PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 10, swimmers during the Ironman South Africa competition at Hobie Beach on April 10, 2011 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Photo by Richard Huggard / Gallo Images

Johannesburg – Two athletes have died in the Ironman endurance race in East London, police disaster management said on Sunday.

“The swimmers took to the waters on Orient Beach at 7.30am. When they were 1000 metres into the sea, they experienced difficulty and were rescued by the rescue team,” said spokesman John Fobian.

The two athletes were taken to the medical tents for resuscitation before being transferred to the St Dominic's Hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

“We can't say what was the cause of death and we would not like to speculate. We will wait for the post mortem results,” said Fobian.

Police had opened an inquest docket.

The endurance race consists of a 1.9km swim, a 90km road cycling and a marathon. – Sapa