Triathlete dies in NYC Triathlon...swimming in Hudson River..

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by chess9, Jul 21, 2008.

  1. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

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    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/more/07/21/triathlon.death/index.html?cnn=yes

    The NYC Health Department strongly advises against swimming in the East River and the Hudson River because the bacteria level is extremely high.

    I swam the river from the point near the Twin Trade Towers (Battery Park) to Liberty Park, in 1985. Unfortunately, just before the start of the swim, a US battleship parked itself right in front of the swim start. After two hours of frantic calling, the battleship moved out of the way, but by then the currents had changed for the worse and only a handful of swimmers made it to Liberty Park. I was picked up by a rescue boat in the middle of the River with a guy who swam for USC! Neither of us could make any headway. The swim portion was accordingly cancelled and it became, effectively, a duathlon with a 90 mile cycle race to Philadelphia, followed by 10K run around and near "Rocky's" Library. They even played Rocky as we ran up the library's steps. :)

    The water was the worst water I ever swam in. I wouldn't do it again and have never recommended anyone else do it.

    I suspect this guy got hit in the start and drowned. The starts are a bit of a wrestling match. No place for a rookie up front at the start.

    -Robert
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2008
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  2. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    Good advice. The ironic thing is people probably participate in triathlons for their health. Isn't the water in the Hudson River black? I'm not sure what happened with that battleship. Did it create these currents that prevented swimmers from going forward? Anyway, I'll never swim in the Hudson River.
     
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  3. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

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    Like all bodies of water, the Hudson River has tides. Trust me, they are very strong. ;) It was bad timing. By the time the ship got out of the way, we could only swim upstream, and needed to swim downstream slightly to Liberty Park.

    The river wasn't black in 1985, but it was fecal brown and had a distinct metallic taste. You get the idea....:) Before the race, the race organizer read a letter from the city health department. If I hadn't been a dumb jock, I'd have packed up my bags and left.

    -Robert
     
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  4. xtremerunnerars

    xtremerunnerars Hall of Fame

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    That river has been heavily used for forever, just look through history. On top of that it got really heavy use being in New York during heavy construction/industrialization back when standards were scarce.
     
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  5. snoopy

    snoopy Professional

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    Last edited: Jul 22, 2008
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  6. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

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    Snoopy:

    Thanks for that. That's a lovely promo piece for the Parks and Recreation Department. "Cleaner than it used to be...." Well, what does that mean? I have a feeling the scientists and water quality folks over at the Department of Health would probably get a big chuckle out of that one. And, are those races put on and sanctioned by the Parks and Recreation Department? Hmmm...I don't think so. Liability issues would be too sticky.

    Believe it or not, that race I did was not the most dangerous swim I've ever done. Two others qualify as much worse. The one that was really horrific was at the International Swimmer's Hall of Fame Triathlon in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The morning of that race as we boarded buses that would take us from the bike transition area to the swim start about a mile North, it was foggier than a State Department briefing on Niger yellowcake. When we arrived at the swim start, freezing our collective asses off, some fog lights were switched on and a lifeguard with a bullhorn appeared. He said: "Good morning racers! I have good news, and I have bad news. First, the good news. The surf is only 8 feet! Now the bad news. We have a severe infestation of Portuguese Man O'War in the swim course. If you are allergic to jelly fish stings, we cannot recommend that you do this race."

    At that point, about 150 racers turned and boarded the buses. That left about 200 others dumb enough to race. I was one of them. I had never been stung by a jelly fish, but I wasn't allergic to bee stings, so I decided it couldn't be too bad. (This turned out to be a major mistake.) I was actually more worried about the heavy chop because I get a little seasick when swimming in heavy surf for an extended period of time.

    Once the race started we were swimming parallel to the shore heading South and every time I turned to breathe to my right I'd look to the shore and see red lights and ambulances lined up along the road. What happened? Was there a major fire, car accident, or what? :) As it turned out, all the ambulances made multiple trips to the emergency room with swimmers who had been stung. I was probably stung 50 times, including a very painful group of stings under my right armpit. When I finally staggered ashore, I was seasick, dizzy and thought I would throw up. I was right-I did! :) People were strewn all over the beach and there was much moaning and cursing and the taking of the Lord's name in vain. :) After about 10 minutes in transition, I managed to get on my bike and start riding. While on the bike I was trying to keep small amounts of fluid down but kept throwing up. (No, stopping didn't occur to me.) I think the bike leg was only about 25 miles through the streets of Ft. Lauderdale. I survived, and started the 8 mile run. After over an hour and 30 minutes, I finished the run. I finished something like 40th overall, out of about 100 or so finishers. I was 43.

    :)

    -Robert
     
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  7. xtremerunnerars

    xtremerunnerars Hall of Fame

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    OOOOOOOOOOoo!!!

    Granpa chess9, what's the other bad story?
     
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  8. The Home Run Kid

    The Home Run Kid Rookie

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    I still think of that Seinfeld episode where Kramer stinks up Elaine's bed from swimming in the East River.... classic.

    I couldn't even imagine doing a triathalon, but how often is there a fatality in one? Chess9, is it is a... well not common, but does it happen like once, twice every five years?
     
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  9. Phil

    Phil Hall of Fame

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    Why would any sane and intelligent individual swim in the Hudson?

    Sorry, Chess...I mean, you're highly intelligent...except for those white out periods when you're jumping in the friggin' Hudson!;-)
     
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  10. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

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    Yes, I agree. But, in my defense, I went to the race with a doctor, a dentist, a World Bank senior Executive, and a housewife. Of those, one would have thunk the housewife would have had enough sense to just say 'no'. But, no, she jumped in with great glee.

    Don't worry, I won't be doing that again. ;) Sort of like voting for Bush ONCE.

    -Robert
     
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  11. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

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    Yes, we lose someone on average about once or twice a year. Undetected heart disease, and some rookie moves on the swim or bike course are the usual causes.

    -Robert
     
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  12. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

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    The other story involves my first triathlon. It was in N.J. at the shore in NOVEMBER! We were swimming down an inlet to the bike transition area. The morning of the race it was about 30 degrees outside, and the water was about 50 degrees. Because the tides were very strong in that section of the inlet, we had to wait about 40 minutes to start in the freezing weather for the tide to change. No one was wearing a wet suit in those days. After standing around that long, almost naked, when we finally got the go ahead I figured the water would be a blessed relief, so I dove right in. But I quickly realized that 50 degree water will feel like -50 degree water! It took me 10 minutes to get my breath back and I don't think I got any feeling in my arms and legs until about mile 20 on the bike. Fortunately, the sun came out in time for the run and I finished strong. The guy who won that race was 17 at the time and went on to become a well-known Triathlon pro.

    I went to that race with a friend, who videotaped the whole affair. When we got home, we watched the tape and discovered that the woman who came out of the swim leg with me was right next to me changing into her bike clothes and she simply stripped off her bathing suit and re-dressed. I saw none of that while I was changing. Since those days, specific tri clothing has been developed, and nudity is verboten. Back in the early days, everyone just changed right in the open and spectators were usually filming the naked athletes. :)

    -Robert
     
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  13. snoopy

    snoopy Professional

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    Cool stories Chess9, you are certifiably crazy, haha.

    I just saw on the news this morning that lead levels in Hudson River fish have dropped to 30 year lows. They say you cant eat them once in a while but I wouldn't. Although it's probably better than farm raised fish imported from China.
     
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  14. mendozer

    mendozer New User

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    Alot of these events, i.e. triathalons, marathons don't screen and many non professionals participate in these event with detrimental effects. For example my sister's friend ran the NY marathon without any training thinking that as a pilates instructor she could get through it. She became very ill after the marathon and didn't even finish it.

    On a side note I was with these kids and one of them filled a cup up with water from the east river and drank it for 20 dollars.
     
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  15. goober

    goober Legend

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    WTH does pilates have to do with long distance running? If she were in another endurance sport I could *maybe* see some crossover, but even then you can't just go into a marathon without any training. That's plain crazy.
     
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  16. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

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    If you go to any marathon, heck even a 5K, you will see lots of under-prepared and un-prepared 'athletes'. Rates of injuries among runners are high, in part because they don't train properly. Almost everyone thinks they can go out and make through a 5K, or so it seems. So, they'll do a few loops around their neighborhood and then enter a 5K. Shin splints, PF, knee problems, sore backs, ad nauseam, are the consequence. This problem is equally apparent at many triathlons, except the Ironman competitions where the fitness levels are very high. Ditto for the Boston Marathon, where one must have a qualifying time.

    -Robert
     
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