Ivan Chittenden was in the "best shape of his life" in the lead-up to the tragic Ironman race in Youghal, his friend and coach has told Lunchtime Live.
The Canadian was one of two men to die while taking part in the County Cork event earlier this month.
Following the tragic deaths, Triathlon Ireland said its officials did not sanction the race because of adverse conditions.
However, Ironman Ireland released a statement which said that was not communicated to on-site officials until "several hours after the swim was completed" – a claim Triathlon Ireland has since refuted.
Brendan Wall, a 44-year-old from Meath who was living in the UK also died while competing in the swimming section of the race.
Speaking to Lunchtime Live, Mr Chittenden's coach Lisa Bentley said the athlete had been "celebrating" that he was in the "best shape of his life" in the leadup to the event.
"He got better every single year," she said.
"Normally we decline as we get older, but not Ivan – he was becoming more of a proficient swimmer, biker and runner every year."
Ms Bentley said it was approximately 5:30am in Canada when she received a call from Mr Chittenden's wife, who told her what had occurred during the race.
"I just asked her, 'Please tell me Ivan's okay' and of course she wasn't able to do that," she said.
"It was an incredible shock ... I understood what she was telling me, although I did have to have her tell me a few times that he wasn't even in the hospital or in ICU [and] that I wouldn't see Ivan again."
Ms Bentley said she went on a bike ride but was overcome by shock as the journey went on.
"I was probably 30 minutes from home on my bike, on a country road ... I almost felt paralysed," she said.
"The rest of the day, there was no brave face anymore."
Ms Bentley said Mr Chittenden had been "very excited" when he landed in Ireland.
"His wife couldn't come to the race, but her whole family lives in Ireland," she said.
"It allowed him to really do what he loved – sport – but also surrounded by people that he also loved, so that's why he chose the race.
"It's certainly bittersweet, but he really loved the sport."
Ms Bentley said she did not want to speculate on the weather conditions at Front Strand Beach on the day of the event, but as a former professional triathlete, she had experienced cancelled swims several times.
"It's not an anomaly to cancel the swim because we are in a mass participation sport," she said.
"You must take a look at those conditions, whether it be swim, biking or running and picture a beginner athlete out there – Ivan was not a beginner, so, this has nothing to do with the level of competence.
"But, you really do have to consider your weakest athlete when you pull the cannon in a race start."
Ms Bentley said she is trying to "cling on to the good bits" as she grieves the loss of her friend.
"There hasn't been a day go by that my husband and I haven't thought about Ivan," she said.
"I really just want to think about his smiling face and the person that he was, which was just a really even-keeled, kind gentleman who really was kind to everyone."
Ms Bentley extended her gratitude to the "beautiful people of Ireland" who "opened their hearts" to Mr Chittenden's grieving family and friends.
"Thank you to all the people in Ireland who have been nothing but supportive and fully loving," she said.
Mr Chittenden is due to be cremated in Ireland before his remains are returned to Canada.
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