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Monday, May 6, 2013

Is Swimming The Most Dangerous Leg In Triathlons?

It is a common understanding among the media and triathlon community that open water swimming is the most dangerous leg of their sport. This belief is due to the fact that nearly 100% of the fatalities during triathlon competitions occur during the swim leg.

While this fact is true and the number of fatalities are well-reported in the media and discussed at all levels of the sport, there is another way to look upon risk and danger in the sport of triathlon.

Every triathlete knows the sport requires time, energy and commitment. While the racing component of the sport can be pressure-packed, expensive and stressful, it is the training for the sport that is all encompassing, time-consuming, and stressful.

For every hour spent racing, every triathlete spends tens of hours – and in some cases hundreds of hours – training outside competition.

And every triathlete knows that the total amount of time spent training in a pool or in an open body of water for the swim leg is miniscule compared with the training required for the cycling and running components of triathlon. Triathletes literally spend thousands of hours on the streets pumping away on their bicycle and on the pavement pounding away miles to prepare for their sprint, Olympic distance, half Ironman and full Ironman competitions - and swimming is only a fraction of this time.

And while it is rare for triathletes to get hurt or injured during their swim practices, the same is not true of the land-based legs of the triathlon - where accidents, injuries and incidents unfortunately occur much more than water-based problems. From our perspective in Southern California living near the well-traveled Pacific Coast Highway, we see accidents nearly every day due to the encounter between motor vehicles and triathletes on wheels. Especially in urban environments, but even in rural settings, there are accidents that occur when drivers and triathletes unexpectedly and unintentionally meet.

These are the inherent risks that triathletes face. So while open water swimming may have the reputation of being the most dangerous leg of a triathlon, if we look at the totality of the sport where races and training sessions are both considered, there appears - at least anecdotally - to be higher risk of injuries and accidents out on the bike and roads rather than in the water.

Photo shows professional marathon swimmer and professional triathlete Sara McLarty.

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming

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Open Water Swimming Magazine

Open Water Swimming Magazine

The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...

The Other Shore

The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.

2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac

An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.

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