World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) announced a new “SwimSmart” initiative that will change aspects of the swim section of Ironman events. SwimSmart came about in an effort to ease the discomfort and fear that triathletes have about the open-water swim. SwimSmart will be implemented in two phases.
Phase One Changes:
- Modify or get rid of the mass start at certain North American Ironman events. The changes for the affected 2013 events include a continuous stream rolling start across a timing mat in Ironman Coeur d’Alene and Ironman Lake Placid; an age group-based wave start in Ironman Mont-Tremblant; and a mass start with athletes self-seeded into corrals in Ironman Lake Tahoe and Ironman Florida. WTC is trying out various swim start formats to determine which work best. As a result of the swim start changes, many participants will begin their event before the traditional 7 a.m. start time and will have until midnight to finish, to potentially have a 17-hour-plus Ironman finishing time.
- Adding a pre-race in-water warm-up to events when possible.
- Swim portion cancelled or shortened due to water temperatures below 52 degrees Fahrenheit or above 88 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Adding numbered course buoys to aid in personnel placement and communication for locating and rescuing distressed swimmers.
- Placing anchored resting rafts throughout the course - athletes will NOT be disqualified by resting on these floats.
- Increasing the number of professional swim course personnel as well as the number of rescue boats and personal watercraft.
Second Phase Changes:
- Instituting education initiatives to help reduce anxiety associated with the Ironman event swim, which will begin the end of May 2013.
- Pre-race screening for potential health issues.
- Pre-race training and race week preparation.
- All Ironman media platforms, a checklist and on-line videos will be used.
For more information, visit Ironman.com.