Jeffrey Yuen Chi-yuen, 42, of Hong Kong, was reported missing by his wife after he failed to appear following the 1.5 kilometer swimming leg of the Port Dickson International Triathlon, local media reported. Tharm Wei Wong, 39, of Penang, Malaysia, also drowned during the race.
Port Dickson Deputy Police Chief Mohd Faisal Mohd Noor told Malaysian news outlet Siakap Keli that Wong had been treated by emergency responders and given CPR, but that he had never responded. Wong was pronounced dead later at a local hospital.
A committee will be set up to investigate the death, said Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, Malaysia's youth and sports minister.
"The committee will look into, among others, if there was any breach of conditions or laws," he told reporters, local media outlet Bernama reported.
The race was scheduled to begin shortly after 7 a.m. local time, according to the South China Morning Post, which noted that local media had reported very rough seas at the race's start. Yuen was reported missing to organizers at 11:55 a.m, Sembilan Fire and Rescue Director Norazam Khamis said, local media report. "After receiving [the report] we have moved the search and rescue team," he told Siakap Keli. "So far the Water Rescue Team (PPDA), the Marine Police, the Malaysian Civil Defense Force (APM) and the Port Dickson Municipal Council (MPPD) are ready to seek and rescue."
Friends of Yuen's appear to have reached out on social media for help in finding him. "My friend, Jeffrey Yuen, who was wearing Garmin watch when he got lost in playing Triathlon Malaysia in this morning. Grateful if you could locate him. Urgent. Thanks," a Twitter user by the name Paul Ho tweeted at watchmaker Garmin this morning.
The search for Yuen now includes 20 rescue personnel and covers a distance of 5 km, local media report. Local fisherman have been called into duty to help rescuers.
An Olympic distance triathlon is a swim of 1.5 km, a 40 km bike ride and a 10 km run. The entire course takes several hours to finish.
Triathlon deaths are not rare: a study by the US National Registry of Sudden Death in Athletes concluded in September 2017 found that deaths or heart attacks struck 1.74 out of every 100,000 triathlon participants. The study looked at 9 million participants over 30 years. Researchers found 107 cases of race-related sudden death, 13 times athletes suffered cardiac arrests and were resuscitated and 15 deaths by trauma, Triathlete.com reported. The study used a larger sample than any previous such research.
The Port Dickson race was sold out. The town is on Malaysia's west coast, south of Kuala Lumpur.