NYC Triathlon Adds Open Water Swimming Requirement

Michael Buteau of Bloomberg reported that the New York City Triathlon added an open water swimming qualification standard due to two triathletes (a 40-year-old female and a 64-year-old male) who died of heart attacks during the swim leg of the 2011 1.5K swim – 40K bike – 10K run event.

The New York City Triathlon officials will require triathletes to complete an openwater swim of at least a half mile within 18 months of the event. The mandatory requirement includes an online commitment to do the qualification swim and signing a waiver that informs them of the demands of the 1.5K swim leg in the Hudson River.

John Korff who stages the annual race will only require a positive response in the online registration process and will not require documentation. “We can’t mandate they do [the half-mile swim] because then we have to verify it. How do we ever know? You assume responsibility for your own actions,” explained John to Bloomberg. John worked closely with USA Triathlon to create the swimming requirement. The required swim must be completed in a lake, river or ocean and can be done using a USA Triathlon-certified wetsuit.

With the growing number of injuries and deaths that are occurring in open water swims and triathlon swim legs around the world, especially since after the inclusion of the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, this move by the NYC Triathlon organizers is a good move in the right direction.

However, when the deaths and other near accidents are analyzed, Open Water Source and other lifesaving professionals strongly encourage more aggressive and comprehensive actions in order to create safer aquatic environments and minimize the inherent risks of open water, especially when thousands of inexperienced athletes enter the waterways of the world.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones