Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Keen Athlete Drowns While Swimming in First Triathlon; Partner Wanted to Stop Her Taking Part after She Was Hurt on Ski Trip

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Keen Athlete Drowns While Swimming in First Triathlon; Partner Wanted to Stop Her Taking Part after She Was Hurt on Ski Trip

Article excerpt

Byline: Ben Morgan

A "VERY fit and robust" amateur athlete drowned during her first triathlon despite the frantic efforts of a friend to revive her.

Diane Thomas, 57, was taking part in the Praia da Luz triathlon in Portugal on April 25 last year when she got into difficulty during a 750m swimming event.

The NHS manager's friend and fellow participant Sian Griffiths tried to resuscitate her "for 20 minutes" but she was pronounced dead in hospital later that day.

An inquest at St Pancras coroners' court heard how Ms Griffiths, a former London firefighter, gave first aid until an ambulance came.

She said: "We were on our way back to shore and it was only when we were swimming that she said she was finding it difficult.

"She was swimming next to me, she turned on her back and that was it. Her pupils were dilated because her eyes got very wide."

Ms Griffiths, who worked for the London Fire Brigade for more than three decades, had qualified as a lifeguard the February before the tragedy. She said she signalled to support boats from the water after realising her friend had lost consciousness.

She managed to get Ms Thomas onto a dinghy where she carried out CPR. Once they reached the shore, she continued trying to revive her with the help of their friend Nigel Kirk until the ambulance arrived.

Ms Thomas was taken to a hospital about 20 miles away, where she was pronounced dead a short time later.

Several witnesses gave statements to Portuguese investigators which Ms Griffiths claimed were "inaccurate" and contradictory. The inquest this week heard how Ms Thomas, from Willesden, had travelled to Portugal with Ms Griffiths, Mr Kirk and another friend two days before the event.

They were all strong swimmers, cyclists and athletes. It was Ms Thomas's first triathlon but the mother of two regularly swam longer distances and was described by the coroner as "very fit" and "robust". …

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