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Tuesday, September 19
Divers on Games shark patrol

SYDNEY, Australia -- Divers equipped with electrical impulse devices patrolled the waters of Sydney Harbour to ward off sharks when Olympic triathletes took their first pre-Games dip on Sunday.

No sharks were spotted, however, as some 70 athletes, two-thirds of the combined Olympic men's and women's triathlon entries, swam for 20 minutes around Farm Cove in the shadow of the city's famous Opera House.

"Sharks are not an issue," competition manager David Hansen said.

"Only a few international athletes said they were concerned about a possible attack so we've brought in the divers to put their minds at rest. The feedback I had from the athletes today was very positive." The divers used electrical devices that emit low frequency signals.

American triathlete Nick Radkewich said concern about sharks was a recent development.

"We've been racing here for a couple of years and this is the first we're hearing about it. NBC, I think, is providing the sharks," he joked about the U.S. television network broadcasting the Games.

"I'm thinking about 51 other competitors. We're all dressed like seals in our wet suits. If one of them is hungry, they'll get one of us. I'll be playing the odds."

The top-ranked U.S. triathlete, the tall, slender Hunter Kemper, said: "I'll take my chances, one in 51.

"I like those odds. If one of them bites my leg, they'll be like, 'no, this guy's not beefy enough' and move on."

Both agreed that a more serious concern in the triathlon's Olympic debut is the frigid water of Sydney Harbour, which is just 59 degrees this time of year. When water temperatures are below 68 degrees, triathletes are allowed to use wet suits during the swim.

"Fifteen degrees is pretty cold. When you come out your hands are going to be cold, your feet are going to be cold," Radkewich said.

"Most of the time you start off with your bike shoes already locked into the pedals on your bike. You run on to the transition area, jump on your bike and start to pedal, putting your feet into your shoes. It's a lot more difficult when you can't feel your feet.

Most athletes also cycled for an hour and ran for 30 to 40 minutes in preparation for the women's race on Saturday and the men's the following day.

Olympic triathletes must swim 1,500 meters round the cove, cycle 40 kilometers and then run 10 kilometers through central Sydney to the finish line at the Opera House.

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