regularly, and have done everything from sprint tris to ironman distances, I have no desire to enter a tri anytime soon. But my reason is different. I don't like transitions or anything about them. (OK, I'll admit that at the full-distance Ironman-trademarked events, there are armies of awesome volunteers that make the transitions easy, but those races are very expensive, you have to enter a year in advance, and of course you have train for it.)

Kurt Dickson
March 31st, 2009, 07:44 PM
I'm guessing we know where you stand when someone at Nationals enters NT for the mile!

NT makes me crazy. At the az state meet last weekend a bunch of NT entries causes slow swimmers to be spread across two heats rather than just one (causing me a deep indescribable proctalgia as I wait my turn). My solution is to go fastest to slowest like the age-groupers and force the races to occur rather than all this caca sandbagging that goes on in the first heat.

pwb
March 31st, 2009, 08:15 PM
NT makes me crazy. At the az state meet last weekend a bunch of NT entries causes slow swimmers to be spread across two heats rather than just one (causing me a deep indescribable proctalgia as I wait my turn). My solution is to go fastest to slowest like the age-groupers and force the races to occur rather than all this caca sandbagging that goes on in the first heat.

I'm with you. I truly think NT should be banned. If you really have no clue what your time is going to be, you shouldn't be in the race. If you've never raced in it before, you can surely swim it once in workout and then enter that time.

Ken Classen
March 31st, 2009, 09:34 PM
NT makes me crazy. At the az state meet last weekend a bunch of NT entries causes slow swimmers to be spread across two heats rather than just one (causing me a deep indescribable proctalgia as I wait my turn). My solution is to go fastest to slowest like the age-groupers and force the races to occur rather than all this caca sandbagging that goes on in the first heat.

Kurt,

In Colorado we haven't allowed no time entires at are state championship meets for years. And if I was dictator I mean director, I would declare that all 1000 and or 1650's were heated fast to slow. I've ran meets that way and it makes sense for so many reasons.

Kurt Dickson
March 31st, 2009, 09:50 PM
Kurt,

In Colorado we haven't allowed no time entires at are state championship meets for years. And if I was dictator I mean director, I would declare that all 1000 and or 1650's were heated fast to slow. I've ran meets that way and it makes sense for so many reasons.

It appears Colorado is still enlightened despite me leaving the state (Cherry Creek HS 1985).

I guess I should not be so dogmatic as I guess it's possible all 6 NT entries in the 1000 had to catch a plane..I just feel with the current system we have, the fasters swimmers that want a race are punished.

BillS
April 1st, 2009, 12:32 PM
Don't blame the weak swimmers for a race director's decision to cancel the swim portion of a triathlon. Blame lawyers, our legal system, and juries.


I'm sick to death of this kind of baseless, unsupported hit and run crap. Can you provide even one citation to a reported case affirming liability? Or a case that went to judgment? Or even a case that was filed? Please, spare me the "I heard from so and so who knows a former race director who told so and so's second cousin (twice removed) that the swim might have been canceled due to liability concerns." Provide the county and court of filing and date of judgment.

Liability releases are valid and enforceable in most jurisdictions throughout the United States, and are a strong deterrent to claims.

A quick search of all 50 states for "Triathlon and liability" turned up a whopping 22 hits. (If that seems like a lot of hits to anyone, try searching for "golf and liability", or "bicycle and liability", or "SCUBA and liability"). I found exactly one case which might be read as having a chilling effect on triathlons, Hiett v. Lake Bancroft Community Assoc., 244 Va. 191, 418 S.E.2d 894 (1992). The triathlete in Hiett struck his head on an underwater object during the swim portion, resulting in quadraplegia. Relying on about a century of Virginia case law, the Virginia Supreme Court invalidated a release and overturned a grant of summary judgment to the race organizers, remanding the case to the trial court. We don't know what happened to the case from there, but frankly, if the race organizers failed to properly check the swim area, they deserve to be held liable.

A later California decision considering the validity of releases signed by developmentally disabled minors (Santa Barbara v. Superior Court, 41 Cal.4th 747, 161 P.2d 1095, 62 Cal.Rptr.3d 527 (2007)) noted that Hiett had evidently not had much impact on the availability of triathlons in Virginia:


[fn51] The same appears to be true concerning nonprofit
sporting events. For example, as plaintiffs observe, 14 years
after the Virginia Supreme Court in Hiett, supra,
418 S.E.2d 894, voided an agreement releasing liability for future
ordinary negligence relating to participation in a triathlon,
at least 60 triathlons, biathlons, and duathlons were held in
Virginia in 2006, and at least that many have been scheduled
for 2007. (See <http://www.trifind.com/va.html> [as
of July 16, 2007].)


In short, there is no epidemic of lawsuits arising out of swimmers drowning in triathlons. Perhaps the race director canceling a swim made a smart decision, based on the conditions (too windy, too cold, large surf, lack of support vehicles, etc.) I suspect the thought of bearing the moral or human responsibility for the death or injury of a swimmer has a lot more to do with the decision than any thought of legal responsibility. And most any reputable event and organizer will have event insurance, generally available through the sanctioning organization, in place to cover the legal side.

I think your blame of the legal system is misplaced.

Cmonster
April 1st, 2009, 01:20 PM
Don't blame the weak swimmers for a race director's decision to cancel the swim portion of a triathlon. Blame lawyers, our legal system, and juries.


I still support this as I feel it has been justified.

david.margrave
April 1st, 2009, 03:25 PM
Top reasons not to participate:


1. The fees! After nearly 125 cycling races (road track and cyclocross), plus years of masters swimming, I was not prepared for the cost just to race...just to enter. What a rip off. Some go to charities but most go into someone's pockets.

I agree. I briefly looked into triathlons, to enter as a relay, and decided it was just too much of a production (pre-race briefing the day before, etc) and too expensive. I do a few open water swims every summer and that's plenty for me.

elise526
April 1st, 2009, 03:31 PM
I'm sick to death of this kind of baseless, unsupported hit and run crap. Can you provide even one citation to a reported case affirming liability? Or a case that went to judgment? Or even a case that was filed? Please, spare me the "I heard from so and so who knows a former race director who told so and so's second cousin (twice removed) that the swim might have been canceled due to liability concerns." Provide the county and court of filing and date of judgment.

Liability releases are valid and enforceable in most jurisdictions throughout the United States, and are a strong deterrent to claims.

A quick search of all 50 states for "Triathlon and liability" turned up a whopping 22 hits. (If that seems like a lot of hits to anyone, try searching for "golf and liability", or "bicycle and liability", or "SCUBA and liability"). I found exactly one case which might be read as having a chilling effect on triathlons, Hiett v. Lake Bancroft Community Assoc., 244 Va. 191, 418 S.E.2d 894 (1992). The triathlete in Hiett struck his head on an underwater object during the swim portion, resulting in quadraplegia. Relying on about a century of Virginia case law, the Virginia Supreme Court invalidated a release and overturned a grant of summary judgment to the race organizers, remanding the case to the trial court. We don't know what happened to the case from there, but frankly, if the race organizers failed to properly check the swim area, they deserve to be held liable.

A later California decision considering the validity of releases signed by developmentally disabled minors (Santa Barbara v. Superior Court, 41 Cal.4th 747, 161 P.2d 1095, 62 Cal.Rptr.3d 527 (2007)) noted that Hiett had evidently not had much impact on the availability of triathlons in Virginia:




In short, there is no epidemic of lawsuits arising out of swimmers drowning in triathlons. Perhaps the race director canceling a swim made a smart decision, based on the conditions (too windy, too cold, large surf, lack of support vehicles, etc.) I suspect the thought of bearing the moral or human responsibility for the death or injury of a swimmer has a lot more to do with the decision than any thought of legal responsibility. And most any reputable event and organizer will have event insurance, generally available through the sanctioning organization, in place to cover the legal side.

I think your blame of the legal system is misplaced.


Sorry, you feel this way. I am an attorney myself. We live in a litigious society which has resulted in an overabundance of caution, if not paranoia.

You are obviously a plaintiffs' lawyer. Save it for the Trial Lawyers Association meeting.

I should also add that a release and insurance don't keep somebody from filing suit. I should also add that I was involved in a lawsuit where a participant sued the race director, so I know what I am talking about.

orca1946
April 1st, 2009, 03:41 PM
Let's all stay in the house & lock the doors??:badday:

Paul Smith
April 1st, 2009, 03:50 PM
Sorry, you feel this way. I am an attorney myself. We live in a litigious society which has resulted in an overabundance of caution, if not paranoia.

You are obviously a plaintiffs' lawyer. Save it for the Trial Lawyers Association meeting.

I should also add that a release and insurance don't keep somebody from filing suit. I should also add that I was involved in a lawsuit where a participant sued the race director, so I know what I am talking about.


Exactly why one of the single most important changes that could/should occur in our society is to have plaintiff's pay the defendents legal costs if they lose.

The Fortress
April 1st, 2009, 04:08 PM
Liability releases are valid and enforceable in most jurisdictions throughout the United States, and are a strong deterrent to claims.

Had to chuckle. Last time I said something like this, a now revealed as harmless poster told me releases "weren't worth the paper they were written on." lol

aquageek
April 1st, 2009, 04:56 PM
I firmly believe that liability releases are pointless, kind of like the big sign on the back of the gravel truck that says they aren't responsible for rocks flying off the truck, which you can read as your car is getting pelted with gravel.

jim clemmons
April 1st, 2009, 05:06 PM
...which you can read as your car is getting pelted with gravel.

Until your windshield shatters. :afraid:

BillS
April 1st, 2009, 06:42 PM
You are obviously a plaintiffs' lawyer. Save it for the Trial Lawyers Association meeting.



I'm not a plaintiff's lawyer. I live in a very small town, and have a small town general practice. I defend at least as often as I represent the plaintiff. I am not a member of any trial lawyer's association.


Exactly why one of the single most important changes that could/should occur in our society is to have plaintiff's pay the defendents legal costs if they lose.

Whether we would benefit from implementing a loser pays system is a worthy subject of dialogue. But note that defendants who delay payment of viable claims should be equally liable for a claim for attorney fees, not just plaintiffs who pursue unsuccessful claims.


I firmly believe that liability releases are pointless, kind of like the big sign on the back of the gravel truck that says they aren't responsible for rocks flying off the truck, which you can read as your car is getting pelted with gravel.

Please don't let the pesky fact that releases are generally valid ever stand in the way of your "firm belief." For what it's worth, there are solid, meaty public policy reasons that persons should not be entitled to prospectively obtain a release of future negligence (for a good primer, read the Hiett case I cited earlier), but this is a swim forum, where we debate issues like the relative merits of tech suits, elevator repair, EVF, and Late Bloomers, not the vagaries of the american legal system.

elise526
April 1st, 2009, 08:19 PM
BillS - You make some good points. In mentioning lawyers, I was merely trying to deflect the blame from the individuals who struggle with their swimming. What is in the mind of the race director is probably a combination of things - the weak swimmers, the moral duty to be concerned about the safety of the participants, and legal liability.

It's easier to pick on lawyers because I am one and sometimes, in jest, you have to beat up on folks that make a profit out of other people's mistakes. Much easier to do that than pick on people that overestimate their swimming abilities.

Chris Stevenson
April 2nd, 2009, 12:53 PM
This has been an interesting thread. There are others here with more experience with triathlons and triathletes than I, but I will make a few observations for what they are worth.

-- Not meaning to brag, but when I enter USMS-sanctioned OW swims, I often have the fastest overall time. I have entered four triathlons (swim-bike only; awful knees prevent me from running) and have never had the overall fastest swim time, though I was always in the top five. Three of the triathlons were large, at least by my standards (2000+ entries). I could complain that I usually get stuck in one of the last waves, and am forced to run over/around people, while the pros get clear water...but facts are facts: there are some really fast swimmers at triathlons.

-- Triathlons are a lot of fun, though generally more expensive than OW races and swim meets. There are exceptions, of course. But you do get what you pay for: good swag, good food, significant awards -- I won a nice lounge chair once and the plaques are huge by swimming standards -- and after-race socials worth sticking around for.

-- Sorry, but I was generally more impressed with the physique and the apparent fitness of typical triathletes than with typical masters swimmers. Just my unscientific impression and I'll probably catch grief about it. Cycling and running punish you more for that extra baggage than swimming does.

-- On the other hand, masters swimming is more friendly to the elderly and that counts for a lot in my book. I am still amazed by the feats of many 80+ year-old swimmers. I love the applause that an elderly swimmer gets when finishing a tough race.

-- Although many are excellent swimmers, I am amazed at how poorly SOME of the top triathletes swim and how uncomfortable they can be in open water. I know of one local athlete, a podium finisher at Kona, who is still subject to panic attacks during the OW leg of some races. I don't think this makes them bad athletes, just bad swimmers compared to the typical masters swimmer. My own view is that it is too bad such people don't get penalized more for their ineptitute in one of the three disciplines. But many triathlete friends assure me that, if the swims were longer, the sport would be significantly less popular and that there would be more accidents.

-- A good triathlete friend of mind, a multiple Kona competitor and president of the local tri club, tells me that triathlete interest in swimming is always very high. Whenever they put on workshops or similar things, there is high demand. Although clearly the least important leg (by a lot), it is incorrect to say that triathletes are not that interested in swimming.

-- This is an observation from the same triathlete friend, who is a very strong swimmer and sometimes competes in local OW races. When he goes to such races, he said that he notices far fewer entrants who are just in the race to complete it. All the swimmers seem quite serious to him. In triathlons, however -- even some of the top races -- he states that there will be a large percentage of people whose only purpose is to brag about completing (say) a half-IM at the water cooler. They don't care how fast (or rather, slow) they go. I noticed the same phenomenon myself...although I am not a particularly strong cyclist, I would zip by literally hundreds of people, most of them on bikes much more expensive than mine.

aquageek
April 2nd, 2009, 01:33 PM
Chris - excellent post. I have to agree on many of your points but most notably on the fitness of the tri crowd. Couple that with all the flashy gear and I feel downright out of place when I bust out my ancient suit and swedes. It is a very buff crowd, ShePuff buff, if you will.

The completion versus competition is also something I see a lot. I don't understand the "I just want to finish" mentality of tris but it is quite evident. Obviously, a full IM is a notable exception. You finish that, you get a pass in my book. The only way I can explain it is that if you are a good swimmer you grew up racing and you understand what it means to race. Not many of us grew up doing triathlons so maybe there is less of a racing mentality. Who knows, although at the elite level, those guys and gals are animals.

Congrats on passing someone on the bike leg. That has yet to happen to me. I average about 17.2 mph and get passed by elderly people on those red scooter things.

Paul Smith
April 2nd, 2009, 01:43 PM
When I saw this article and decided to post it I wanted to see what kind of reaction it would get from some Triathletes who hang out on this forum. As a coach I continue to allow my frustration to build when multisport athletes attend my workouts and opt out of what I would consider helpful workouts...which most of the time (IMHO) I fell do just the opposite.

A perfect example the other day was a gal who refused to do any drill/technique work and in the past has also bailed on quality sets. Instead slipping off to an open lane to do a long swim (my quality workouts are often between 1500-2000 yards with a lot of rest). My thoughts are that this person would be better served working on the efficiency of her stroke so as to be able to complete aa long swim not fatigued...she doesn't see it that way.

Even worse is when I see triathletes training on their own at my gym...to me these folks are the higher risk candidates for having problems on the swim. So often working so hard and not progressing...

Cmonster
April 2nd, 2009, 02:55 PM
When I saw this article and decided to post it I wanted to see what kind of reaction it would get from some Triathletes who hang out on this forum. As a coach I continue to allow my frustration to build when multisport athletes attend my workouts and opt out of what I would consider helpful workouts...which most of the time (IMHO) I fell do just the opposite.

A perfect example the other day was a gal who refused to do any drill/technique work and in the past has also bailed on quality sets. Instead slipping off to an open lane to do a long swim (my quality workouts are often between 1500-2000 yards with a lot of rest). My thoughts are that this person would be better served working on the efficiency of her stroke so as to be able to complete aa long swim not fatigued...she doesn't see it that way.

Even worse is when I see triathletes training on their own at my gym...to me these folks are the higher risk candidates for having problems on the swim. So often working so hard and not progressing...

I'm glad to see that the overall climate of this forum is changing. I am a swimmer who does triathlon. I see the same thing where triathletes just don't want to put the time in to swim well. I was first out of the water in 11/12 tri's last year. The best part is that I get to cruise the swim, basically a stretched out swim at sunrise. out of the rest of the field I am again off the bike usually top 3, why? because i am efficient enough in the water to not go anerobic in first 20 minutes of a 4 hour race. These same athletes put a good whoop on me come training time tho. I tell them, spend more than 3500 yds/week in the water and work on your stroke. Everytime it's the same thing. They would rather spend 6 hours on the bike on saturday. I have never spent more than 3 hours riding, no more than 100 miles in a week. But I do take the time to do drills in every discipline.

Lastly, I do take great pleasure in exploiting the competitiveness of many triathletes by swimming along side of them and over working their ability but, of course I'm in the pool 4 days a week from 530-715 so I deserve that:)

elise526
April 2nd, 2009, 06:17 PM
Chris - excellent post. I have to agree on many of your points but most notably on the fitness of the tri crowd. Couple that with all the flashy gear and I feel downright out of place when I bust out my ancient suit and swedes. It is a very buff crowd, ShePuff buff, if you will.

The completion versus competition is also something I see a lot. I don't understand the "I just want to finish" mentality of tris but it is quite evident. Obviously, a full IM is a notable exception. You finish that, you get a pass in my book. The only way I can explain it is that if you are a good swimmer you grew up racing and you understand what it means to race. Not many of us grew up doing triathlons so maybe there is less of a racing mentality. Who knows, although at the elite level, those guys and gals are animals.

Congrats on passing someone on the bike leg. That has yet to happen to me. I average about 17.2 mph and get passed by elderly people on those red scooter things.

Some even go just to check out the scenery. One time I gave a friend of mine grief when he asked one of our other friends to move because he was "blocking his view."

When I gave him grief about it, he replied, "If God didn't intend for us to look, he would have made everybody look the same." :laugh2:

orca1946
April 2nd, 2009, 06:46 PM
OK I think this topic is "dead":badday::bolt: