LOWER TOWNSHIP — A man at least 70 years old has died while competing in the annual Open Water Classic Sunday morning.

The victim was near the end of the 3-mile race around 8:30 a.m. when he started to struggle, according to event organizer DelMo Sports and the Delaware River & Bay Authority.

Lifeguards spotted the man in distress and went out to attempt a rescue. They brought him back to the beach near David Douglass Sr. Memorial Park.

Despite the efforts of emergency medical services, the man could not be resuscitated. He was taken in an ambulance to the Cape Regional Medical Center.

The victim has not yet been identified, but a statement from DelMo Sports and the DRBA confirmed that he was from Wilmington, Delaware.

The Open Water Classic, part of the Escape the Cape Triathlon, starts with swimmers jumping off the Cape May-Lewes Ferry.

"Proper safety precautions were followed," DRBA spokesperson James Salmon said. He added that the health and safety of athletes was the "foremost priority."

DelMo Sports CEO Stephen DelMonte said he was "heartbroken."

“DelMoSports and USA Triathlon lost a member of its beloved community, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends," DelMonte said.

Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at richard.rickman@townsquaremedia.com

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