‘Very Frightening’: Two Swimmers Die During Ironman Triathlon

Two participants in the Ironman Triathlon in southwestern Ireland died Sunday while competing in the swimming segment, local authorities said.

“Cork County Council is deeply saddened over the tragic loss of two race participants during the IRONMAN 70.3 Ireland, Cork 2023 event in Youghal today,” Cork City Council said in a brief statement. “Our deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of the athletes at this incredibly difficult time.”

Authorities identified Ivan Chittenden, a male in his 60s from Toronto, Canada, and Brendan Wall, a male in his 40s from Solihull, England, the Irish Examiner reported. Emergency services removed the men from the water and medical personnel pronounced them dead, the Garda Síochána, Ireland’s national police, reportedly said. The bodies will be examined post-mortem Monday, per the report.

The two men had joined over 2,000 participants in the 1.9-km (about 1.2-miles) swimming segment of the triathlon at Youghal’s Front Strand, the Irish Examiner noted. The organizers reportedly had halved the length of the swim, originally 3.8 km (about 2.4 miles) long. (RELATED: Former Olympic Swimmer Dies Unexpectedly At 43)

The weather was overcast with a storm system named Betty, and the sea was rough, deterring some participants as some others shouted for help in the water.

“When we got in there, the waves were smacking us. The waves were coming up over my head. But once you got to the buoy and turned your head and saw the lighthouse, it was grand,” said Irishman Robert Larkin, per the report.

Though proud of him for finishing the race, Robert’s mother, Jackie, initially fretted about the swimming portion. “It was very frightening, actually, looking at it. You just wanted them all to be finished,” she said.

The organizers were “deeply saddened to confirm the death” of the two participants and shared “our greatest sympathies with the families and friends of the athletes” while promising to “continue to offer them our support as they go through this very difficult time,” per the report.

The Ironman Triathlon, consisting of cycling, running and swimming, is known as one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.