57 sportsman got sick after "sh*t swim" at World Triathlon Championships in England
At least 57 people have fallen ill with nausea and diarrhea after taking part in a sea swimming event at the World Triathlon Championships in Sunderland, Guardian reports. Around 2,000 people took part in events last weekend, including the swim off Roker Beach.
The UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) said it will test samples from patients to determine the cause of the illness and any common pathogens. Sampling at Roker Beach on Wednesday, July 26, three days before the event, showed 3,900 colonies of E. coli per 100 ml, more than 39 times the typical rate in the previous month.
E coli is a bacterial infection that can cause abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. British Triathlon, the governing body for triathlon in the UK, said the tests were taken before the event and sampling was done outside the area where the swimmers were.
The company said its test results met the necessary standards for the event.
The event was held in an area of the coastline that has been at the center of a long-running battle over sewage discharges between activists and government regulatory breaches.
Northumbrian Water insisted it was not to blame for the illnesses and that it had not recorded any discharges that could have affected water quality at Roker Beach since October 2021.
28-year-old Australian triathlete Jacob Birtwistle posted the Environmental Protection Agency's findings on Instagram and said he felt ill after the race.
He wrote, "I felt pretty crappy after the race, but I guess that's what happens when you swim in sh*t. It should have been canceled."
One athlete responded, "At least I know what happened to me and other athletes who got sick."
Another admitted that "That explains why I spent Monday night with my head in the toilet after racing!"
51-year-old Ailith Eve Harley-Roberts from Leeds, who competed in the standard category with the 1500m sea swim, said she was not ill but her fellow competitors had upset stomachs.
She said, "I like swimming outdoors but I am not sure about the cleanliness of seas, rivers and lakes because of sewage and other effluent discharges."
The Sunderland triathlon event was the British leg of the World Triathlon Championships series and was part of the qualification window for the 2024 Paris Olympics. There were also races of various distances, including family ones. Sunderland hosted the British leg of the series for the first time.