NEW YORK -- One person died and another was in critical condition after they had trouble during the swimming portion of the Nautica New York City Triathlon.
New York City police said 64-year-old Michael Kudryk of Freehold, N.J., was pulled out of the Hudson River unconscious near 79th Street at 7:45 a.m. Sunday and was believed to have suffered a heart attack. He was taken to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
A 40-year-old woman from Elmhurst, Ill., also was taken to St. Luke's in critical condition with heart attack symptoms, police said. Her name was not immediately available.
Police said 26 others were removed from the water needing assistance for minor injuries or pains throughout the swim, which was the first portion of the triathlon. Race director Bill Burke said there were more than 3,000 participants this year.
Burke said the thoughts and prayers of the triathlon community were with the athletes and their families.
The police said there was no indication of a link to a sewage spill into the Hudson last month. The river was closed for recreational use temporarily due to health concerns but has since re-opened.
Participants in the yearly race swim about a mile, bike 25 miles and run 6 miles. They attend a mandatory briefing before the race that includes information about training and staying hydrated. Burke said it was not uncommon for some people to struggle with over-exertion. He said he most commonly sees heat-related problems like fatigue and dehydration. But he said weather conditions on Sunday were optimal, with relatively mild temperatures and good cloud cover for much of the day.
"It's a tragedy that this happened today," he said. "My heart goes out to ... (Kudryk's) family."
A woman who answered the phone at Kudryk's home declined to comment.
During the same triathlon three years ago, a 32-year-old competitor from Argentina was pulled from the water unconscious near the same location. Esteban Neira died after the rescue. The medical examiner ruled that he died from hypertensive cardiovascular disease, a condition linked to high blood pressure. Race organizers said he was apparently unaware he had the condition.
Triathlons have grown in popularity. Sunday marked the 11th New York Triathlon. The first year, 683 people signed up. By 2010, organizers had to create a lottery for entry due to overwhelming demand, they said in a statement. This year, there were entrants from 43 states and 26 countries. Registration for this year's race was held in 2009 and filled up in six minutes, they said.