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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Alamy Stock Photo Youghal, Co Cork

Two Ironman participants die during swim in Co Cork

It’s understood the two competitors died in separate medical incidents during the event.

LAST UPDATE | Aug 20th 2023, 6:02 PM

TWO PARTICIPANTS FROM overseas have died in separate incidents this morning during the Ironman competition in Youghal, Co Cork.

One of the men who died is Irish but had been living in the UK whilst the other is a native of Canada.

One of the men is in his sixties whilst the other is in his forties. The men had been taking part in the 1.7km  swim portion of the event when they got in to difficulties.

Both men were removed from the water by emergency services and were pronounced dead by medical personnel. 

The swimmers were among several thousand competitors who entered the water at the Front Strand in Youghal.

Some were competing in the 70.3 mile half triathlon whilst others were taking part in the full 226.3 km full race.

The 70.3 mile event had to be postponed yesterday (Sat) in the aftermath of Storm Betty.

It was rescheduled for today along with the main Ironman event. Both men were pronounced dead at the scene.

The event is continuing.

In a statement the organisers for Ironman said that they “were deeply saddened to confirm the death of two participants.”

“During the swim portion of Sunday’s race, safety personnel provided immediate medical attention upon recognising the athletes were in need of assistance.

“We share our greatest sympathies with the family and friends of the athletes and will continue to offer them our support as they go through this very difficult time.”

The Office of the State Pathologist has been informed and postmortem examinations are expected to be carried out tomorrow.

The deaths are being linked to possible medical episodes.

Around 3,000 athletes have been competing across the Ironman 70.3 Ireland, Cork and full distance Ironman Ireland races.

50 percent of the full distance athletes and 75 percent of the Ironman 70.3 athletes come from Ireland. The remainder of athletes hail from countries such as the US, Germany and France. 

Cllr Sinead Sheppard of Fine Gael was in Youghal to cheer on her husband Eamonn who was taking part in the sporting event. 

She said that she heard of the separate deaths of the men half way through the day. 

“It’s just so sad because no one ever thinks it is going to be them. You are holding your family a little bit tighter. The swim was well over and we were in the cycle section when the news just got around.”

“Everybody is absolutely shocked.Thousands of people come out for an event like this. The atmosphere is normally so joyful. It is a bit quieter now. People are celebrating but at the back of your mind you are thinking somebody has lost their lives.”

Cllr Sheppard, who hails from Cobh, said that most people who completed the event had mixed feelings about how to celebrate once the news of the deaths came through.

“There are other families here that thought they were going to be celebrating and now there is tragedy. I can’t even believe it.”

“We are thinking of them. The atmosphere is a little bit flat because everyone is thinking that it could have been their families in the water.” 

Cork County Council issued a statement saying that its staff’s deepest sympathies went out to the families and friends of the athletes.

“Our thoughts are with those who have been affected, and we are currently offering every assistance required to the IRONMAN GROUP and all those impacted.

“We wish to express our gratitude to the response agencies involved, including our dedicated Fire and Emergency personnel, for their unwavering efforts during this this difficult time.”

Olivia Kelleher