Bad things happen in threes

Another triathlete lost her life this weekend.  An Oshkosh woman died during the swim portion of her first sprint tri.  That’s three in Wisconsin, just this year.  My thoughts and prayers go out to Kim Schmidt’s family, and continue to be with Daniel Murry’s and Julie Silletti’s families.

As of mid-July (so, not including this most recent death), there have been 23 deaths in USAT-sanctioned events since 2004. The New York Times reported on the phenomenon of triathlon deaths back in 2008.  The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal weighed in after Daniel Murry’s death at Pewaukee. It hasn’t escaped the mainstream media that more than half the deaths are during the swim portion.

There is lots of speculation about the cause of swimming deaths, from cold water to long-QT syndrome to jellyfish.

The truth is that competing in triathlons is either just slightly less or slightly more dangerous than running marathons, (depending on which study you read) and that there is some inherent danger in any physical activity.

However, there is inherent danger in LIFE.  From skydiving to showing horses, and from driving a car to eating wheat, the hooded figure of Death will visit you at a time and place of his choosing, not yours.

As I did after Daniel Murry died, I re-affirm my committment to risk my life by living it. Every time I pull on a swimsuit, strap on a helmet or lace up my sneakers, I’m gambling with my life.  I could have a heart attack, drown, stroke, get hit by a car, attacked by a dog, anything.

I welcome it.

I’m not reckless, I don’t have a death wish, I don’t take silly risks.  But when I’m training or racing, and my heart is pumping, my breathing is ragged, my legs feel like lead and I’m soaked with sweat, I feel alive, and I feel healthy.  I’m not going to let that go, not for anything.

I hope lots more people do triathlons.  I encourage my friends and family to get into it, and always am willing to offer advice or be a training buddy.  I hope YOU do a triathlon someday.  But be safe.  This article from the Journal-Sentinal’s blog gives some good tips for preparing for your first tri, and some good tips for making the swim go a little easier even if you’ve done it before.  In summary: Prepare. Swim in open water (with a buddy or a support boat) BEFORE the race.  Swim in your wetsuit BEFORE the race.  On race day, get in the water BEFORE you have to line up for the start.  Knowing what it feels like to swim in colder, choppier water than your local pool will help you not panic on race day.

I have a bunch of stories to tell, and I’m a bad blogger.  But hopefully I’ll get back into the swing of posting this week as I prepare for the Pleasant Prarie sprint on Sunday, Aug. 16.


One Response to Bad things happen in threes

  1. Jen Littmann says:

    after reading your post I feel SLIGHTLY better about my upcoming 1st tri!
    : )

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