Monday, August 31, 2009

Marauding marine mammal chews up triathlete

Forget about bears and cougars — animal attacks just keep getting odd-er.

A 49-year-old triathlete in this mountain town about 275 km west of Calgary was training in an area lake for an upcoming Ironman competition when he had the surprise of his life — an angry otter viciously attacking his leg about a dozen times.

“I was scared,” said Sanford Schmid of the unusual Aug. 22 incident in Lake Lillian, about 5 km from Invermere.

“At the time I didn’t know what it was hitting me and the fact I was out there in the water, helpless, while it was attacking me – it was freaky!”

Decked out in black wetsuits, goggles and black swim caps, Schmid and wife Mary-Janne had just begun swimming a 1,500-metre lap when the furry attack from the depths happened.

Schmid was facedown in the water about 250 metres from shore, when he felt something hit his foot.

“It was like a thud,” he said.

“It just felt like someone was pulling on my foot, like something was going to grab me.”

Thinking he had accidentally kicked a floating log, Sanford continued swimming. Then to his surprise, he felt another thud and turned over on his back to see what was hitting him.

“I saw something come towards me in the water and I started kicking hard,” he said. “I didn’t want whatever it was to bite me. I thought ‘the more I can move around, the less chance of it grabbing me.’”

Panicked, Schmid headed for a small wooden dock 25 metres away. He began to kick harder, but the otter continued its attacks...

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