Deaths in open water swimming races in Brazil from 2009 to 2019

Fabrizio DI Masi, Gabriel Costa E Silva, Danielli Braga DE Mello, David Szpilman, Mike Tipton

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Since the inclusion in the Olympic Games (2008), open swimming races have attracted greater media attention and, therefore, have a greater number of practitioners, especially in Brazil, an extremely favorable country for this sport. However, increasing reports of fatal incidents in open water races brought the medical and scientific community to attention. The aim of this study was to review the characteristics of deaths in open waters events in Brazil from 2009 to 2019. The survey was divided into 3 steps: 1) contacting sports-related federations and companies, including swimming and triathlon federations, master associations and event organizing companies; 2) internet search; and 3) personal communication with athletes, coaches, organizers, and health personnel. A total of 12 deaths were observed in open water swimming races, including triathlon swimming segment races in Brazil from 2009 to 2019. The average was 1.1 deaths per year, whereas in the last 3 years (2017-2019) the average was 3 deaths per year. The male participants accounted for 11 deaths (91.7%), the average age was 47 years old, experienced athletes were more affected (80%), and incidents occurred mainly in ocean waters (75%). The increase of deaths in the last 3 years draws attention, and the best way to reduce the deaths by drowning in open waters in Brazil, is to understand the profile and causes, to propose solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1295-1305
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Exercise Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022


  • Drowning
  • water sports
  • athletic performance
  • accident prevention

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