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ironman tragedy

Irish Water Safety will incorporate 'learnings' from Ironman tragedy into its guidance

Two men died in the swim portion of the triathlon over the weekend.

WATER SAFETY IRELAND has extended its sympathies to the families of two men who died during the swim leg of an Ironman triathlon over the weekend, saying it will incorporate any learnings from the tragedy into its guidance and education.

Brendan Wall and Ivan Chittenden died in separate incidents during the 1.9 km swim section of the Ironman event on Claycastle Beach in Youghal on Sunday morning.

The deaths are being treated as tragedies.

A spokesperson for Water Safety Ireland said everyone at the organisation was “saddened at the tragic loss of life that occurred over the weekend in Youghal, and we wish to pass on our deepest sympathy to the families of the two athletes.

“Loss of life is always tragic, and particularly in this instance where two individuals have passed away participating in a sport that they both undoubtedly loved.”

Finance Minister Michael McGrath, who is a Cork TD, and Cork County Mayor Frank O’Flynn have said the circumstances that led to the deaths need to be examined.

The spokesperson continued: “Water Safety Ireland as an organisation would not have had a role in the preparation or planning for this event, but does provide general guidance for the organisers of aquatic events upon request and on our website.

“We would remind all water users, including the organisers of any events, to ensure that detailed planning and proactive risk assessments and management are in place to ensure that all remain safe in and around the water.

“Regarding the specifics of this Ironman event, Water Safety Ireland cannot comment until all required investigations by the relevant authorities are completed.

“WSI will be looking to incorporate any and all learnings into our overall guidance and education efforts with the sincere hope that a tragedy like this will not recur.

The Ironman Group said yesterday that, following the safety protocol checks on Sunday morning, it was decided it was safe for the swim portion of the event to go ahead.

“Due to the prevailing weather conditions, a decision was made, however, to shorten the distance of the swim as a further precaution to ensure that the significant water safety assets – such as kayaks, lifeguards and medical boats – could be concentrated over a smaller area while also allowing swimmers the ability to swim with the help of a more favourable current and incoming tide after the first 100m.

“Our thoughts continue to be with the family and friends of the two athletes who passed. We are providing ongoing assistance to their families and we will continue to offer them our support as they go through this very difficult time.”