Lap swimming is no way to train for a triathlon swim! even the New York Times says so; there, memorize that triathlete!
Clay Evans once told me this: If you are training for an open water race in the ocean and you have never swam in the ocean before and the first day you do will be on race day, it is a requirement that you be able to break 1-minute for a 100-freestyle.
I argued that my first open water race was in the ocean and that I lap swam in a pool to train. He countered that I spent 20-years surfing up and down the coast so I had plenty of ocean experience. He is right. The ocean is no lake.
I have to believe that fitness, technique, conditions, and age are a factor in these deaths though there have been swimmers who are quite fit and well practiced but have died too. I suspect those swimmers are in the minority but the ones they were trained most likely had heart pre-conditions that made them susceptible to death.
Here is what the New York Times had to say:
Harris’s study in The Journal of the American Medical Association recommended that triathlons screen participants more stringently to require certification in open-water swims.
“That might be hard to implement,” Harris said Monday.
But Burke said next year’s triathlon might require such a certification, as well as others.
“We might require some certification like, ‘Have you been checked by a medical professional in the last eight months?’ ” he said.
Or how about a questionnaire? Have you raced in the ocean before, what event, what was your time? Have you swam in a USMS sanctioned swim meet? What was the event and what was your time. Then stagger the swimmers accordingly.
I see an opportunity for the US Masters and they should seize on it.