My Problem Here Is With "The Noodle"

I recently read an article / post titled Dangers of Triathlon Competition: Tips to Increasing Your Personal Safety.  I have to admit I found this article really, really, annoying.

I know, opinions are like....well, you know...everyone has one.  And I'm not ranting here as a triathlete who's taken offense to someone criticizing the sport.  I'm annoyed because a number of the statements made are just so off the mark.

The main point of the article states that the swim leg of the triathlon is the most dangerous of the three, and that while training for a triathlon is a great way to get in shape and improve your cardiovascular health, the sport has a higher death rate than one might expect - mostly attributed to the swim leg.

I'm not going to go into all the details here, so you might want to give the article a read but as I said, some of the points made - allegedly to show how dangerous a triathlon can be - have almost nothing to do with the sport itself.  Some of the "widely known" deaths in triathlon races include:

* A man who died of a stroke, followed by a heart attack, during the swim leg.

* A man who died of cardiac issues during the swim leg.  He had recently lost 100 lbs, and was down to 300 lbs (from 400 lbs).  He was competing in his first triathlon and was unable to reach support before his heart gave out.

* A woman died near the end of the swim leg - complaining of chest pain.  An autopsy showed she swallowed too much water during her swim.

* A man was bit by a great white shark during a triathlon.

Is it just me, or are some of the deaths outlined simply the result of being in the ocean in general (ie. the shark bite), while others are examples of individuals who weren't strong swimmers - or weren't physically prepared - and perhaps shouldn't have been competing in the first place?

What really got me, however, were some of the suggestions provided to ensure that you don't become a statistic of the dangerous world of triathlons.  Granted, some were good:

"..confer with your primary care physician or sports medicine professional before entering triathlon competition..."

And some were just, well, you'll see what I mean:

"Some races allow less strong swimmers to use noodles.  It may not seem sporty, but it's better than drowning."

Wait.  Hold on......a noodle?  Really?  Then you can't swim!  Perhaps you should sign up for a duathlon.

Sorry, that last line was a little snarky.  But seriously, if you - even for a moment - think that you need a flotation device to get through the swim leg of a triathlon you shouldn't be anywhere near the water before a mass start is about to go off.

In summary:  If you can't swim, don't do a triathlon.

Additionally:   If you don't have your doctors approval, when you really should, don't do a triathlon (or any other sport for that matter).

Okay, I'm off my soap-box.  (Really?  A noodle?)