A county Meath competitor who took part in the Youghal Ironman race that saw two men die during the swimming section has claimed that the race should never have taken place as conditions in the sea were far too treacherous.
Brendan Wall, 44, who was originally from Slane in but had been living in the UK in recent years, was one of two men who died during the 1.7km swimming section of the triathlon in Youghal, Co Cork on Sunday morning.
Canadian native Ivan Chittendon (65) from Toronto also died in a horror medical emergency during the swimming event.
Now a competitor who has been doing Ironman events since 2014 has revealed that those taking part were stunned at the decision to allow the swim to take place.
The athlete who didn’t want to be named, said, “ For a start we were left waiting almost an hour before the organisers decided to go ahead with it and the fact that it took them that long to make a decision tells you just how bad the weather was.
‘We were meant to go in the water at 6.30am and it was 7.20 am when we were starting the swim, when we were waiting the general feeling in the group I was with was they can’t do this it is way too dangerous.
‘I would consider myself a strong swimmer but I couldn’t get any consistency in my stoke at all as the waves were crashing over my head, to be honest if I didn’t think of myself as a strong swimmer I would have pulled out of the thing altogether.
‘It was just wild and was getting worse all the time.
‘I don’t scare easily, I have swum in shark infested waters and I wasn’t as fearful as I was on Sunday.
‘I was halfway round the bike course when I heard people had passed away and I had really mixed emotions, I was sad for them and was also thinking it could have been me.
‘If I met the organisers now I would tell them they should have cancelled the swim and that is not in hindsight it is how most of us felt at the time and sadly our gut feeling was right.’
Meath Live spoke with another competitor who completed the event at Youghal in county Cork. Again he spoke to under anonymity. He was a competent and strong swimmer. He too admitted there was an element of confusion and even when the swim started it was a real struggle. A lot of the guys were really struggling, you couldn’t see the buoy’s when you were actually out there in the sea and the tide was strong the waves were high ,it wasn’t easy.
‘I did complete the event it’ he says’ it was a tough 13 hours of endurance but I enjoy the Ironman events all over the world. There is such adrenaline rush and sense of achievement but nobody want to see what happened at the weekend.
‘ I am from Meath too and I feel so sorry for the lads.
‘Obviously there is going to be a lot of questions to be answered. We will have to wait what the outcome is and see he pointed out but his love for the sport is undiminished. He will continue with the Ironman events all over the world.
Meanwhile in a statement issued by Meath east TD, Thomas Byrne has asked Sports Ireland to liaise with Triathlon Ireland in relation to the events and to provide any suitable support that may be required by the national governing body.
He expressed his condolences to families who lost loved ones but also added we need to allow the relevant authorities the time to conduct their investigations to find the answers as to how these tragic events occurred.