Since my last major triathlon event (Ironman Canada, 2011) there has been a change in how the swim starts. Instead of a mass start, we now have the joy of the wave start. When I heard about this change I had hoped that it was like the indoor triathlons I did where we self-declared our time and were put in that group. That’s the way marathons are too, where you seed yourself in the group. A few months ago I learned that this is not how the swim wave start is.
A swim wave start happens according to age groups. The big confusion happens when it comes to cut-off times because no one is really sure how the cut-offs are calculated. They are theoretically calculated at the time of your wave start, but you have to be done your race at the final race cut-off. So no one really knows how they work. The best way to avoid the dreaded race cut-off is to be well within the cut offs!
The race I’m doing in less than 2 weeks, Ironman 70.3 Silverman in Las Vegas, has about 2000 participants. This means that the swim wave start will be in effect. The other day I was looking at the website and found that they have the swim wave start list up. It turns out that my age category starts 5th out of 18 waves.
Here is the schedule for swim starts:
There are two ways for me to look at this:
1. Starting early in the race, as in the first amateur age-group heat, means that there shouldn’t be too much question about the cut-offs for me. I wouldn’t really expect there to be much concern about cut-offs, but after being out of the long-distance thing it’s really hard to tell.
2. I am going to be punished for getting older and moving into the 35 to 39 category. If I didn’t change categories I would be swimming in the 16th heat behind the 50+ people where I belong!
There are a LOT of reasons for me to be freaked out by this race: the hills, the heat, my lack of racing the past few years, and the hugeness of this race. But what worries me the most is this swim wave start. I am worried that I’ll be swum over and pummeled for being slow. I really need to wrap my mind around this. Although, maybe it will help take my mind off the intensity of the rest of the race.
Oh, how I wish I was still 34!