Ironman 70.3 Special: Safety in the Water

Q&A with Randy Salazar

What are the common water emergencies do you encounter?

Noteworthy to mention are Makoy Almanzor and Buzzy Budlong who are key technical people for this event. I am part of the water section because of my background in safety and rescue, and my passion for paddling. Common water emergencies we have encountered are exhaustion, cramps, near drowning, swimmers being kicked or hit by other swimmers and occasional Jellyfish stings.

How can you manage panic attacks on athletes at the swim phase of the race?

Swimmer's caps are color coded, based on the competitors self assessment of their own swimming capabilities. Marshals are especially on the lookout for the white caps who signify that they are not that confident in the water. Safety marshals and rescue personnel are strategically positioned on Stand Up Paddle Boards, Kayaks, Jetskis, rubber boats and outrigger bancas to look afterthe swimmers. There are rescue divers underneath as well. The presence of these personnel helps in the mental aspect of the swim section for the competitors. Buoys act are placed the length of the course which the swimmers can hold on to to rest. Resting platforms are strategically placed as well. In an event of a panic attack or a water emergencies, the water marshals will come in and rescue the swimmer, but will result to a DNF for that competitor.

How do you manage jellyfish encounters specially at the venue which is a breeding ground for it?

Vinegar is a good first aid for Jelly fish stings.

How can the marshals help the athletes who felt cramps or worse, lose their goggles while in the water?

Marshals will always check first if the swimmer is able to continue before intervening. Swimmers having mild cramps can hang on to the bouys to rest. in case of severe cramps, a rescue will be done. There is possibility of losing ones goggles or stuff in the water, Interventions are kept to a minimum not unless really needed (emergencies) since disqualification of the racer can result to that intervention.

What are the other precautionary measures have you cascaded to your team in case of worst case scenarios?

Safety marshals do a series of paddle and rescue clinics to prepare for all possible water emergency scenarios and how to rescue in those situations. A detailed safety briefing where positioning, signal and communicationof personnel is conducted prior to the race to ensure understanding of the Ironman rules and guidelines.

What advise can you give the athletes to prevent injury?

It is called the Ironman for a reason. Train and prepare well, and know your body's limitation. Good luck to all participants of the Ironman 70.3, Be Safe!

Eulalio Conrado "Randy" Salazar is a water safety marshal for the Ironman 70.3 Philippines in Cebu.