Panic Attacks May Explain Triathletes' Deaths

It often sets in during the swimming portion, writes competitor
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2011 4:49 PM CST
Panic Attacks May Explain Triathletes' Deaths
Panic attacks may be the cause triathletes' deaths.   (AP Photo/ITU, Arnold Lim)

(Newser) – At least nine people died this summer during triathlons, and one competitor has a theory about what's going on: panic attacks, specifically during the swimming portion of the race. As in earlier years, almost all the deaths (eight, in this case) occurred in the water, writes David Brown in the Washington Post. What could prompt an experienced athlete to drown? The swimming portion produces anxiety thanks to everything from “the excitement of the moment,” to a wetsuit’s constriction of the chest, to “the chaos of swimming into and over other people,” writes Brown, who has felt the panic himself.

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Trouble is, an autopsy can’t tell you whether such an attack occurred, and US triathlon officials seem not to have investigated how often they happen. Fortunately, races have begun helping participants cope with anxiety, but it’s time for “the whole sport” to do “a better job" addressing the issue, he writes. Read the full post here. (Read more triathlon stories.)

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