Swimmer Dies During Open Water Masters Race

The body of a 45-year-old man has been recovered from Lake Audubon in Virginia after he disappeared during an open water swim Sunday.

Kevin Ruby was competing at the United States Masters Swimming 2018 Middle Distance Open Water National Championship race in Reston, Virginia, but did not check in at the end of the 2-mile race. Organizers launched an emergency search, and Ruby’s body was found in the lake on Monday. Per The Washington Post, a medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

Reston Masters Swim Team, the club hosting the event, released the following statement, saying that Ruby had possibly suffered a medical emergency during the race:

Reston Masters Swim Team (RMST) extends our deepest condolences to the family and friends on the tragic loss of Kevin Ruby. According to the Fairfax County Police, Mr. Ruby possibly suffered a medical emergency during the United States Masters Swimming 2018 Middle Distance (2-mile) Open Water National Championship race on Sunday, May 27, 2018. When he did not finish within his expected race time, emergency search efforts began immediately. After extensive efforts, Mr. Ruby was recovered from Lake Audubon on Monday, May 28, 2018.

Reston Masters is honored to have had Mr. Ruby compete at our Jim McDonnell Lake Swims for many years. He was a very talented top finisher. Earlier Sunday morning Mr. Ruby won his age group in the 1-mile race with a time of 23:38.

As part of all our races, Fairfax County on-water EMS staff are an integral part of our operations. We are especially grateful for the timely and extensive additional support from Fairfax County Police and Fairfax County Fire & Rescue.

Please join Reston Masters in keeping Kevin Ruby in our hearts and memories as an accomplished distance swimmer.  

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Becky D

This sounds like an absolute nightmare. Peace to all involved.


Yikes, second one in three or four years at this race!


Not surprised, this is the second death in three years at this event. Something is going on that needs further investigation.



I’d be cautious about blaming the event, or the organizers. This is my fifth year participating in the event and the team that runs it do an amazing job of keeping the swimmers safe. There are EMS boats on the water, as well as a large contingent of lifeguards. The swimmer who died in 2015 had a massive heart attack. I suspect that the ME will report a similar cause of death for Mr. Ruby. There are some things that even the best laid plans cannot prepare for.


I’ve done the 1 miler at this event a few times in the past. Agreed with Chooch, this is a fantastically well run event.

Talking with someone in the know, the number of deaths at OW races across the country has been on the rise. Whether that’s attributable to more swimmers doing OW, therefore commensurately more deaths, or another factor is something I’d like more info on.

Jim McFarland

There has been a great number of A-Fib events that can occur to the use of NSAIDs.
My inclination is to look at those drugs – anti-inflammatory drugs. I think this is the reason for the increase in fatalities, in addition to other meds that diminish magnesium etc.


I was in this race this year and in 2017. Just because there was a death in 2015 a this race does not mean that the deaths have anything to do with how the race is conducted. Like others have noted, this race is extremely well run. My impression is that the race organizers take safety very seriously. There were plenty of lifeguards and other safety personnel (including Fairfax County Fire & Rescue on boats) on the water during the race. We started in reasonably sized waves in the water which is a much less stressful way to start an open water race than a mass-start or running into the water. The water temp this year was 78.8 so wetsuits… Read more »

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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