July 07, 2015

TOWNSVILLE, Australia (AP) An eight-kilometer (five-mile) open water swimming event between a popular north Queensland island and the city of Townsville has been canceled due to crocodile sightings.

Organizers said Wednesday it was the first time the Magnetic Island to Townsville swim has had to be called off in its 61-year history. Nearly 100 swimmers had planned to compete in the July 26 event.

Race committee member John Barrett says ''I've had information that crocodiles were spotted on Friday and Saturday ... we need to make sure we are safe and don't put anyone at risk.''

Earlier this year, a beach north of Townsville was closed when a large crocodile was sighted along the shoreline.

On average, one person a year is killed by a crocodile in the tropical north of Australia.

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