A doctor writing for the Washington Post reviewed recent deaths of triathlon participants and concluded that panic attacks were more likely to be the killer than heart attacks.
It's not likely to be the kind of reflecting that most area triathletes would like to do at the end of their season in the Midwest. David Brown's reporting, though, provides a thorough analysis of the dangers in the water and what caused at least nine people to die during races during the summer.
He subtly disagrees with the predominant findings - various forms of heart disease - and reaches his own conclusion: "My hypothesis is these athletes suffer panic attacks, a state characterized by a racing heart, sensation of breathlessness or choking, and a feeling of lost control."
Brown relates his own experience in the early stages of the swim leg of a triathlon.
"Fifty or 60 of us, all wearing identical swim caps whose color denoted the age and sex of our starting group, began to swim," he wrote. "We collided and had our faces bumped and kicked as we made our way into open water. Within a few minutes my heart was racing, I was breathing fast and I was scared to death, although I wasn’t exactly sure why.
"I rolled onto my back to calm down and let the pack move on. As I sculled slowly, I looked to the shore. Two men were climbing out on all fours."
On the run or bike leg, a panicking athlete has the easy solution of stopping. In the water, that can be fatal.