Man suffers heart attack while participating in triathlon

A 70-year-old man suffered a heart attack while participating in the Christmas Sprint Triathlon Sunday at Sugden Regional Park.

Witnesses say bystanders jumped in to perform CPR while waiting for the paramedicsĀ  to arrive.

“When I was finished with the bike part, I was 20 minutes in, I came back to the park and I saw some ambulances leave,” said triathlon participant Laurie Rose.

Witnesses say he was swimming in the open lake when the attack happened. Greater Naples Fire Rescue said another swimmer saw him in distress and pulled him ashore. Paramedics met the swimmer by the water and started performing CPR.

“The swim is something we all stress over,” Rose said.

Physical therapist Talayna Fortunato said there is a lot of different factors that could have contributed to a heart attack.

“It’s different hopping into open water as opposed to a pool where people are gonna be kicking you in the face, then it is to be on your own at a pool,” Fortunato said. “You feel claustrophobic, people are hitting you, kicking you.”

Rose and Fortunato agree that there is an inherent risk with any competitive sport, but it shouldn’t hold anyone back.

“There’s a risk in anything you do, I think the rewards outweigh the risks when it comes to triathlons,” Rose said.

Greater Naples Fire Rescue said medics stayed with the man administering CPR all the way to NCH Hospital.

Reporter:Olivia Mancino
Writer:Emily Ford