Ironman officials confirmed an athlete died during the swim portion of the 70.3 race in St. George yesterday, but aren’t releasing details yet out of respect for the family.
“We are incredibly saddened to confirm the death of a race participant,” said an official statement.
The athlete reportedly came under distress during the swim, was identified by swim safety personnel and immediately received medical attention, according to officials. “The well-being of our competitors is paramount,” said the statement.
Just over 2,500 athletes finished the North American 70.3 Championships in temperatures that hit the mid-90s, though the cold water hovered just above 60 F. While around 3,500 were originally reported to be registered, many athletes didn’t start the race. It was still one of the largest events in North America since the start of the COVID pandemic and featured Ironman’s Return to Racing health and safety protocols. That included a rolling spaced-out start and additional resting platforms placed in the water during the swim to allow for athletes to stop and rest if needed. However, because of COVID protocols, age group athletes were not allowed to warm-up in the water as they have been in the past as part of Ironman’s Swim Smart program.
In the pro field, the men’s race was won by Canada’s Lionel Sanders in a tight battle over American Sam Long. The two raced shoulder-to-shoulder until Sanders pulled ahead by four seconds in the last half-mile. Swiss superstar Daniela Ryf dominated the women’s race, finishing just under five minutes ahead of South African Jeannie Seymour, who put down one of the fastest runs of the day.
Spectators at home were able to watch the event on the Ironman Now Facebook channel.
The death was the first during an event since races have returned. Athletes also commented on Ironman’s Facebook post that one athlete required CPR during the bike leg. “We share our greatest sympathies with the family and friends of the athlete and will continue to offer them our support as they go through this very difficult time,” said the statement from Ironman.
We will update this story with more details as they become available.