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Simon Whitfield In 'Distress' Is Just Paddle Boarding In Storm

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Simon Whitfield posted this selfie while paddle boarding near Victoria.
Simon Whitfield posted this selfie while paddle boarding near Victoria.

B.C. search and rescue crews called out to help a paddle boarder in gale-force winds instead found Olympic medallist triathlete Simon Whitfield "having a blast in the swells."

On Monday afternoon, a concerned citizen had called the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue in the Victoria area about a stand-up paddle boarder in possible distress, according to the group on its Facebook page.

When the crews arrived in the Enterprise Channel off Oak Bay shores they found Whitfield in a drysuit "in no difficulty at all" and "comfortable in the heavy weather on his paddle board."

Whitfield, 38, told the Victoria Times-Colonist he was "too busy playing in the waves and listening to my audiobook to see the person calling in from shore."

"Search-and-rescue [members] are volunteers and I felt badly that they dropped what they were doing and put on all their gear to come out for me,” he said, adding they were "all class" on Twitter.

Whitfield, who won Olympic gold in 2000 and silver in 2008, agreed to get a VHF radio so that he could respond to the general marine broadcast in the future to let everyone know he was okay should a similar situation crop up in the future.

A VHF radio is not required, but can be an important piece of safety gear, said the team, which pointed out Whitfield was following marine rules at the time. "Overall, Simon showed a positive outlook on being as safe as possible while doing the activity he enjoys."

"This was only slightly embarrassing," Whitfield said on his Facebook page Wednesday.

He exercises on his paddle board regularly, storms notwithstanding. He posted photos of himself on Twitter the day before the "rescue", noting that he fell of his board at least once in the swells.

Whitfield, who lives in Victoria, is now involved in various business ventures.

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