I got down to the race site nice and early and got bodymarked and then proceeded to find a quiet spot on the beach with Gemma to try and relax.
Normally I am more nervous than this for races, however today I felt suprisingly calm.
The ironman start is an amazing thing to see, so many people all trying to get to the first turn as soon as possible. The sea becomes similar to a washing machine, everything getting churned up. In the middle it can get physical, with arms and legs flying. At the first turn you have 2500 competitors all trying to take the shortest path around the first buoy. It gets to the point people are treading water as they are unable to swim forward due to the sheer numbers of people in front.
I was warned of this and made a concerted effort to stay wide, this added a few extra meters to my swim distance, but meant I was able to swim uninteruppted for the duration of the swim. I went wide at every buoy and never really had an issue with conjestion. The swim start at the Chicago triathlon was more conjested than my Ironman swim.
From 12 months ago, being unable to swim freestyle and before the race being concerned about the swim cutoffs the swim itself went very easily. I didn't find myself wanting the swim to end (as I do in the pool) and other than watching out for jelly fish I had a really nice swim.
Came out of the water on the first loop to see the clock showing 45mins, my immediate thought was great, another 45min swim and I am totally on target for a 1hr 30 swim time. At that point I looked at my watch and realised the clock was showing the Pro's time (who started 10mins before everyone else, they need the headstart!) so my first loop was 35mins, now my confidence was really up, this was the fastest I had swam 1.2 miles and I felt really fresh.
Second loop was the same as the first, except even less congested, tried to appreciate the last 100 or so meters of the swim as I was really enjoying the swim.
Out of the water at 1hr 15... goal beaten by 15mins and my fastest ever swim and still feeling really good. I was over the moon at this point, my one big fear about missing the swim cutoff had been blown away.
On to the wetsuit strippers, who did a great job of getting my wetsuit off and me on my way to the transition. Saw Gemma on my way to transition and stopped to give her a kiss. (This may have to stop in future races as it's costing me time!)
The swim change tent at this point is just packed with naked people (tents are split mens and womens) changing into their cycling gear. Found myself a small space and changed into my cycle gear and then it was off to get sunscreened up and out on the bike.