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philoswimmer
March 3rd, 2013, 11:16 PM
Details here:

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Man-dies-at-colder-than-normal-triathlon-4324933.php

mermaid
March 4th, 2013, 06:34 AM
The decision to hold the event 3 months early was STUPID! Read about the problems with the swim potion.

As an event director who is forced to cancel her SAFE, LITTLE swim due to high insurance premiums, I am not amused by this kind of non-sense.

sunruh
March 4th, 2013, 08:28 AM
i am so sad to hear someone died.

and yes with the already $1800 insurance cost from an open water event, this will i am sure only make that go up considerably more.

Bill Sive
March 4th, 2013, 03:48 PM
USMS was looking at Open Water Swimming related insurance expenses a short time ago.

http://www.usms.org/admin/minutes/ow-2013-1-6-1.pdf

http://www.usms.org/articles/articledisplay.php?aid=2681

I liked the old style before when the meeting minutes were on the home page. However, I make a point of clicking to see if there are new meeting minutes posted whenever I log into USMS Forums.

rtodd
March 4th, 2013, 04:28 PM
50 degree water is too cold for someone not aclimated. There is two types of aclimating, seasonal where a swimmer gets used to the cold water over a period of weeks/months and also immediate where a swimmer can get used to the water temp over a period of 15-30 minutes. Both help. If it is a dive start race, it will be a shock going in, not to mention the whitecaps. I think race starts where a swimmer has a bit of time in the water before the start is good when the water is cold.

sunruh
March 5th, 2013, 08:51 AM
on the front page of the sports section in todays Austin paper.

knelson
March 5th, 2013, 09:35 AM
50 degree water is too cold for someone not aclimated.

I was reading about cold water immersion deaths recently. Most people assume these deaths are primarily caused by hypothermia when that's not actually the case. Many people die almost immediately when entering very cold water due to cardiac arrest. If your body makes it through the initial shock you can actually survive for a long time (well, 30 minutes anyway) in frigid water. Now 50 degrees would be on the high end of "frigid" water--I imagine most deaths are in water very close to freezing--but it's still very cold and obviously potentially life threatening at least for some individuals.

edit: actually this article claims 10 degrees C (50 F) produces the maximum cold water response and reducing the temp to 0 C does not increase the severity of the body's response to cold water: http://www.webmedcentral.com/article_view/2426

Based on this I'd say holding an OW race in 50 degree water is playing with fire.

quicksilver
March 5th, 2013, 01:40 PM
Alcatraz Race Director Urges Triathletes to Have Medical Tests (article) (http://http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-05/alcatraz-race-director-urges-triathletes-to-have-medical-tests.html)


Burke said another competitor told him afterward that Ehlinger was nervous before jumping into the water, the director said.
“Based on what I’ve heard, he was very apprehensive and sweating bullets while on the boat,” Burke said. “That’s not a good sign.”


This has got to be nerve wracking start for any athlete.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=PKqRayXD_VI

ande
March 5th, 2013, 02:26 PM
Austin triathlete remembered for passion for family, sports
Lawyer Ross Ehlinger, 46, suffered apparent heart attack at start of San Francisco race (http://www.statesman.com/news/sports/austin-attorney-who-died-during-triathlon-remember/nWgZq/)

philoswimmer
March 5th, 2013, 02:40 PM
This has got to be nerve wracking start for any athlete.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=PKqRayXD_VI

I did it. It's not so bad. But when I did it, it was more like 58-9 degrees. Then again, I had no wetsuit.

smontanaro
March 5th, 2013, 02:52 PM
This has got to be nerve wracking start for any athlete.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=PKqRayXD_VI

Not to make light of the seriousness of this issue, but shouldn't a wet suit and cap have been enough thermal protection against 50° water temps? For some reason I spaced out and had an incorrect mental image of English Channel swimmers, completely forgetting that triathlon swims in water temps below perhaps 75° are done with wet suits.

quicksilver
March 5th, 2013, 03:06 PM
I did it. It's not so bad. But when I did it, it was more like 58-9 degrees. Then again, I had no wetsuit.


Congratulations. The cattle call to bail out of the launch boat looks intense. But no wet suit in sub 60 degree water! Beyond impressive. That's ice cream headache water for sure. (Hypothermia can occur very quickly in 60 degree water if you're not moving around hard enough to work up the body temperature.)

As a swimmer I think most of us would take the plunge without giving it a second thought. But cold grey water with wave chop had to bring a slight level of apprehension to the non-swimmers regardless of their fitness level. In my humble opinion most triathletes are bikers and runners first, and then swimmers.

Over the years there's been speculation that the cause of cardiac arrests and pulmonary edema (http://www.endurancetriathletes.com/sipe.html) is somehow related to the wetsuits and lack of blood flow. This is really sad. Hopefully they'll find a way to prevent this from happening in the future.

gull
March 5th, 2013, 03:14 PM
Water temperatures Sunday were 51 degrees. The race took place about three months earlier than in previous years, but even in June, water temperatures typically hover between 52 and 56 degrees, said race director Bill Burke. Ehlinger was wearing a wetsuit, and Burke said he didn’t believe the cold water contributed to his death.

Without question the cold water contributed to his death. Where did the race director earn his medical degree?

smontanaro
March 5th, 2013, 03:16 PM
Over the years there's been speculation that the cause of these cardiac arrests seems to point to pulmonary edema (http://www.endurancetriathletes.com/sipe.html) which is somehow related to the wetsuits and lack of bloodflow. This is really sad. Hopefully they'll find a way to prevent this from happening in the future.

SIPE is the cover story of this month's Swimmer magazine, in case you haven't received it yet.

S

Chris Stevenson
March 5th, 2013, 03:39 PM
Water temperatures Sunday were 51 degrees. The race took place about three months earlier than in previous years, but even in June, water temperatures typically hover between 52 and 56 degrees, said race director Bill Burke. Ehlinger was wearing a wetsuit, and Burke said he didn’t believe the cold water contributed to his death.

Without question the cold water contributed to his death. Where did the race director earn his medical degree?

I'm not really disagreeing with your sentiments, but possibly what he meant was that the same thing might have occurred even if the race had been held at the normal time since the water might not have been that much warmer.

Would the difference in air temps have had an impact in this case? I believe it is important in hyper/hypothermia but this is different of course.

gull
March 5th, 2013, 04:11 PM
January and February are the coldest months of the year for the bay, according to the National Oceanographic Data Center; the average water temperature in June is 56-58 degrees, significantly warmer than 51.

ViveBene
March 5th, 2013, 04:23 PM
There seem to be some unknowns, as well as discordant information (or statements).
An earlier poster mentioned someone describing the deceased prior to the race as "apprehensive and sweating bullets." I believe these are symptoms associated with cardiac distress. (But maybe he wasn't sweating bullets...)

And on this thread
http://www.marathonswimmers.org/forum/discussion/403/texas-man-dies-during-first-leg-swimming-of-alcatraz-triathlon
there is a report (third-hand) of the person who discovered him, floating face-down, 1/2 mile from the start.

I don't know who said he died within a minute of the jump, or on what basis.

Mermaid, is "Search for Monongy" no more? If so, I am sorry to hear it.

philoswimmer
March 5th, 2013, 04:42 PM
Congratulations. The cattle call to bail out of the launch boat looks intense. But no wet suit in sub 60 degree water! Beyond impressive. That's ice cream headache water for sure. (Hypothermia can occur very quickly in 60 degree water if you're not moving around hard enough to work up the body temperature.)

As a swimmer I think most of us would take the plunge without giving it a second thought. But cold grey water with wave chop had to bring a slight level of apprehension to the non-swimmers regardless of their fitness level. In my humble opinion most triathletes are bikers and runners first, and then swimmers.

Over the years there's been speculation that the cause of cardiac arrests and pulmonary edema (http://www.endurancetriathletes.com/sipe.html) is somehow related to the wetsuits and lack of blood flow. This is really sad. Hopefully they'll find a way to prevent this from happening in the future.

The cattle call is intense. But if you watch the video, you'll notice that things kind of slow down after awhile. If you're afraid of getting shoved, you hang back a bit, same as with any open water start.

The cold water does hit you very hard, and yes, I kept moving to keep warm. I've got a pretty good internal heater.

Let me be clear, though, I don't mean to say "look how tough I am." I'm pretty sure I couldn't have done what I did in 51 degree water (at least not without acclimation training), and I question whether they should have held the race under those conditions. I just meant to say that the start, while a bit shocking, isn't too bad if you don't try to be the first person off the boat (and if you don't have a heart attack. :( ). Then again, I did grow up swimming in the ocean, so my sense of what is scary might be a bit skewed. You're right that someone who's not really a swimmer, or without much experience outside a pool, might be intimidated.

orca1946
March 5th, 2013, 07:26 PM
How sad for all who knew him!! Did he do any cold water training?
I did Chicago's Big Shoulders without a wet suit in water temps of 58 - 60 & it takes some getting used to with weeks before swims in the lake! Being "over weight" helps in this temp. of water.

chaos
March 5th, 2013, 09:44 PM
Train for the conditions you are likely to encounter on race day. This was not an extraordinary SF day in March.
Every competitor should have spent some time at Aquatic Park on the day prior to the event. For those who think that the temperature was the big factor here, how do you explain when this happens in 70 or 80 degree water? (and it does regularly)

chaos
March 5th, 2013, 09:49 PM
As an event director who is forced to cancel her SAFE, LITTLE swim due to high insurance premiums, I am not amused by this kind of non-sense.

There are other insurance options check marathonswimmers.org for a discussion on the subject with links to insurance providers.
http://openwaterpedia.com/index.php?title=Open_Water_Swimming_Insurance
http://openwaterpedia.com/index.php?title=HMBD
http://openwaterpedia.com/index.php?title=Travis_England

mermaid
March 6th, 2013, 10:31 AM
To be clear - this is a horrible tragedy.

My position is from a race directors point of view: the water (currents, temp, etc) in the SF Bay are much different on March 3rd than on a date in June. In my opinion, there were many factors that were overlooked by the race director. These oversights lead to death and several swimmers in a distressed situation who needed to be rescued.

Yes, participants should be training for the conditions they may encounter on the day of the race. However, when conditions are drastically different from prior years/attempts/reports, the race director/event director must address additional safety concerns. Head first starts vs running starts, wet suit recommendations, warm-up times, water currents, temperatures, etc. should be addressed by the event director. To that end participants rely on the race director to provide a SAFE environment for all.

As reported, the event is open to anyone, the newbie to the seasoned pro, and is a bucket list item (either "this is a cool thing to accomplish" or "I have a mission to do as many Tri's as possible", etc.). The event director has a duty to consider the SAFETY of all . . . even the "lowest common denominator" (as someone used in another thread on another forum on the topic).

Insurance companies issue insurance policies under the premise that the event is safe and incidents of occurrence are minimized. When an accident occurs, all aspects of the accident and event are analyzed and premiums increase (directly proportional to the magnitude of the occurrence). This is where I have an issue. There were enough recent incidents/occurrences for the USMS insurance premium to skyrocket. There were several accidents/deaths that could have been avoided with proper safety considerations and unfortunately some that could not (organ defects, health issues, and the like).

The safety guidelines are still in the developing stage. To my knowledge, USMS is working very hard to come up with a solution and a best "one size fits all" guideline. Race directors, who are most knowledgeable of the nuances of their event, have a DUTY to go above and beyond the safety guidelines.

In my opinion, the Escape from Alcatraz race director was irresponsible with respect to the swim portion of the event. Incidents like the ones that occurred in this event have directly affected my safe, little swim on the little Allegheny River in little Pittsburgh, PA. I can't help but be annoyed.

Yes, chaos, I could investigate other insurance providers however, this little event is sponsored by the LMSC for USMS members. I am both the LMSC Chair and Event Director. This event was a benefit to USMS membership and encouraged USMS membership. Now what do I do? Hold the event with another insurance provider and jump ship from USMS? Pass the event to another organization?

As of the time of this posting, the event is not scheduled for 2013 due to the $1,000 insurance bill from USMS for USMS sanction/insurance coverage. We are a small LMSC with limited resources and the event is a small event (approx. 50 swimmers for the past three years each year).

Chris Stevenson
March 6th, 2013, 10:59 AM
As of the time of this posting, the event is not scheduled for 2013 due to the $1,000 insurance bill from USMS for USMS sanction/insurance coverage. We are a small LMSC with limited resources and the event is a small event (approx. 50 swimmers for the past three years each year).

Mermaid, that's a shame about your race. We were lucky in that the club host had sufficient reserves to absorb the additional fee this year for the two OW events they normally do, and the LMSC can cover the cost for a third OW event that might apply for a sanction if they can work out the other (non-fee related) changes with regard to sanction.

In the OW Sanction FAQ, early on they have this Q/A:


Q2: We host a small (80 - 100) open water swim each year. The increase in sanction fee may cause us to permanently cancel this event if we cannot get some grant relief on the $1000 sanction fee. When will we know this is available and how do we apply?
A2: The USMS Open Water Committee will be responsible for the administration of the grant relief program if it is approved by the USMS Finance Committee. The grant relief program will be available to LMSCs and not events.

Have you looked into this grant to see if your LMSC can apply?

mermaid
March 6th, 2013, 11:22 AM
Well - permits for the event needed to be applied for last week. There is nothing firm about the grant program.

gull
March 6th, 2013, 12:27 PM
I have been told that they retrieved three times the usual number of swimmers from the water. Which I am sure had nothing whatsover to do with water temperature.

From the Washington Post in 2010:

An official for FINA, the international organization governing swimming, said Crippen likely died from overexertion. "We are sorry that the guy died, but what can you do?" UAE Swimming Association executive director Ayman Saad said in a statement. "This guy was tired and he pushed himself a lot."

chaos
March 6th, 2013, 01:38 PM
I have been told that they retrieved three times the usual number of swimmers from the water. Which I am sure had nothing whatsover to do with water temperature.
[/I]

You do know that there are currents in the bay.

My guess would be that the majority of participants pulled probably missed the finish....

I train with swimmers that routinely train in water well into the 30's. Its not rocket science, its adaptation.

.... same at the other extreme. I have no desire to race in water over 80 degrees, but if I had entered such an event, I wouldn't let race day be my first exposure to that condition.

E=H2O
March 6th, 2013, 01:47 PM
Here is some information which was posted by Stuart McDougal as a comment to the post I made on my FB page:


"Some more info on this. The swimmer did not die within a minute after the jump - I thought that just didn't sound right, especially with all the kayaks and watercraft within yards of the jump. Turns out another mostly distressed swimmer, resorting to breaststroke found him face down 1/2 mile into the swim. Turned him over and he was blue. Waved over kayak's and tried to admin cpr. Motorcraft arrived, loaded him on boat and continued cpr, but was already too late. The swimmer that found him and tried to resuscitate was one from our Disney Tri Team."

gull
March 6th, 2013, 02:09 PM
You do know that there are currents in the bay.

My guess would be that the majority of participants pulled probably missed the finish....

I train with swimmers that routinely train in water well into the 30's. Its not rocket science, its adaptation.

.... same at the other extreme. I have no desire to race in water over 80 degrees, but if I had entered such an event, I wouldn't let race day be my first exposure to that condition.


You're right, it's not rocket science. It's human physiology.

The point is that the water temperature very likely did contribute to the man's death. To argue that it didn't is absurd.

Are there really currents in the bay?

chaos
March 6th, 2013, 02:30 PM
You're right, it's not rocket science. It's human physiology.

The point is that the water temperature very likely did contribute to the man's death. To argue that it didn't is absurd.

Are there really currents in the bay?

Not to get all semantic, but I'll agree that not being prepared for swimming in water that temperature did possibly contribute to this man's death... so... you still have a load of tri deaths that you can't possibly attribute to water temps:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/12/sports/swimmers-death-casts-shadow-on-ironman-triathlon.html?_r=0
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/08/sports/man-dies-during-new-york-city-triathlon.html

and this from USAT:
The five-member Medical Review Panel, consisting of three physicians and two race directors, reviewed data from 2003 through 2011 to identify patterns and possible strategies for preventing deaths in triathlon. During that time, 43 athlete fatalities were recorded during a race event, of which 5 were considered “traumatic,” caused by injuries from a cycling crash; of the remaining 38 deaths, 30 occurred during the swim, three took place during the bike, three during the run and two after the completion of the race.

A 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association stated triathlons are twice as deadly as marathons. With an overall rate of one death per 76,000 participants, the USAT study deemed triathlon’s fatality rate to be similar fatality rate to United States marathons (1 in 75,000).

Perhaps they should relocate the "Escape From Alcatraz" triathlon to Cancun?

ourswimmer
March 6th, 2013, 02:41 PM
Are there really currents in the bay?

A huge volume of water flows in and out of the Golden Gate twice a day, every day. At peak ebb or flow, it's far faster than any human can swim. Any Bay swim is planned entirely around the tide table. So to hold this race at all, they need a weekend day when the tide will be slack or just starting to move between 6 and 8 am. That consideration is surely far more important than a few degrees' fluctuation in water temperature.

In windy weather the Bay can be really choppy too. That problem could happen any time of year. Big enough chop should cancel the swim, but if they held the event only in glassy water they would not hold it ever.

gull
March 6th, 2013, 02:52 PM
Wait, current and chop?

philoswimmer
March 6th, 2013, 06:02 PM
A huge volume of water flows in and out of the Golden Gate twice a day, every day. At peak ebb or flow, it's far faster than any human can swim. Any Bay swim is planned entirely around the tide table. So to hold this race at all, they need a weekend day when the tide will be slack or just starting to move between 6 and 8 am. That consideration is surely far more important than a few degrees' fluctuation in water temperature.

Also, in the Alcatraz race that I did, we were given advice about the best route to follow if you were at all concerned about missing the entrance to the finish area, and I don't recall it being a problem for anyone. I'd be surprised if the majority of people who were removed were removed for that reason.

E=H2O
March 6th, 2013, 06:33 PM
Also, in the Alcatraz race that I did, we were given advice about the best route to follow if you were at all concerned about missing the entrance to the finish area, and I don't recall it being a problem for anyone.

The year I did it they instructed people to aim torward a specific structure in the city based on their speed. I underestimated my speed and ended up finishing by swimming with the fast tidal current. (I was swimming alone because I didn't trust the mob). I think easily over a 100 people overestimated their ability and missed the get out point and had to run back along the water on the beach.

Ken Classen
March 6th, 2013, 09:35 PM
I certainly wouldn’t discount water temperature as a possible contributing factor in this instance. As a non wetsuit OW swimmer from Colorado my first OW swim of the season will likely start in early May. The water temp will be in the low to mid 50’s. To reduce hyperventilation for that first swim of the season I will get in very slowly and allow my breathing to be fairly normal before I start to swim, I will begin in backstroke mode for a bit and then roll over as the face does seem to be more sensitive to cold water. I’m a swim coach, who leads open water swim clinics and does some private OW coaching. FYI the vast majority of the participants are triathletes. I teach many of my attendees this same method. Anxiety and resulting hyperventilation is a big issue for beginner OW swimmers wetsuit or not. My numerous observations say that it is magnified by colder water. Competitive people may not want to do this technique but if a slower start and a little backstroke prevents hyperventilation and a anxiety attack it might be better then getting pulled from the race or dying. Because Alcatraz races start from a ferry, I’d recommend non acclimatized swimmers to jump not dive and try to slowly breaststroke/tread water away from the ferry to get used to the water before pounding it towards shore. I have personal experience of rescuing a man in his mid to late fifties in a full on anxiety attack while training at local open water site, it turned out OK but it was it was bit wild for a while. Maybe the cardiologist on this board can tell us if an anxiety attack can lead to a heart attack?

All this being said, I do think it’s mainly up to the individual participant to be aware of risks. I looked for a copy of the liability waiver for the “Escape From Alcatraz” to see how clearly they articulated the risks but couldn’t find one on there web site. I remember a fairly intense waiver from when I did the Alcatraz Challenge a couple of years ago and I did find this waiver from Water World Swims who put on several swim events in the Bay. I think it’s very clear what the risks are.
EXPRESS ASSUMPTION OF RISK - WAIVER AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY ASSUMPTION OF THE RISKS OF BAY SWIMMING: Bay swimming is inherently dangerous. Bay swimmers have been injured and killed. For example, a fishing boat once killed a swimmer. Sea lions and other marine animals have attacked swimmers. Swimmers have been injured by objects in the water, both floating and fixed. There may be health hazards associated with pollution in the Bay.

Bay currents, often more powerful than the strongest swimmer, are unpredictable and have swept swimmers off course. BAY WATERS ARE COLD. Temperatures typically range between 45 and 61 degrees Fahrenheit. Swift currents and cold water have precipitated drowning, heart attacks and hypothermia. There are just some of the hazards and dangers associated with Bay swimming. http://www.waterworldswim.com/EventApplication_2010_FINAL2.pdf Finally after reading several reports and watching some vid's it seems clear to me his rescue attempt was well within the standard of care for this event like this, could it be improved? maybe, but stuff like this happens when we do stuff like this.

philoswimmer
March 6th, 2013, 10:09 PM
The year I did it they instructed people to aim torward a specific structure in the city based on their speed. I underestimated my speed and ended up finishing by swimming with the fast tidal current. (I was swimming alone because I didn't trust the mob). I think easily over a 100 people overestimated their ability and missed the get out point and had to run back along the water on the beach.

Running along the beach is not the same as needing to getting pulled out... and currents don't explain why there were three times as many people pulled out in this swim as compared to previous swims, unless they misread the tide charts.

chaos
March 6th, 2013, 10:52 PM
Running along the beach is not the same as needing to getting pulled out... and currents don't explain why there were three times as many people pulled out in this swim as compared to previous swims, unless they misread the tide charts.

Did a swim from the GG bridge to Aquatic Park with E=H2O and 8 others. We were riding the flood. 9 made it through the opening in the breakwater, one had to be towed...
thats a 10% current thwart ratio

philoswimmer
March 6th, 2013, 11:16 PM
Did a swim from the GG bridge to Aquatic Park with E=H2O and 8 others. We were riding the flood. 9 made it through the opening in the breakwater, one had to be towed...
thats a 10% current thwart ratio

That's a different swim...

chaos
March 6th, 2013, 11:20 PM
That's a different swim...

every day is a different swim

philoswimmer
March 6th, 2013, 11:23 PM
every day is a different swim

True enough, but you at least have to try to compare apples to apples -- same start, same finish.

chaos
March 6th, 2013, 11:27 PM
True enough, but you at least have to try to compare apples to apples -- same start, same finish.

same start, same finish in that corridor could be completely different within a 10 minute period.
Remember currents and tide predictions are only that... predictions. It is not an absolute science as there are too many variables.

philoswimmer
March 6th, 2013, 11:31 PM
same start, same finish in that corridor could be completely different within a 10 minute period.
Remember currents and tide predictions are only that... predictions. It is not an absolute science as there are too many variables.

But you reduce the variability by only comparing swims that start and end at the same place. You're coming from a different direction if you come from the GG bridge rather than Alcatraz. But I'm done with this back and forth, so keep insisting on comparing apples to oranges if you want.

Natalieswims
March 7th, 2013, 12:37 AM
Yeah I did it too with no wetsuit a few years ago with Shark Fest. It was pretty cool.
Poor guy...

E=H2O
March 7th, 2013, 02:36 AM
Running along the beach is not the same as needing to getting pulled out... and currents don't explain why there were three times as many people pulled out in this swim as compared to previous swims, unless they misread the tide charts.

I have not swam in the Bay as much as others on the forum; but in the half dozen swims I've done in the open Bay the primary things affecting the conditions were the tides, the winds and the presence of stationary objects, whether natural or artificial - not necessarily where you are encounteringthe conditions. As for the Alcatraz swim, the roughest conditions have been when a fast tide runs against a strong wind in the opposite direction. It results in confused seas that can unnerve even experienced open water swimmers.

It would be interesting to see what the conditions were like in the middle of the swim. Based on what I've seen the wind can pick up quickly early in the morning vastly changing the conditions in less than an hour. It's my understanding that the great majority of the swimmers pulled were significantly offline. The wind may have been running with the tide which could have pushed people further west than anticipated necessitating that people be pulled from the water.

Frankly, having done it once in a wetsuit I can assure you that it is literally impossible to sink in tri wet suits with 5 mil torso & legs. However, if surface conditions were very rough, and swallowing a bit of salt water is not your thing, you may have decided you wanted out - or decided you couldn't make it. The smartest swimmers are the ones that know they need help before things get out of control.

I don't think it had anything to do with the cold. Everyone wears a neo cap and once it and your wetsuit fill with water, and your face adapts to the cold, even a skinny slow stroking triathlete can stay warm in 50+ water.

gull
March 7th, 2013, 09:55 AM
The smartest swimmers are the ones that know they need help before things get out of control.

Or before they fibrillate.

Is there a water temperature at which it does become a factor? I'm just asking.

slow
March 7th, 2013, 09:58 AM
Sorry to hear about this man's death. Condolences to his family.

I've been considering doing this very event at some time in the future.

chaos
March 7th, 2013, 10:57 AM
Or before they fibrillate.

Is there a water temperature at which it does become a factor? I'm just asking.

I think the question should be: At what temperature does water temperature become THE greatest factor (which is what I think some posters have suggested is the case here); trumping other factors like training, conditioning, BMI, genetics, etc.

I don't believe that 50 degrees in a wetsuit qualifies for that distinction, and I don't believe that it is negligent for an event to be held in such conditions when the swim portion is described as "in frigid water".

gull
March 7th, 2013, 11:16 AM
I think the question should be: At what temperature does water temperature become THE greatest factor (which is what I think some posters have suggested is the case here); trumping other factors like training, conditioning, BMI, genetics, etc.

I don't believe that 50 degrees in a wetsuit qualifies for that distinction, and I don't believe that it is negligent for an event to be held in such conditions when the swim portion is described as "in frigid water".

I posted that "without question the cold water contributed to his death", in response to the race director's comment that it did not. No one suggested that other factors were not important.

Apparently catecholamine levels can increase by 300% in 59 degree water.

By the way, I have been told that he was healthy and had no family history of heart disease.

gull
March 7th, 2013, 11:49 AM
A recent article which is relevant to this topic--

http://jp.physoc.org/content/early/2012/04/30/jphysiol.2012.229864.full.pdf

E=H2O
March 7th, 2013, 12:02 PM
From a news article:

"Race organizer Bill Burke said officials plucked about 150 swimmers who were off course or struggling from the water and "repositioned" all but about 10 participants back in the water to complete the race."We pick them up and relocate them on the course," he said.

E=H2O
March 7th, 2013, 12:19 PM
A recent article which is relevant to this topic--

http://jp.physoc.org/content/early/2012/04/30/jphysiol.2012.229864.full.pdf

Great article. Cutting to the chase:

"Finally, we suggest that this concept, that is exemplified and perhaps amplified by cold water
immersion, may not be unique to cold water. While it is clearly difficult to test, it is possible that
Autonomic Conflict may be a common occurrence and may trigger SCD in association with a wide
range of environmental factors: a large lunch, a narrow coronary artery, a breath of cold air, anger, a
sudden shock, waking from sleep, an antihistamine, an undiagnosed sub-clinical channelopathy or
cardiac hypertrophy, may all combine in such a way as to turn this usually benign autonomic coactivation into a life-threatening arrhythmia."

gull
March 7th, 2013, 12:29 PM
"Cutting to the chase"?

Right. So we may conclude that the cold water did not contribute to the man's death. He likely would have died during lunch.

I think you missed the point. An autopsy will reveal if he had atherosclerosis and suffered a heart attack. But he may in fact have developed a lethal arrhythmia on the basis of cold water immersion, without a pre-existing cardiac condition.

E=H2O
March 7th, 2013, 01:09 PM
"Cutting to the chase"?

Right. So we may conclude that the cold water did not contribute to the man's death. He likely would have died during lunch.

I think you missed the point. An autopsy will reveal if he had atherosclerosis and suffered a heart attack. But he may in fact have developed a lethal arrhythmia on the basis of cold water immersion, without a pre-existing cardiac condition.

I didn't miss the point, but I think you are assuming that being in a wetsuit for 30 minutes qualify's as "cold". There has been no evidence that this swimmer was experiencing that. People have different opinions on what is cold based on their experience. Nevertheless, you don't know anything until you do an autopsy, and even then the results may not be conclusive. That was the point.

gull
March 7th, 2013, 01:46 PM
The water was 51 degrees. My only assumption is that his face was uncovered and exposed.

philoswimmer
March 7th, 2013, 01:48 PM
Maybe wetsuit wearers can comment on this: How does the water feel initially when you're suddenly immersed in it, as in the case here, where you jump in the water off the boat? Does it feel shockingly cold at first, and then you warm up, or are you warm from the outset?

chaos
March 7th, 2013, 02:15 PM
SIPE Swimming Induced Pulmonary Edema

from what I've read is not an uncommon occurrence.... in water that no one would describe as shockingly cold

E=H2O
March 7th, 2013, 02:21 PM
Maybe wetsuit wearers can comment on this: How does the water feel initially when you're suddenly immersed in it, as in the case here, where you jump in the water off the boat? Does it feel shockingly cold at first, and then you warm up, or are you warm from the outset?

Based on my only sub 60° wetsuit swim, when the cold water rushes into your suit it is almost as bad as no suit, but within minutes it is noticeably warmer. Same thing with neo caps although I question whether they are any better than traditional caps except for the first few minutes, and as a study shows, are very helpful when you first get out of cold water. Cold water on the face is cold water on the face. Capi;aries quickly constrict and unless you suffer from ice cream headaches it is a minor distraction at those temperatures.

My coldest experience was the swim chaos referred to which was swum in March and the water was 52°. That was 6° colder than I had swum before, and all I remember is that it felt no different jumping in than 58°. For me the sub 60° rule is jump in and swim like hell.

Rob Copeland
March 7th, 2013, 02:26 PM
SIPE Swimming Induced Pulmonary Edema

from what I've read is not an uncommon occurrence.... in water that no one would describe as shockingly coldIf you believe the always believable Jim Thornton, SIPE has more to do with Fish Oil than cold water. http://news.menshealth.com/fish-oil-supplements/2012/11/06/

chaos
March 7th, 2013, 02:27 PM
If you believe the always believable Jim Thornton, SIPE has more to do with Fish Oil than cold water. http://news.menshealth.com/fish-oil-supplements/2012/11/06/

Jim is a god to me!

gull
March 7th, 2013, 02:31 PM
Cold water on the face is cold water on the face. Capillaries quickly constrict and unless you suffer from ice cream headaches it is a minor distraction at those temperatures.

Unless you fibrillate, of course.

E=H2O
March 7th, 2013, 02:37 PM
Unless you fibrillate, of course.

And if you fibrillate, fish oil is not going to help you either. (Not to offend Jim)

Michael Heather
March 8th, 2013, 10:26 AM
From a news article:

"Race organizer Bill Burke said officials plucked about 150 swimmers who were off course or struggling from the water and "repositioned" all but about 10 participants back in the water to complete the race."We pick them up and relocate them on the course," he said.


Just my personal opinion, but does anyone else think this is a pretty bad idea? If someone is way off course or having problems, being picked up is one thing. Giving said swimmer the opportunity to get in again (with perhaps the same or worse results) doesn't seem to be very rational.

ekw
March 8th, 2013, 11:03 AM
Just my personal opinion, but does anyone else think this is a pretty bad idea? If someone is way off course or having problems, being picked up is one thing. Giving said swimmer the opportunity to get in again (with perhaps the same or worse results) doesn't seem to be very rational.

I think (and this is just my uninformed personal opinion) that if the swimmer is just off course but not in any other distress, then repositioning would be okay - but if they were struggling I agree that putting them back in the water doesn't seem wise.

ourswimmer
March 8th, 2013, 11:09 AM
Just my personal opinion, but does anyone else think this is a pretty bad idea? If someone is way off course or having problems, being picked up is one thing. Giving said swimmer the opportunity to get in again (with perhaps the same or worse results) doesn't seem to be very rational.

I think it's pretty common on Alcatraz swims for big groups, which may mean that in practice it usually works out OK.

__steve__
March 8th, 2013, 12:25 PM
Just the title of the race would be enough to scare me away.p

Sportygeek
March 9th, 2013, 01:14 AM
I've just seen a report on the race from Rudy Garcia-Tolson. He's a multiple Paralympic gold medalist and WR holder who has been doing triathlons since he was 9 (Ironman finisher - one hour swim split). He's done Alcatraz before.

His Tweet:

@RudyGTcaf: I consider my self a decent open water swimmer but that Alcatraz swim was brutal! 4ft swells white caps 50degree windy.. #crazy

rtodd
March 9th, 2013, 01:04 PM
Last two years I have extened my season to New Year. Water temp is high 30's, low 40's. I understand that 50 is quite a bit warmer that 40, but let's just describe the 40 degree experience.
It is a process to get going. I wear a neo cap, but no booties or gloves. First is walking in and out several times until the feet go numb this process lasts about 5-10 minutes. During this process, my breathing becomes rapid just from the pain. Once my feet are numb then I am able to walk in up to my waist and work on getting my hands numb which takes 5-10 minutes. Again it really hurts. Next is the face. I take a breath and quickly put my face in several times. This again takes 5-10 minutes before I can tolerate it for even a few seconds at a time. Then I do some backstroke and roll over and do a few strokes of freestyle. Once I feel I can tolerate the cold on my face, I begin my swim. You can see this process lasts 20-30 minutes and the trick is to do it as fast as you can before your core drops. Jumping off a boat is out of the question. During the beginning of the swim I have quite a bit of anxiety. It is not until I am really moving and I feel my core getting back up to temp that my confidence builds that I will be OK. During the swim the numbness climbs my forearms toward the elbows and slowly moves from my feet up my legs. I have no feeling of the fingers or face.
I am a very experienced OW swimmer and I don't have to deal with the anxiety that may come from other factors like chop, blackness, getting kicked in the face, sighting, whatever. What if you did have anxiety over these things and then added the cold water issue on top of that?

E=H2O
March 9th, 2013, 01:14 PM
Last two years I have extened my season to New Year. Water temp is high 30's, low 40's. I understand that 50 is quite a bit warmer that 40, but let's just describe the 40 degree experience.
It is a process to get going. I wear a neo cap, but no booties or gloves. First is walking in and out several times until the feet go numb this process lasts about 5-10 minutes. During this process, my breathing becomes rapid just from the pain. Once my feet are numb then I am able to walk in up to my waist and work on getting my hands numb which takes 5-10 minutes. Again it really hurts. Next is the face. I take a breath and quickly put my face in several times. This again takes 5-10 minutes before I can tolerate it for even a few seconds at a time. Then I do some backstroke and roll over and do a few strokes of freestyle. Once I feel I can tolerate the cold on my face, I begin my swim. You can see this process lasts 20-30 minutes and the trick is to do it as fast as you can before your core drops. Jumping off a boat is out of the question. During the beginning of the swim I have quite a bit of anxiety. It is not until I am really moving and I feel my core getting back up to temp that my confidence builds that I will be OK. During the swim the numbness climbs my forearms toward the elbows and slowly moves from my feet up my legs. I have no feeling of the fingers or face.
I am a very experienced OW swimmer and I don't have to deal with the anxiety that may come from other factors like chop, blackness, getting kicked in the face, sighting, whatever. What if you did have anxiety over these things and then added the cold water issue on top of that?

I missed the part where you explain why you enjoy doing it.

rtodd
March 9th, 2013, 03:56 PM
Great question.

Misoyu
March 9th, 2013, 03:58 PM
I agree. I swam on a relay to swim the Catalina Channel January 2008. All of us swam without wetsuits in water temps ranging from 50 ~ 54 degrees. It was not so bad. We, however, trained in such water temps for about 3 months before our Catalina Channel Relay. I am sad to hear that a person died at the event. It is unfortunate. There are, however, several possible issues for the man. First, it sounds like he might have had a heart condition to start with. Second, the man probably did not train in appropriate water temps. I live in San Antonio, TX. It is very hard to find very cold water around here. The coldest water I train in is my own swimming pool without a heater. Even Barton Springs in Austin, where the man was from, doesn't get any colder than 68 degrees year round. I hope more people will get check ups, train smart, and become more aware of their limits before its too later.

FindingMyInnerFish
March 11th, 2013, 12:38 AM
This, apparently, wasn't his first triathlon, so he no doubt had at least some experience in open water. But even for someone who's done tri's before, the conditions look pretty intimidating. If he was nervous, I can see why.

Last year, at the Boston Marathon, when temps were supposed to go into the 90s, they gave runners the option of deferring until this year. Perhaps the wise thing to do in races like this, is to offer participants a similar option. It would hopefully encourage those don't feel ready to handle the conditions a chance to pull out without losing the opportunity to try again.

gull
March 11th, 2013, 01:28 PM
I hope more people will get check ups, train smart, and become more aware of their limits before its too late.

It is comforting to assume that he wasn't fit (couldn't have been, right?), didn't train smart (ie, not like me), and didn't get check ups (because early detection of coronary artery disease, among other conditions, in an asymptomatic individual is straightforward, isn't it?).

The reality is that there is some degree risk of risk associated with a swim like this even under favorable conditions. And these conditions were most certainly not favorable.

chaos
March 11th, 2013, 02:17 PM
It is comforting to assume that he wasn't fit (couldn't have been, right?), didn't train smart (ie, not like me), and didn't get check ups (because early detection of coronary artery disease, among other conditions, in an asymptomatic individual is straightforward, isn't it?).

The reality is that there is some degree risk of risk associated with a swim like this even under favorable conditions. And these conditions were most certainly not favorable.

Reality is; training for a swim in the SF bay should include cold, rough water. And informed participants should determine if the degree of risk is acceptable for themselves. An insurance provider will only determine whether the policy will be profitable.

__steve__
March 11th, 2013, 02:26 PM
Gull, can pre-race anxiety increase one's risk (in addition to other factors that do) for asymptomatic individuals?

gull
March 11th, 2013, 02:37 PM
This was an organized event with a race director who had a responsibility to assess the conditions of the bay that morning.

Most of the participants lack your open water abilities (with which we are all duly impressed).

chaos
March 11th, 2013, 03:15 PM
This was an organized event with a race director who had a responsibility to assess the conditions of the bay that morning.

I would assume they did, and I would also assume that they considered the conditions to be not outside the range of what one might expect from the description of the event... if you have information to the contrary, please share it.

So if you, and the others posting on this thread that believe the event should have been canceled would be kind enough, please:
What are acceptable water temps? (high and low)
What are acceptable accompanying air temps? (high and low)
What is an acceptable wave amplitude?
What is an acceptable cross current speed?
What should be the limit on the number of participants?
How far should they be spaced out for the start?
Who should certify whether a swimmer is qualified to participate in an event?
Should an event director check the fit of wetsuits? too lose, too tight? BMI? etc.

gull
March 11th, 2013, 03:27 PM
I would assume they did, and I would also assume that they considered the conditions to be not outside the range of what one might expect from the description of the event... if you have information to the contrary, please share it.

So if you, and the others posting on this thread that believe the event should have been canceled would be kind enough, please:
What are acceptable water temps? (high and low)
What are acceptable accompanying air temps? (high and low)
What is an acceptable wave amplitude?
What is an acceptable cross current speed?
What should be the limit on the number of participants?
How far should they be spaced out for the start?
Who should certify whether a swimmer is qualified to participate in an event?
Should an event director check the fit of wetsuits? too lose, too tight? BMI? etc.

Not my job. But in my line of work, when there is a death you need to question whether you should have handled things differently.

chaos
March 11th, 2013, 03:47 PM
Not my job. But in my line of work, when there is a death you need to question whether you should have handled things differently.

I'm sure there will be an investigation. Still... USAT seems to accept that there are risks involved in competition.

This is the release from an event I recently participated in (not a USAT event). The word "death" occurs 3x. I signed it, but didn't get parental consent.:

I, __________________________________________________ ___ (please print full name of competitor), in
consideration of being allowed by Mad River Glen Cooperative to participate in
__________________________________________________ ________ (print name of event) at Mad River Glen,
and any preparatory training therefore, do hereby release and agree to hold harmless and indemnify the directors,
officers, shareholders, agents, servants, and employees of Mad River Glen Cooperative of any and all corporations
who are involved, whether they merely own the land or are directly involved in the management of Mad River Glen
and its insurance carrier, and the directors, officers, shareholders, any and all agents, servants, and employees of
such insurance carrier from any and all claims, actions, or damages without any limitation whatsoever, whether
consisting of personal injury, property damage, or death that does or may result in any way from my participation in
these competitive sporting events, whether such injuries of any kind or nature or such death is caused by their
negligence or not, assuming myself any and all responsibility and liability for the same. I further agree to indemnify
and hold harmless all of those above named from any damages or cost or expense whatsoever which they or any of
them sustain as a result of any claim brought by anyone against any of them as a result of my preparation for and/or
my participation these competitive sporting events.
I, as a competitor, completely understand that this paragraph constitutes a covenant and a promise on my part to
fully discharge all of the above-named parties from any and all liability of any kind for any injuries, loss, damage, or
death which may result from my participation in these competitive sporting events.
Additionally, in consideration of being permitted to compete in these events, I hereby release Mad River Glen
Cooperative and any other sponsors, promoters, etc., their successors, agents, servants, and all other persons for all
claims, demands, and causes of action of any kind of nature which I may have or ever will have arising out of or
connected with the filming (movies or still) and taping (voice or otherwise) of me during such competition and the
use thereof of such materials as shall result from these activities by anyone thereafter. I consent to making of such
photographs and films and/or tapes, and the further use, reproduction, and publication of the same in perpetuity,
worldwide and in any and all media, whether nor known or hereafter developed.
This release is binding, and I so understand, not only upon myself but upon my heirs, administrators, executors, and
assigns, and I herewith again reaffirm my free and willing intent to execute it, acknowledging a complete
understanding of its terms and conditions and the totality of its effect, and the totalness of the waiver of any rights
that I would otherwise have had, had this agreement not been executed.

smontanaro
March 11th, 2013, 04:37 PM
I'm curious to know if the meet director, Bill Burke, considered canceling or postponing the event. I know it was moved ahead by a few months to avoid a conflict with the America's Cup. Burke appears to be a very experienced meet director. Might he have wanted to wanted to postpone but been overruled?

KatieK
March 11th, 2013, 06:07 PM
Maybe wetsuit wearers can comment on this: How does the water feel initially when you're suddenly immersed in it, as in the case here, where you jump in the water off the boat? Does it feel shockingly cold at first, and then you warm up, or are you warm from the outset?


Based on my only sub 60° wetsuit swim, when the cold water rushes into your suit it is almost as bad as no suit, but within minutes it is noticeably warmer.

I've been swimming in cold water (down to 58F) with triathletes for years. I wear a swimsuit. They wear long-sleeved wetsuits, neoprene caps and neoprene booties. They CRY getting in 65-degree water. I've seen guys that were ready to bail on a swim because the water was too cold until they saw me in my bikini, quietly easing my way in. An observer would assume that they were suffering way more than I was.

I'd never worn a wetsuit myself, so I always assumed it was like E=H20 said.

Then, I wore a sleeveless wetsuit in 61-degree water for Ironman Arizona. (I only did the swim portion of the race.) Except for the practice swim the day before, I'd never worn a wetsuit. I was SHOCKED at how warm I felt from the very first moment. I felt the chill of the water on my bare arms, but it was NOTHING. I got in the water 10 minutes before the start, and I didn't even have to move to stay warm.

(Without the wetsuit, 61-degrees is pretty darn cold for me. I could have done the 2.4-mile swim without it, but I couldn't have handled waiting at the start.)


Here's my non-expert opinion on triathlon swim deaths: Panic is bad for you, especially if you have a heart condition. Different things cause panic for different people, but a tight wetsuit, a chaotic race start, choppy water, race-day anxiety and an initial shock of cold water would be hot buttons for most people.

Even though I've just said what a tough little cookie I am, I would be afraid to dive headfirst into 52-degree water. Even if I were mummified in neoprene. I would want to be in the water for a few moments before submerging my head.