On May 9, 2013, in an effort to improve athlete satisfaction and reduce athlete anxiety during the swim portion of the race, Ironman will test different swim race starts and other course enhancements in 2013.
Changes/enhancements for 2013 will include modified Swim Starts at Select Races. Ironman will pilot several alternative race starts at select events to further enhance athlete experience and reduce swim anxiety. Three events in 2013 will feature new swim start formats – Ironman Coeur d’Alene, Ironman Lake Placid and Ironman Mont-Tremblant – while two other 2013 events, Ironman Lake Tahoe and Ironman Florida, will feature modifications in how athletes start their races.
Both Ironman Coeur d’Alene and Ironman Lake Placid will feature rolling starts in 2013. Athletes will enter the water in a continuous stream through a controlled access point, similar to how running road races are started. An athlete’s times will start when they cross timing mats under the swim arch.
Athletes will be directed to self-seed on race morning based on their projected swim time. Volunteers and staff will be in the staging area with signs and will assist with this process. Self-seeding will not be mandatory, but will be encouraged. At both events, all athletes will have access to a dedicated warm-up area in the water located adjacent to the swim start.
Age-group athletes will begin entering the water at 6:35 A.M. for Ironman Coeur d’Alene and 6:30 A.M. for Ironman Lake Placid, and will have the two hours and twenty minutes from the time the last athlete enters the water to complete the swim. An athlete’s time does not begin until he or she crosses the timing mat located below the swim arch. All athletes are expected to start by 7:00 A.M. at both venues, thus keeping all other timelines and cutoffs the same. This will ensure that all participants have at least the full 17 hours (subject to intermediate cutoffs) to complete the event.
For 2013, the swim course at Ironman Coeur d’Alene will remain the same, while Ironman Lake Placid will reverse the swim direction with athletes swimming clockwise.
Ironman Mont-Tremblant will feature a wave start based on age group. There will be eight waves with each wave entering the water five minutes apart, starting at 6:25 A.M. All athletes will have at least 17 hours to complete the entire event (subject to intermediate cutoffs). The two hour and twenty minute cutoff for the swim will begin when the final wave has started the swim portion of the event.
Ironman Lake Tahoe and Ironman Florida will feature a mass start based on self-seeding. Athletes will self-seed into swim start corrals based upon their estimated swim finish time. All athletes will have the traditional 17 hours to complete the entire event (subject to intermediate cutoffs).
North American Ironman events will include a pre-race, in-water warm-up whenever possible.
Water temperature below 52 degrees Fahrenheit or above 88 degrees Fahrenheit will result in cancellation or shortening of the swim portion of the race
Numbered course buoys to assist in positioning of water assets/personnel and provide more accurate communication for locating and rescuing distressed swimmers. Anchored resting rafts to be strategically placed along the swim course (please note that athletes will NOT be disqualified by resting on these floats). Increased professional swim course personnel to enhance the overall athlete experience. Additional rescue boat and personal watercrafts (PWC, kayaks, paddleboards, etc.).
The second phase of the initiative will feature a comprehensive effort to educate athletes about reducing anxiety associated with the swim portion of Ironman events, focusing on pre-race screening for potential health issues, pre-race training and race-week preparation. Such efforts will use all Ironman media platforms and will include a checklist and online videos. Swim-specific educational communications will begin at the end of May.
The other Ironman events in North America (Ironman Texas, Ironman Louisville, Ironman Wisconsin, Ironman Arizona) are scheduled to have the same swim start format as in 2012. Ironman Canada (with a new venue in 2013) will feature a two-loop swim with an in-water mass start.
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