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Jim B.
October 7th, 2010, 05:18 PM
The article (http://www.ktla.com/news/landing/ktla-triathlon-rescues,0,1382334.story) says that the race organizers are disputing the number of rescues being reported.

I'm not trying to start a flame war, just passing along the news as it is reported.

E=H2O
October 7th, 2010, 07:11 PM
Maybe next time they should just count bodies as they wash up to shore - just joking.

I think the organizers should be trying to decide why more than 20 had to be pulled out. With 3000 in the race in rough water you have to expect a few.
As a swimmer who has done triathlons I would be angry to say the least if they cancelled a swim in any race, let alone one I had to travel to overnight. But the reality is that the great majority do little or no training in rough water.

Maybe they could't duck under the waves because the wetsuits were too buoyant.

stillwater
October 7th, 2010, 07:45 PM
Public safety employees are under a lot of scrunity due to "extreme pay and lavish pensions". As always, when under the threat of cutbacks, hyperbole plays a big role.

Twenty rescues for 3,000 tri-folks isn't excessive. I don't think 200 rescues is accurate. However, the article states that the figure includes assists as well as rescues. An assist can be a lifeguard yelling at you.

The difference between a near drowning and salt water (as opposed to fresh water I guess) in the lungs is confusing also.

Anyway, what a load of bad press for the organizers. New recliners for the fire department.

E=H2O
October 7th, 2010, 08:36 PM
Public safety employees are under a lot of scrunity due to "extreme pay and lavish pensions". As always, when under the threat of cutbacks, hyperbole plays a big role.

Twenty rescues for 3,000 tri-folks isn't excessive. I don't think 200 rescues is accurate. However, the article states that the figure includes assists as well as rescues. An assist can be a lifeguard yelling at you.

The difference between a near drowning and salt water (as opposed to fresh water I guess) in the lungs is confusing also.

Anyway, what a load of bad press for the organizers. New recliners for the fire department.

Good points. I know when I guarded years ago, an assist was also putting your hand under someone's arm and helping them walk out of the water.

lefty
October 8th, 2010, 12:38 PM
I'm not trying to start a flame war, just passing along the news as it is reported.

Interestingly enough, the article said 169 and you reported 200. The headline said "nearly 200," perhaps that is where you got the number. Alot of triathletes are poor swimmers but their type A personalities lead them to attempt more than they should! That is news?

debaru
October 8th, 2010, 12:46 PM
Interestingly enough, the article said 169 and you reported 200. The headline said "nearly 200," perhaps that is where you got the number. Alot of triathletes are poor swimmers but their type A personalities lead them to attempt more than they should! That is news?

It's possible that a lot of weekend-warriors didn't realize that a nearly 1-mile swim isn't as easy as one would think. I'm also wondering if they had to run a fair distance to start the swim leg of the race. This could explain why so many people had trouble.

E=H2O
October 8th, 2010, 12:59 PM
It wouldn't surprise me if there were a lot of people who had only done tri swims in a lake. I'd be curious to see pictures of the surf that day.

stillwater
October 8th, 2010, 01:45 PM
514 were given assistance during the 0.93 mile swim,
- 169 required help leaving the water,
- 7 were evaluated in the med tent, and
- 2 were sent to hospitals.

The only stats that have meaning are the last two. Out of 3,000 tris, that doesn't seem excessive.

The other numbers are approximations with an ambigious definition.

Whenever there is a threat to cut the budget, those approximations always go up.

It is a shame that the organizers didn't have better PR people. But, sometimes the news is in collusion with others and doesn't have an objective position.

E=H2O
October 8th, 2010, 01:54 PM
i once did a tri where one of the kayakers was confused and thought I should have turned at a buoy which marked a turn for the shorter course. He pulled right in front of me and wouldn't move insisting that I should go back. I had to swim around him. Does that count as an assist?

stillwater
October 8th, 2010, 01:56 PM
Probably five.

ChrisM
October 8th, 2010, 02:11 PM
OK, with the caveat I wasn't there.... but I've done this race, and I know people that were there this year. The conditions this year were much much better than prior years. Here's a pic of the year I did it

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs004.snc1/4155_1139807224963_1520884274_330775_1698026_n.jpg

2009 was worse, with tons of current and wind chop, and waves of about the same size. This year was much smaller and calmer. But this RD simply doesn't cancel swims in rough conditions.

As for this year, I heard nothing about an inordinate number of "rescues," and believe me here in L.A. that news travels around very fast. I have to chalk this up to reportage and a very ambiguous definition of "assistance." If the RD is to be believed, that includes providing direction in the water. Not sure how they keep track of that, but still....

I know triathletes get a bad rap from swimmers (as well as cyclists... not so much runners) and in some cases that is true. But if you are a triathlete and are smart, you swim in the ocean out here. Every week. It's a heavily LA tri race for obvious reasons, and most all do ocean swims, and most all know what they are getting into.

But I think this story is a bit msrepresentative... I'd like to know the standards for assistance etc. Also required help leaving the water. arm under another's arm? 200 rescues is a better headline than 2 sent to hospitals

stillwater
October 8th, 2010, 07:29 PM
What a great picture.

Shore pound at its finest.

Michael Heather
October 9th, 2010, 11:35 AM
The scuttlebut is that some of the triathletes were having problems getting out of the surf at the end of the swim and had to be helped by lifeguards. Only two cases were life threatening (as reported).

169 is close enough to say "almost 200." Out of 3000 participants, this is still a large percentage. Would be interesting to see similar statistics from USMS sanctioned OW swims.

An interesting question would be: did the people who got help continue on in the race, or were they disqualified for getting assistance?

E=H2O
October 9th, 2010, 01:11 PM
An interesting question would be: did the people who got help continue on in the race, or were they disqualified for getting assistance?

Here is the rule for USAT sanctioned events. I'm not sure if it was USAT sanctioned or how the rule was applied. I would imagine that any triathlete coming from a non-swimming background who finished the swim would definitely definitely gone on.

"Unauthorized Assistance. No participant shall accept from any person (other than a race official) physical assistance in any form . . . . Any violation of this Section shall result in a variable time penalty."

Michael Heather
October 9th, 2010, 01:40 PM
Interesting view on the ethics of competition. You CAN accept assistance if you don't mind getting a *variable* time penalty. Which is determined *after* the event is concluded? Wow.

ChrisM
October 11th, 2010, 08:31 PM
Just a few thoughts

I've since spoken to a few folks that were there. These are not to my knowledge numbers supported by incident reports, medical visits, etc. Those that were there saw nothing unusual (and believe me, 169 "rescues" at a tri would be absolutely remarkable). There was, as at every tri, the swimmer that has a hard time with surf and needs a shoulder to lean on or an elbow taken for balance.

As for the USAT rule, the rules are such that a lifeguard, like an aid station volunteer, or a tech van, all fall under the rubric of the race officials or management. That rule is designed that an athlete cannot get, for example, and extra tube from his wife if he gets a flat. But an athlete can get a tube from the tech van, or gels from an aid station, or even hang onto a kayak during the swim if they have to (but forward progress is not allowed - that whole issue is for another thread). You would not, however, be allowed to rest on a friend's kayak, or take a gel from a non racing buddy.

Again, we have no idea how the term "assistance." Until then, we don't really know what was done. And this definition would also be necessary to compare it to a USMS OW swim.

But I can guarantee you more people need help in tris than do in OW swims. It's unfortunate, but many take the dim view that the swim is not as relevant since it comprises a small percentage of the total race. I have seen tris where the swimmer has never been in the ocean before, never in a wetsuit, they just think they've splashed in a pool for a bit so they will be fine. I completely and 100% acknowledge that.... but this article is simply cr*p "journalism" of the "headless body found in topless bar" variety.

LA Tri is USAT sanctioned

As far as variable time penalties, they are handed out at the time of violation by a race marshall (assuming the violation is witnessed), not after the fact, and whether they are served immediately or later depends on the race. In some cases (drafting), some races make you sit in a penalty tent. In most, they enter the penalty in the results and that time is added to your total elapsed time. Variable time penalties are a well know rule in triathlon, so anyone that doesn't like them is better off not doing tris. Natascha Badmann won Kona Ironman (the world championships) after sitting in the penalty tent for 4 minutes for drafting. Nothing ethical or unethical about it, you pay your penalty, do the time, and move on. Just like a foul in basketball, offsides in soccer, penalty in football, i.e. every other sport. Even OW swimming has race marshalls in the mix for how swimmers act, yes?

chaos
October 11th, 2010, 09:46 PM
until the swim portion of triathlons = 1/3 of the race; some athletes will neglect the training and preparation necessary to complete an open water swim safely and unassisted (and yes, wetsuits are assistance also), now having said that, i am continually impressed by the enormous numbers of participants that these events attract, and many USMS clubs have greater than 50% of their membership actively tri-ing.

aurora
October 11th, 2010, 10:06 PM
chaso I do agree with you 100 percent. I went to watch a tri over the summer and most of the people were swimming freestyle with there heads out some did seem to know what stoke to do. As long distance open water swimmer it makes me kinda upset that the swimming is so short. I have tri friends that when I tell them my goal of doing marthoon swimming they say well you know thats only 25 or so miles or swimming. Ironman people ride, bike and swim 140miles. It sad because the swimming even in an Ironman distance is 2,5milles. I think that its suppose to be a test of how well you can do all three events well but if the swim is so short there is now way that one would give much thought to the swim. Just me venting. I have many good tri friends and love them and admire there doing Ironmans, but the swimming needs to be just as important as the bike and run. because when it comes down to it you just have to be a good runner of biker.

Michael Heather
October 12th, 2010, 01:13 AM
Just a few thoughts..

Again, we have no idea how the term "assistance." Until then, we don't really know what was done. And this definition would also be necessary to compare it to a USMS OW swim.

.... but this article is simply cr*p "journalism" of the "headless body found in topless bar" variety.

LA Tri is USAT sanctioned

As far as variable time penalties, they are handed out at the time of violation by a race marshall (assuming the violation is witnessed), not after the fact, and whether they are served immediately or later depends on the race. ...

Even OW swimming has race marshalls in the mix for how swimmers act, yes?

You make several interesting points. In USMS OW events, assistance of any sort is reason for disqualification. Resting on a kayak, being physically guided out of the water, any touching that is other than accidental is not allowed. Even handing food or drink to the swimmer is a very particular affair. Purity of this sort would probably send the Tri event registrations plummeting, since someone who cannot make 1 or 2 miles without assisted resting would be unable to justify the entry fee. In OW races, the marshalls are on the course to enforce the rules, not decide to what extent they were broken.

It would be very interesting to investigate the differences between USMS OW and USAT sanction requirements.

As for crap journalism, you can believe what you like. The professional lifeguards and firemen making reports are not in the habit of pumping up numbers for salacious reading. In fact, it creates a considerable amount of paperwork (incident reports) if the person needed assistance other than a hand on the rescue boat to rest. That could be the majority of the cases, but assistance was given nonetheless. The water temperature, with the current and/or rough surf were probably enough to create an environment that would easily foster 169 "assists" out of 2800 competitors in the water.

The fact that USAT allows time penalties is a marvel of marketing. It keeps the feeling of competition alive without having to take someone's money after 10 minutes and saying, "you are out" for having broken a rule by getting assistance. Everyone can justify sitting in a time out tent and starting the bike ride or run a little later, as long as they get to cross the finish line.

MickYoung
October 12th, 2010, 01:15 AM
Ironman people ride, bike and swim 140miles. It sad because the swimming even in an Ironman distance is 2,5milles. I think that its suppose to be a test of how well you can do all three events well but if the swim is so short there is now way that one would give much thought to the swim.

From what I understand, in the original "Ironman" contests in Hawaii, the swimming was "only" 2.4 miles, but that was 2.4 miles over some of the largest surf in the world - swimming up and down mountains. They use that same distance for all Ironmen, but most of them are in civilized waters.

The Tri folks say you can't win by swimming, but you lose by it. Seeing as more than 90% of triathlete deaths happen in the water? Well, you can lose big.

If you look at the results, the order for the bike times ends up being almost identical to the overall order. That really shouldn't be.

Perhaps someday they will get their balance right.

E=H2O
October 12th, 2010, 02:33 AM
I'd be curious to see how many of the athletes that drowned were wearing wetsuits. Frankly, I don't know how you can drown in one.

beksurf
October 12th, 2010, 12:05 PM
I would agree that a lot of the triathlete people do not plan or train enough for these events.

I swam this portion of the LA Tri last year as a relay. We were part of a larger team of a bunch of relays and I was one of two people out of 6 teams that the swimmer made it out. And I emerged from the water with a split eye and blood running down my face from making contact with another swimmer who was having trouble making it through the waves. (they ended up getting pulled out of the water)

This is a perfect example of how USMS needs to make a better effort at educating and providing clinics for open water swimmers. A lot of people on the beach were clearly novices and unprepared.

I'm constantly asked by triathletes how to better prepare for the swims and the answer isn't a quick fix... its training consistently and being prepared.

jkormanik
October 12th, 2010, 12:54 PM
I'll preface my comments with this disclaimer: I am a triathlete. I've completed 1 Ironman distance event so far (with 2 additional events on the horizon), a couple of 70.3 distance events (one in Oceanside harbor) and several shorter races. I have not completed a swim of longer than 2.4 miles in any single race.

That being said: triathletes are NOT open water swimmers. They do NOT (and cannot) train with a singular focus of the swim. Most triathletes do the level best they can during the swim. The comment I mostly hear during training or prior to the start of the event is: "If I just make it out of the water, I'll be fine." With the workaday life of the average triathlete, training time is at a premium. Most triathletes see the percentages of time/distance of each event and, rightfully I might add, simply want to be "average" swimmers and excel during the bike and/or the run.

Which is tougher?? I, frankly, have no idea. But, until you swim 2.4 miles, run out of the water and get on a bike for 112 miles, then run 26.2 miles, you have no idea what a toll such an endeavor takes on your body. I know, I've been there. I do not, however, know what a physical/psychological toll marathon swimming takes on a body...I haven't done it.

I aspire to be a true open water swimmer; in fact, I have a "date" set for the English Channel in the future. In the mean time, I train appropriately for the distances I race.

For a triathlete to expose themselves to a situation which could result in endangering their life or the life of someone else is, simply put, a poor personal choice. But to say "triathlete people do not plan or train enough for these events" paints with too broad a brush. I would venture to say most triathletes have, indeed, trained properly. It is the few who do not that make the headlines.

ChrisM
October 12th, 2010, 01:23 PM
You make several interesting points. In USMS OW events, assistance of any sort is reason for disqualification. Resting on a kayak, being physically guided out of the water, any touching that is other than accidental is not allowed. Even handing food or drink to the swimmer is a very particular affair. Purity of this sort would probably send the Tri event registrations plummeting, since someone who cannot make 1 or 2 miles without assisted resting would be unable to justify the entry fee. In OW races, the marshalls are on the course to enforce the rules, not decide to what extent they were broken.

It would be very interesting to investigate the differences between USMS OW and USAT sanction requirements.

As for crap journalism, you can believe what you like. The professional lifeguards and firemen making reports are not in the habit of pumping up numbers for salacious reading. In fact, it creates a considerable amount of paperwork (incident reports) if the person needed assistance other than a hand on the rescue boat to rest. That could be the majority of the cases, but assistance was given nonetheless. The water temperature, with the current and/or rough surf were probably enough to create an environment that would easily foster 169 "assists" out of 2800 competitors in the water.

The fact that USAT allows time penalties is a marvel of marketing. It keeps the feeling of competition alive without having to take someone's money after 10 minutes and saying, "you are out" for having broken a rule by getting assistance. Everyone can justify sitting in a time out tent and starting the bike ride or run a little later, as long as they get to cross the finish line.



USMS rules are different than USAT rules, so a comparison between what you can do in a USMS event and a USAT event is about as accurate as comapring NBA and MLS rules. Both involve running around a large green field and a ball. That's about it. USAT and USMS rules both involve swimming in open water, and that's it. I would expect someone that hangs on a kayak in a USMS event to be disqualified. The rules are online as USAT and I assume USMS, so it's not that difficult to compare.

Do I think the hanging on a kayak rule is good? yes and no. As a decent swimmer (by triathlon standards, not swimming standards), no, I don't think it's good, I believe everyone should be properly trained in the conditions of the race in order to finish the leg, be it swim, bike or run. Is the rule a nod to marketing to get more people to do tris? Partly, it's also safety. But I think in general encouraging people to race is a good thing on many fronts. Healthy for the sport. Healthy for the person. More races, etc.

As to time penalties, as I said, it's a penalty, just as a free throw is in basketball or a free kick is in soccer. You foul someone to prevent them from making a shot, they get to take a couple free ones. You draft off someone on the bike, you serve a penalty, either physically sitting out or by time addition. No one is determining to what extent a rule is broken, so I don't get that comment. Perhaps you are not aware that each violation with a "variable time penalty" has a set time period for each violation? The word "variable" refers to the fact that it's a different set time penalty depending on the length of the course and whether the violation is a first one or repeat one. It doesn't mean it's up to someone's discretion. i.e., assistance is a 4:00 penalty, second violation additional time, etc. You can read about the rule here if you are interested: http://www.campwhitcombmason.org/resources/1/Triathlon%20Documents/2010%20USAT%20Most%20Commonly%20Violated%20Rules.p df

As for the "crap journalism" comment, I don't think either of us can comment on the accuracy of the numbers since neither of us know the definition of "assistance" or how the numbers were calculated. But I stand by my comment that "200 triathletes" were not, in fact "rescued" at the LA triathlon. Others are free to disagree of course. If someone can produce 169 "incident reports," I will publicly retract my statement.

As to other points... I can guarantee that 99% of the triathletes were wearing wetsuits, and the water temp was mid to high 60s. I know, I know, it's not "pure" open water swimming, blah blah blah, and the water temps don't require wetsuits, but wetsuits are legal below a certain temp, and they provide a speed benefit. If you want the fastest time you can do, you wear a wetsuit.

As to the length of the IM swim, a little background is required. Way back when in the 70s they had the Waikiki Roughwater swim, the Ride around Oahu, and the Honolulu Marathon. A bar bet was made as to who were the better athletes, and the solution was to add them all together as a challenge. There was no cutoff time, no race marshalls, no rules. hence, 2.4/112/26.2. The swim wasn't anything other than the Waikiki roughwater, so it wasn't through huge surf, unless the surf happened to be big, I suppose. No idea how the shorter distances were calculated (other than a half ironman which is obvious).

There have been efforts to balance out the distances, the Tri 101 series, a new tri in Abu Dhabi of all places, and the ITU long course tri to be held in Vegas next year. But triathletes being what they are, they all like the shorter swims since it's the hardest part for many triathletes. So these races suffer. I do one small local race that's based on more or less equal legs, .5 mile swim, 6 mile bike 2 mile run. But those races are the exception.

2.4 is short in comparison to the other two legs, as are all tri swims. As a swimmer, it sucks to get passed by everyone on the bike and run, but that's the way it is. I've completed one Ironman, 5 halfs, and countless sprints and Olys. And, as a sub hour IM swimmer, I've been pulled from the water during an ironman due to unforeseen medical issues. I was on my way to another sub hour swim. Was I unprepared? Nope.

People just have to understand and accept that triathlon swimming is a different sport than USMS OW swimming. Just as USAT running is different than USATF running. I do USMS swim races. I do USAT tris. I do USATF run courses. In each one, I know there are different rules applying to each event. Different rules, different mindsets. If one believes that a cetain set of rules is unethical, or violates their notion of honor, they shouldn't do the event. Pretty simple, really.

ETA - "Ironman" races are owned by WTC and do not, generally, follow USAT rules.

Wow, that turned into a dissertation... sorry about that!

E=H2O
October 12th, 2010, 01:31 PM
jkormanik

I don't have an argument with anything you've said. I competed in 11 triathlons in 2 years as I returned to competitive athletics. I started with triathlons because of a compromised shoulder. What I found is that generalizations about why triathletes perform only adequately or poorly in the swim, are usually wrong.

My observations

1) Some simply could not swim when they started to focus on doing a triathlon, so they have so much to learn.
2) Some have never swam out of a pool and the idea of open water scares them. I guess if all the bike riding I did was on a track, riding in traffic would freak me out
3) They have 3% body fat and get cold in water colder than a swimming pool at the "Y"
4) Not many have a neoprene fetish so they freak out in a tight wetsuit, particularly at the start of the event when their anxiety level is high. Remember most OW swimmers hate wetsuits too, but get annoyed not anxious about wearing them.
5) Some are always anxious at any start and have a tendency to hyperventilate. Not a good thing to do when your face is in the water.
6) Some feel like anytime someone bumps into them in the water that the person was trying to swim over them and will do so at any minute.
7) Many feel that anytime you are doing a workout and not breathing hard, you are wasting your time. Many of the others will perform some kind of stroke drill and either don't fully understand it or are unable to integrate it into their stroke.
8) Almost all them would never consider spending the majority of their time in the pool only working on their stroke. I started into triathlons because of a problem shoulder. I developed almost all of my conditioning cycling and running. My time in the pool was all about stroke work. I would swim all out on race day figuring that if I injured it I could rest it after a race. I always finished high in the swim (and never inured my shoulder because I had not put too much strain on it in practice)
9) Some look at the swim leg just as they do the entry fee. They hate it, but consider it just the price of admission. They train for the swim leg like they write the check. Not a bit more than they have to.
10) Finally, I would say the majority of them don't have the time to train in all 3 sports so they take the time loss in the swimming leg, thinking that they can make it up on the bike and run. However if you give up 6 minutes in the water in an olympic distance, you are going to have to run a mile a minute faster. That's pretty hard for mere mortals.

As far as which is tougher: apples & oranges.

MickYoung
October 12th, 2010, 02:22 PM
from the UK's The Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/warning-over-triathlon-death-rate-1690626.html) :

"... 14 deaths among almost one million [triathlon participations] ... 13 of the 14 deaths occurred during ... the swim phase ..."


To put this in perspective, back of the envelope calculations indicate that in a typical population of 1,000,000 people, you will have about 40 people die every day.

Of course, in a typical population of 1,000,000 you probably have about 980,000 for whom a sprint tri is physically way above anything they could consider doing.

Jim B.
October 12th, 2010, 04:11 PM
Up in the Northeast Kingdom there was an even-up Aquaman Triathlon (http://www.kingdomtriathlon.org/courses.php) 3.5 mi. swim, 34 mi bike, 13 mi run. It is a small sample, but the top finishers all split pretty evenly.

ChrisM
October 12th, 2010, 04:52 PM
Up in the Northeast Kingdom there was an even-up Aquaman Triathlon (http://www.kingdomtriathlon.org/courses.php) 3.5 mi. swim, 34 mi bike, 13 mi run. It is a small sample, but the top finishers all split pretty evenly.

Now that is an awesome race distance

aurora
October 12th, 2010, 05:29 PM
I second that how come more tris are not like that. I think in an Ironman distance the swim should be at least 5 miles.

aurora
October 12th, 2010, 05:47 PM
just to add one more thing being I am doing the English channel next year and have gotten up to a 16 mile swim in 7 hours. My friend that Kayaked for me is an Ironman and made time to go to Kona. She said that she thinks swimming is much harder because you cant, slowdown and walk like you could in a run, you dont get to use diffrent body parts, all your arms, you cant get food or drink unless some hands it to you with out tuching them. It very hard to pee and tread water. You have no land marks in the channel. you dont know if your at the end or not. There is no on on the other side to cheer you on. you cant hear people or talk to anyone your alone the way. You jump in the water in the dark off a boat to start.You cant stop swimming while you eat or anthing because every mintue the tide pushes you around and could add hours on to your swim. She said she would never do a marthoon swim because you get a leg cramp and you have to just go not to mention the cold. She swam 2 twice with me in a wet suit when it was 56 I was not in one. she said she would never do it agin. But I in turn thing she is cazy to run and bike what she does. It comes down to these are two very diffrent sports.

E=H2O
October 12th, 2010, 07:28 PM
I second that how come more tris are not like that. I think in an Ironman distance the swim should be at least 5 miles.


Considering how this thread started I can see the headlines now:

" 2,000 Swimmers Rescued During Triathlon."

orca1946
October 13th, 2010, 04:11 PM
In any big event, ther eare people that "give it a try" that are not really ready for the event.

aurora
October 13th, 2010, 09:54 PM
well put Orcoa1946