There was big news in the triathlon community yesterday: Ironman announced their new swimming initiative called “SwimSmart.” Some people are complaining, saying that it’s making the Ironman “soft,” where as I couldn’t be more excited.
Here are some of the changes that I’m looking forward to:
A few 2013 IM events (including IMCDA) will feature modifications in the swim start. Including a pre-race swim warm-up, new water temperature regulations (if the water is too cold or too warm, the swim will be altered), and self-placed rolling starts (aka “waves” like in running races).
For those who are as lucky as I am to have open water anxiety, I was terrified of the IMCDA swim start. Formerly, they didn’t allow for in-water warm-ups and it was a mass start: you literally just run from the beach, into the water with thousands of other people. The old plan would mean that I wouldn’t be able to do my in-water anti-anxiety drills and warm-up, and I was just going to stand in the back and try to stay calm. In other words, it might have been a disaster.
But with the changes, I can do the critical warm-up and drills that I desperately needed to get my heart rate in the right place. Furthermore, it won’t be a mad dash. I’m used to waved starts, I like waved starts, I won’t have a heart attack. This is awesome.
In addition to these modified starts, there is a second phase:
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 on-line videos. Swim-specific educational communications will begin at the end of May.
I can’t express how grateful I am for Ironman taking notice of the anxiety that open water swimming causes. For those who are complaining about this new change, try getting an open water panic attack and then come talk to me about these changes. I value life over a running start any day.
Details on the IMCDA swim start are as follows:
IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene will feature a rolling start…athletes will enter the water in a continuous stream through a controlled access point… An athlete’s times will start when they cross timing mats under the swim arch.
If you are now complaining that your finish photo won’t match your gun time, welcome to the running world. They never match.
If you can’t tell already, I am SO EXTREMELY grateful for this change. Thank you, Ironman.
Now it’s your turn: what do you think about the new Ironman SwimSmart changes?