It's coming...and it'll be here sooner than you think. The 2023 Ironman World Championships has been location-split for the first time in the event's history. While the men are headed to Nice, France for the World Championship race, this year's women's race takes place in the town that iconically bore it all: Kona. This year, it's just the ladies racing in Hawaii.
And with the guys gone, that means a few more women headed down Dig Me Beach. How will that affect how the race—particularly the swim—pans out?
We talked to one of the best swimmers in multisport: QR Pro Athlete Haley Chura. Haley was the fastest swimmer at the 2021 Ironman World Championships and always one of the first out of the water at any race—including Kona—so she knows what it takes to go fast.
With Kona coming fast for the world's fastest women, she delivers her top five key tips to a successful swim this October in the warm waters of Kailua Bay. If you're not racing in Kona, they're still great tips for almost any wave-start open-water race—so listen closely!
1. Dial in for Head-to-Head Action
Based on the 2022 swim waves, we can expect the pro women to start at 6:25a, followed by Paratri athletes, and then the age group waves every five minutes. Wave starts and chronological start numbers should help age group athletes racing for a podium or top finish enjoy some head-to-head competition. In many races, a time trial swim start makes it hard to know if an athlete is ahead or behind another athlete on the race course, but wave starts mean the winner is the first across the finish line.
2. Practice Treading Water (Literally!)
The swim starts about 200 meters offshore, so athletes can expect a short swim and some time spent treading water before each wave starts. Athletes might want to practice treading water and then starting from a prone position to prepare for race day.
3. Get Hydrofast with HYDROSpeed Swimskins
The water in Kailua Bay is warm and clear. Athletes should wear a swimskin like the Quintana Roo HYDROpeed swimskin to smooth over any seams and pockets in their tri suit and maximize their speed in the water. The HYDROspeed comes in sleeved and sleeveless models and I plan to wear the sleeveless version for extra shoulder mobility.
4. Breathe in O2... not H20!
The ocean water is very salty so athletes should take care to avoid drinking sea water during the swim which can increase the risk of gastrointestinal distress later in the day. I suggest athletes exhale through their mouths while their faces are in the water, then try to time inhalations between waves.
5. Swim on the Hip
The 2023 race will feature the largest Women's Age Group field in history, which means there is a better chance athletes will have athletes of similar swim speed with them in the water. Swimming on another athlete’s feet or hip is a good idea to take advantage of the draft, but I encourage athletes to occasionally look for the sight buoys to avoid following those feet off course.
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