A couple suggestions for not dying in a triathlon

The article in the New York Times about fatalities during triathlon races seemed alarming. For anyone associated with these losses of life, it is indeed tragic, but that is true for all sports. The numbers are in fact reassuring. It has been extrapolated by Dan Empfield that at the current highest rate ever of deaths during triathlons, this year there will be 4 deaths per 100,000 participants. Each triathlete does more than one triathlon per year, so that number is even smaller per occurences. This compares extremely favorably to other sports, even wrestling, and especially equestrian sports which are still riskier than skydiving. Nevertheless, however insignificant the statistic, it is still there and none of us wants to contribute to it. We donít have to. The following are suggestions for staying very much alive.
1.Do the geometry. If you start 20 feet away from the rope and swim1/2 mile, how much farther do you have to go?
2. If you seed yourself in the front and have 5 hell-bent bodies swim over you, how much time do you lose or gain?
3. How many laps in the pool do you swim before feeling comfortable and breathing easy? How many strokes per lap? My guess is that you are most uncomfortable on the third lap and get into a pleasant zone on the fourth. If you do 10 strokes cycles per length, 20 per lap, that would be 60 stroke cycles before you have left your anaerobic mode behind and entered aerobic.Therefore I strongly suggest you count 100 stroke cycles before you mentally enter race mode. Better yet, do a minimum of 100 strokes before the race begins. In any case, start slow and you will soon pass all those who would have swum over you.
The deaths this year and in the past, while in the water, have not been caused by drowning. The beginning of the swim is the most stressful part of the whole race. Unless you are really doomed to die at that moment, whatever ails you can wait a couple hundred strokes. Bottom line: DO NOT RACE WHEN THE GUN GOES OFF. However many seconds you gain in the first 200 yards, you can easily take off in the transition. And live to tell about it.

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