The triathlon world is significantly larger than the open water swimming community in America.

The number of triathletes number in the millions as the number of multi-sport events and newcomers continues to exponentially expand. Compared with open water swimming, the sport sends more athletes – some unprepared even with wetsuits – in the open water with many more coaches, volunteers, trainers, administrators, physiologists, nutritionists and physicians in attendance.

This phenomena has led to a significant accumulation of information and knowledge. Sharing this plethora of information among open water swimming race directors is becoming increasingly important because there have been many accidents, hospitalizations and deaths in triathlons compared with open water swimming. The triathlon race directors have faced many different and significantly diverse problems that they have had to deal with.

As the triathlon community in America becomes more responsive and knowledgeable about these incidents and their prevention and consequences over time, the open water swimming event directors can learn what to do and not to do in these emergencies.

We recently learned that triathletes with arrhythmia (problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat that can lead to the heart beating beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly), pacemakers, or cardiac ablations (a procedure that corrects heart rhythm problems by using catheters to correct structural problems in the heart) have collapsed after crossing the finish line. What happens is that erratic electric signals occasionally lead to the collapse during the transition from active to resting heart rate – or vice versa.

At the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, there will be a cross-sharing of medical, emergency and physiological information among participating race directors in the triathlon and open water swimming community. But the time to start sharing is now.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association