That is not an acceptable failure rate for two triathletes nearly died. These statistics come form the "authorities;" (Read as L.A. County Lifeguards), who summarily expressed surprised by saying: it was "...unclear why so many swimmers needed assistance."
Race organizers backpedaled stating these stats were overstated which is definitely a bold statement since a lifeguard has to file a report on each rescue.
From KTLA 5:
Paramedics say one person nearly drowned and another was treated for saltwater in her lungs.
And, a female lifeguard was hospitalized after suffering a back injury during a water rescue.
The USAT solution for making the swim portion of the triathlon safer has been to simply make shorter swims and push wetsuits. Not a bad idea since most triathletes who are determined to swim on their own can't break 2-minutes-per-100-yards.
The swim portion of an Olympic distance race back when I was handsome and I occasionally made girls swoon rather than cover their eyes and shout ZOMBIE, was 2-kilometer swim; now it is 1.5-kilometers.
Eventually a lawsuit will make its way to the USAT when swimmers; plural, who have no business racing in the ocean drown because the USAT has no swim certification process in pace.
When you enter the Alcatraz Sharkfest they make it clear that you must be able to swim 1-mile in a pool in under 40-minutes or don't enter. Perhaps that is the benchmark that should be used. Look! if someone is going to swim a mile in a lake or an ocean, they should prove it in a pool first at a USMS swim meet. The infrastructure is in place, all they have to do is finish a 1500-meter free in set time.
The USAT would be doing these people favors to insist on that. Even the Ironman makes you fill out a de facto resume before you can enter as a way of certifying your qualifications.
Now for a change of subject:
I want to do an info-graphic on triathletes. Doing research I found that by age 40, athlete participation falls significantly. By ages 50-and-up the field is extraordinarily soft. With that said, what really shocked me is that young adults participate less than those 40-and-above. Could that be our crashed economy, since the entry-cost for a triathlete is quite significant or is obesity & sedentary culture more "fun" for this demographic?
That is a worrisome demographic trend for the USAT.
Triathletes expenses are high, why they can't afford $50 - $70 for a coached swim workout per month where they can actually master the toughest event which happens to be way cheaper than a week doing yoga baffles me.
Swim cap: $8.00 (silicone)
Wetsuit: $200 - $650
Low-end costs: $263
High-end costs: $713
Water bottle: $0.00
Bicycle: $1200 - $5,000
Cycle tune-ups and tires: $300
Low-end costs $1,840
High-end costs $5,640
Running shoes: $115
Guesstimate cost: $150
The photo to the right was taken in 1986 in a triathlon that featured Mark Allen, Scott Molina and Scott Tinley. They beat me.