This discussion is intended to provide information and thoughts about the swim portion of IM Florida. Many racers will not have ocean open water experience, so any tips will help. Feel free to ask questions, as well.
Biggest tip. If you swallow water, learn how not too. The salt water will gang up on you later in the race. I had this problem with the swim. The cool thing about the swim is that you can see everything around you. The water is clear. Last year was rough conditions, but I've had worse lake chop in the Carolinas. I was at the swim start this year and it was like glass! Oh man we need that for our race! A tip I was given that helped tremendously, when you get there get out in the water Thu and Fri just to get used to it and some familiarity. You will be more comfortable come Sat morning. Hope this helps.
Being from Houston, I have had plenty of Tri's in saltwater so make sure to body glide all over in your wetsuit, especially around your neck, ankles, watch and wrists. The gulf saltwater will chafe like there is no tomorrow and I can only imagine how bad it could get in the run. Take the 30 seconds to wash off the salt when you get out of your wetsuit, ladies especially out of your hair as that will burn your eyes when you start sweating on the bike.
My first IM and looking forward to it, see y'all next year. Good training!
What do you wear under your wetsuit if it is real important to get all the saltwater off as mentioned. I was thinking of wearing my bike shorts and tri top underneath so that it will be less to change coming out of the water.
Thanks to everyone so far who has commented to this discussion. I have already learned a few great tips that I would have never considered if not told otherwise. I am curious about the salt level--has anyone done races in the Causeway water near Wrightsville Beach? If so, how much higher is the salt in the Gulf than there? I would imagine about twice as much but not sure. Also, when the jelly fish touch you, does it hurt or just kind of feel weird?
Way cool idea of the bike shorts over the tri shorts! Hopefully over the course of the year I'll build up better endurance to the bike seat but can't see how extra padding can hurt at any point...
- Usually the current is from the right to left
- the short leg between the first and second turn will have the sun in your eyes, it's not vey long though
- after the first loop run down the beach as far as possible before reentering the water
-on the return leg back to the beach it is often difficult to sight due to waves. I have found if you aim for the bungie ride that can be seen to the left of the boardwalk condos you will be aiming in the right direction. ( it has to vertical beams - not the one with an arch)
- bring warm clothes for before the race including gloves and a hat it will be chilly
What has the water temp been the last couple years for IMFL? Currently don't have a wetsuit and just starting to research them, any suggestions. Did IMKY 11 and going again in 2012, but at 85 degree water never even looked at wetsuits.
Almost everyone had a wetsuit on of some type last year. Not sure temp.
I haven't done a full ironman in a wetsuit, either, but I've done plenty of halfs in them. Prior to purchasing a wetsuit for IMTX (which turned out not to be wetsuit legal), I spent a few years of renting wetsuits. I have rented everything from the most expensive to the cheapest and found that price is not really a factor in the quality of the suit for each particular body type. My two cents are either 2XU or QR. I purchased QR because I've tried 3 different suits on that line and liked each one. I also have my fastest times in the QR suits. So, what I would suggest is to try renting a few types/sizes before purchasing. I used a local bike shop to rent from and it was $20 a weekend from Friday to Monday.
I have done the Florida Ironman twice. I would have three pieces of advice:
1.When you make the turn back to shore there is a large highrise to the right of the Boardwalk Resort. That is right if you are in the water looking to shore. The swim exit is where the far left of the high rise is (again, facing the high rise from the water). It is an excellent guide/marker to help you swim in line back to shore. Someone taught me that on my first year. The glare from the sun can impact you so a large marker like that really helps.
2.Pay attention to the onshore flow. The water was flowing from west to east. So the water naturally pulls you towards the markers. It is smart to start a bit further away from the markers on the swim start as you will be pushed towards them. Less effort, less crowded.
3.Keep a small vile of vinegar in your bike transition bag. If you are stung by a jellyfish and you have a bad reaction you can pour the vinegar over the sting. It help neutralize the jellyfish sting.
Happy swimming! Brian.