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Triathlon organizers focus on safety for upcoming race after 3 deaths in Wisconsin

VERONA (WKOW) — Three deaths during triathlons in the Madison area have race organizers reinforcing safety measures.

The group that organized the Lake Mills triathlon, where Dr. Scott Beatse had a medical emergency and passed away after the swim on June 2, has another event coming up next weekend.

Triterium Triathlon will be at Fireman’s Park in Verona on June 22. The race has a been a fixture for years, but this time around organizers are focusing on safety more than ever.

Race Director Lucas Molloy tells 27 News lifeguards will keep a close eye on the swimmers, knowing when to respond if someone is in distress. His team is making sure to retrain them as needed.

“They’ll be managing and facilitating all of the lifeguards that we have on staff that day, making sure that [the athletes] are properly spaced in the water as well as on the beach to make sure we can jump in and act quickly,” he said.

They look for signs of a struggle and ask if the swimmers need any help.

Fitch-Rona EMS staff members will also be on site to monitor and respond as needed.

EMS Chief Patrick Anderson says communication is key. “We coordinate that with that one person who can guide us to where we need to be,” he said.

And Anderson is using is own experience in guiding his staff. He competed in the Lake Mills race, his first triathlon. He said hearing of Beatse’s death was eye-opening to know there is always a risk.

Anderson says the swim can be one of the biggest challenges.

“I had my moments of awareness in the water of, I was tired and I was hurting and you can’t just stop,” he told 27 News. “It was a brief moment and it comes back to you. I gotta flip over, I’m going to float. I’m in a wet suit. You know, take that moment get that realization of, it’s going to be okay.”

Experts say athletes should always know their limitations and not be afraid to ask for help if they don’t feel right.

There will also be more road closures in the area of the Triterium Triathlon to keep the 600 athletes safe when running and biking, in addition to the volunteers, EMS staff and lifeguards monitoring the course.

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

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