There are dolphins playing in the distance and a garden of coral under your feet. It is truly paradise and makes even the most inexperienced swimmer feel comfortable in the big blue sea.
The garden of coral is hidden due to choppy water and the dolphins are likely laughing at us from afar, as our swimming has nothing to do with efficiency and we are far from swimming beautifully in the water.
In my last two Ironman articles, I discussed smart swimming and mastering the mass start. The IM World Championship is an entirely different beast for instead of 100ish Kona contenders in the water at a respective Ironman event, the playing field is even. Certainly, there are different calibers of swimming ability but every athlete has earned his/her spot to race in Kona because they are a fast and smart all-around Ironman athlete.
I trained hard for Kona so I trusted my swim ability entering the race. But, my goal at Kona was to race as smart as possible. So, instead of fighting for a faster time, I choose to let others do the work and I would just swim steady. I did not try to fight, I did not get aggressive and I was not worried about my time. I had a goal of 1:03-1:05 for the swim (my PR swim is 1:01.10 – with wetsuit at IM Lake Placid) here in Kona but even if I was over that, I was not going to let it run or ruin my day. My #1 goal for the swim was to exit the water feeling fresh and energized to bike for 112 miles (also knowing that a 26.2 mile run in the heat was going to end my day).
So, with one less thing to worry about as I was running out of the water, I found a spot on the staircase to carefully run up and I removed my cap and goggles and I ran through the hoses to rinse off. Oh – so refreshing after swimming in salt water for 1 hour and 7 minutes.