A referee and two athletes participating in a South African triathlon dived into the ocean to rescue two stricken men who were being swept out to sea. After pushing and tugging the men to shore, the athletes finished the grueling race a little later than they had planned.

Athletes Martin Potgieter and Dylan Hartwig said Thursday that they were running the last miles (kilometers) of the contest when they stopped to help the men, who were struggling to stay afloat off the East London coast.

Delayed by 15 to 20 minutes, the athletes put their running shoes back on and finished on Sunday — Potgieter in six hours and 50 minutes and Hartwig in seven hours and 15 minutes.

South Africa's Ironman 70.3 race includes swimming, cycling and running.