Ironman Arizona Race Report – The Swim

Wait! Don’t miss Part 1: Getting to the Start

The Swim – 2.4 Miles

Race morning came around after only 2 hours of sleep. I left Ev in the room to get a little extra sleep while I went down to prep my bike. I got body marked, loaded up my bike with most of the food I’d be eating that day, and made one last bathroom stop before meeting up with Ev.

IMAZ water

The calm before the storm.

She snapped one last picture before I suited up and got take on the Ironman.

IMAZ pre swim 1

IMAZ pre swim 2

from Ev’s perspective

IMAZ swimmers

from my perspective

With my wetsuit zipped up, bright green swim cap on, and goggles secured, I joined the herd being led to the water. With no other option, I held my goggles to my face and leaped into the 65* murky water of Tempe Town Lake. From there I slowly floated my way to the starting line, somewhere in the middle of the pack. The emcee gave a few final words of encouragement before the cannon fired at 7am sharp and we were off on our all-day journey.

My biggest worry for the swim was getting beaten up and thrown out of rhythm by the crush of other swimmers. Fortunately everyone spaced out enough that I could get going relatively smoothly. No doubt there were arm grabs and near foot-to-head collisions, but overall smooth going at the start.

Picture taken from

Picture taken from

My plan consisted of keeping an easy stroke and try to go as straight as possible. During the entire time in the water I felt like I was doing a good job sticking to that plan, but I had no real concept of how fast or slow I was moving. There were buoys set up every 100 meters, or so they said, but I quickly lost count of how many we passed.

swim course

The course heads east for the length of the lake about 1.2 miles before making two left turns and sending us back west toward the start. Other than bunching up at those turns, I swam my own race. Towards the end, as we were getting close to the bridge where we started, a lady kicked me in the goggles, filling up one eye with water. I decided to let it go and keep swimming rather than stop to readjust. With one final left turn, I increased my stroke rate a little to finish the swim as soon as possible.

Climbing out of the water was a huge relief, knowing that, although it was the shortest leg of the race, I was finished with my weakest part of the day. The big shock came when I glanced down at my watch to see my time. The first thought was that my watch stopped or broke; the second thought was that the course was short; and there was no third thought. I had to get to the bike course!

Swim Time: 01:12:32 (goal: 1:30:00)

Transition 1

Out of the water, I pulled my wetsuit down to my waist, got the attention of a wetsuit stripper/peeler, and threw myself on the ground to have my wetsuit ripped off in one quick motion. The path to get my Bike Transition bag and into the changing tent was long, so I focused on regaining my balance and lowering my heart rate as much as I could.

Inside the changing tent, I told myself “slow is smooth, smooth is fast”, and methodically went from swim-mode to bike-mode. If you’re wondering, putting on spandex while wet is really hard. Dressed and still somewhat baffled by my swim time, I ran through the transition area to grab my bike.

T1 Time: 00:11:07

Cliffhanger! Time to get to the bike!

Thoughts? Leave a comment!