Outside magazine, August 1996
Some triathletes will do anything to qualify for Hawaii's Ironman-but unfortunately, this seems to include plunging into water choked with fecal coliform bacteria and gut-twisting pathogens like Giardia lamblia. Indeed, it is these components of raw sewage that await the competitors in this month's Fairmount Park Classic, the swim portion of which will be held in Philadelphia's less-than-sparkling Schuylkill River. Despite assurances from race organizers that the water is "fine," experts are cringing. "I'd never let anybody I know swim there," insists Cindy Rettig, a biologist with the Philadelphia Water Department. Nonetheless, Fairmount veterans seem unfazed. "I've done that race four times," says two-time Ironman finisher Troy Jacobson, "and I have yet to get sick."