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.
You're definately gonna want a wetsuit. Temps will be pretty cool in the water. I'd also recommend a full sleeve wetsuit rather than the long john sleeveless type. Not only will you get a benefit in your swim, but it will also protect your arms from the jellyfish.
I don't remember what the avg H20 temps are, but it seems like upper 60s.
I personally wear Zoot wetsuits.
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.