Two men who died in Ironman event in Cork named locally

Brendan Wall and Ivan Chittenden got into trouble while swimming

The two men who died in the Ironman Ireland event in Youghal, Co Cork have been named locally as a Garda investigation begins.

The competitors have been named as Brendan Wall, who was in his mid-40s and originally from Co Meath but was living in Solihull in the UK, and Ivan Chittenden (64), who travelled from his home in Toronto, Canada to take part.

It is understood that the men separately got into difficulties while swimming. They were removed from the water and pronounced dead by medical personnel.

Gardaí were present in the control room of the Ironman event all day and were at the scene of the tragedy.

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Gardaí will now prepare files for the coroner’s court but there is no suggestion that the incidents are being treated as a criminal matter.

Postmortems will take place on the two men at Cork University Hospital today.

One competitor, who declined to be named, said that he heard fellow participants shouting for help from the water. He said he didn’t realise the extent of the tragedy until he completed the event.

Organisers had earlier advised participants of a change to the distance due to conditions at the start of the race.

The half triathlon event had to be postponed on Saturday in the aftermath of Storm Betty. It was rescheduled for today along with the main Ironman event.

Stephen Lynch from Bandon in West Cork took part in the full Ironman event and found out about the fatalities afterwards.

“When you are in the race you don’t realise [anything is happening]. It could have been anybody. I suppose it was challenging going out [at the start of the swim]. It was okay the rest of the way.

“The swim started here [on the beach]. The tide was in and [we] went out at an angle to an orange buoy so we were facing the waves. So that was a difficult part. It is hard for the people organising it too. ”

Mr Lynch was competing in his second Ironman event. Hesaid it was a “challenging” day.

“What happened to those men is desperately sad. There was a guy telling me that they were at an event like this in Lanzarote and it happened over there. The water can be unforgiving.”

Irish couple Aoife and Nigel Travers, who are from Castleknock in Dublin but based in Perth, participated in the event. Nigel said that when deaths occur in Ironman events “it is usually in the swim”.

He said that he knew of a person dying in an Ironman event in France a couple of weeks ago and he believed there was a fatality at a similar event in Germany.

The swimmers were among several thousand competitors who entered the water at Claycastle Beach. Some were competing in the 113.13km half triathlon whilst others were taking part in the full 226.3km race. About 3,000 athletes have been competing across the Ironman 70.3 Ireland, Cork and full distance Ironman Ireland races.

In a statement, the organisers of the Ironman event said that they “were deeply saddened to confirm the death of two participants”.

“During the swim portion of Sunday’s race, safety personnel provided immediate medical attention upon recognising the athletes were in need of assistance. We share our greatest sympathies with the family and friends of the athletes and will continue to offer them our support as they go through this very difficult time.”

Cork County Council also offered its condolences following the “tragic loss” of the two participants. The council expressed gratitude to the response agencies involved.