After two athletes died at the 2011 New York City Triathlon, race organizers added multiple safety precautions ahead of Sunday’s race.
The first flecks of orange sunlight had just begun to peer over the city skyline when the earliest swimming heats began in the Hudson River, starting at 5:50 a.m. But the heat — the latest edition of the broiling wave that has oppressed New York and other parts of the country for the past few weeks — was not far behind.
After last year’s race, in which two competitors died in the water, apparently after heart attacks, the race owner John Korff added additional measures of security. Before entering the race this year, all participants had to sign a statement indicating that they had completed at least one half-mile of open-water swimming in the last 18 months.
“We did a lot to make sure the athletes were prepared,” Korff said. “I think they got it — swimming in the Hudson is still swimming in the Hudson. It’s not like taking a bath.”
Heats were more spaced out — 15 athletes dove in every 20 seconds — as opposed to previous years, when as many as 150 would often enter the water for the 1,500-meter swim at the same time. “That cuts down on the washer-machine effect,” Korff said.
And support crews remained vigilant. On the Hudson alone, there were 3 motorboats; 5 water scooters; 30 lifeguards and kayakers; and 10 spotters manning five zones on the eastern bank overlooking the river.
Read more: Nytimes.com