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Newton man dies after medical emergency in Hopkinton triathlon

A 40-year-old Newton man died after suffering a medical emergency while swimming in a triathlon in Hopkinton State Park Saturday morning, according to a state official.

The man, whom authorities did not name, was unresponsive when Worcester YMCA lifeguards pulled him from the Hopkinton Reservoir at about 9:38 a.m., Katie Gronendyke, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

The man was pulled aboard an Environmental Police patrol boat, where he received CPR on the way to the shore, Gronendyke said in an e-mail. He was taken to a local hospital where he was declared dead.

His cause of death will be determined by the state medical examiner’s officer, she said.


In a statement e-mailed to the Globe, the triathlon organizers, Waltham-based Max Performance, acknowledged that an athlete had a “medical emergency” and said the company was “committed to supporting the family during this difficult time, as well as members of the multisport community impacted by this tragedy.”

Jimmy Peirce, 46, said he was most of the way through the quarter-mile swim, the first leg of the triathlon, when he noticed the swimmer next to him calling for help.

“Just before the final yellow buoy and on my left about 15 yards, a swimmer was calling for help by raising his arms and yelling,” Peirce said in a Facebook message to a Globe reporter. They were at the back of the first wave of swimmers, and the 59-degree water was not too crowded, he said.

“It was clear it was serious. Most swimmers who are tired can hold onto a kayak for rest but the way this swimmer was requesting help, I knew the other swimmer was in serious trouble,” said Peirce, who is from Chelmsford.

A lifeguard paddled a kayak over to the man in 10 or 15 seconds and a rescue boat arrived moments later, he said. “I remember thinking how impressive it was that the race organizers had everyone in position for a lightning quick response.”


Peirce said the thought of the swimmer in distress stayed in the back of his mind as he finished the race.

“If anything, it is a reminder of all of our mortality and just how precious every moment is,” he said. “It won’t slow me down but it does make me appreciate all the other athletes that train and compete regularly despite the dangers.

“The one addicting thing about triathlons is the support and respect all triathletes have for one another, no matter how fast or slow you are. This tragedy won’t go unnoticed and I’m sure it will only strengthen the bonds of support and respect that every triathlete has for each other.”

Lucas Phillips can be reached at lucas.phillips@globe.com.