An athlete who drowned in a lake while taking part in the Blenheim Palace Triathlon, got his feet entangled in a rope attached to a buoy, a coroner heard on Wednesday.

An inquest was told that 56-year-old Andrew Phillips was found floating face-down in the lake at the Woodstock palace.

He died in hospital several days later without ever regaining consciousness.

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The athlete who was swimming in one of the three sections of the competition, was found unresponsive in the water shortly after noon on May 28 last year.

He was pulled out of the lake where the swim element of the sporting event was taking place.

Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter was played a video clip from the event which showed lifeguards rushing to the exit pontoon at the side of the lake and pulling Mr Phillips out of the water.

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He was resuscitated on the banks of the lake and then taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford where he died three days later.

The coroner heard that a pathologist gave the cause of his death as an ischaemic encephalopathy, meaning a lack of oxygen to the brain and cardiac arrest caused by drowning.

There was no evidence that Mr Phillips' drowning had been caused by any other medical event.

The three day inquest in Oxford is being held to determine whether his death was in any way connected to the safety measures and set up of the Blenheim Triathlon charity competition.

Oxford Mail: Blenheim PalaceBlenheim Palace

The inquest heard that there were reports that Mr Phillips' was found with his feet entangled in the rope of the buoy.

Senior coroner Salter said: "This was a traumatic event for everyone involved - for close members of the family but also for the organisers and staff present."

Samantha Wheeler, who was a swim safety lifeguard present on the pontoon at the time of the incident, gave her testimony to the hearing.

She said: "He (Mr Philips) was swimming into the rope and I signalled him to swim to the left away from the rope.

"He corrected his course. I saw him swim past my feet by the pontoon, then around the buoy at which point I couldn't see where he had gone.

"I took a step back to see if he had come out the other way. Then I saw him face-down and another swimmer shouted that there was a problem."

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She added: "The swimmer pushed Mr Phillips towards me and I screamed 'casualty'."

The coroner heard that Mr Phillips was taken to a medical team within a minute but it seemed his airway was not cleared immediately after he was pulled out of the water.

"There was no indication of clearing the swimmer's airway after he was taken out of the water," said Ms Wheeler.

Mr Phillips, who lived in Altrincham with his wife Amanda, had no previous medical history and was described by family and friends as a "keen sportsman" and a "strong swimmer."

Sarah Griffith, a friend of Mr Phillips and a co-participant in the Blenheim Triathlon, said: "He was confident in the water and he told me he had been practicing swimming.

"He realised that a triathlon was a tough event and he had prior experience of this."

The inquest continues.