LAKE PLACID — As part of its SwimSmart Initiative, Ironman has made changes to the swim portion of this year’s Lake Placid race, including switching from a traditional mass start to a rolling start.
That move was made with eye on safety for age-group athletes, but at least one professional is worried the new start format will change the dynamic of the women’s race.
“I think it’s really a problem for the pro women, actually,” Hillary Biscay said. “To be totally honest, I think that if you’re doing Ironman, you should know how to swim, and I don’t think that the Ironman should have to be taking these safety precautions.
“Ironman shouldn’t necessarily be a thing that everyone can do.”
Ironman Lake Placid begins with the professional men entering Mirror Lake at 6:20 a.m. today. The triathlon, in its 15th year, includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.
Rather than having all of the age groupers start the swim at once, they will start in a steady stream, with their time beginning when they cross a timing mat. It’s expected to take 25 to 30 minutes for everyone to get in the water. The process will start at 6:30.
Biscay said this could end up giving some women a boost, especially as they begin the bike leg. While drafting is against the rules, Biscay said there can still be advantages to riding with a group of strong cyclists.
“It means that the age groupers are going to start five minutes after the pro women,” Biscay said. “And what happens then is that we have age-group men that are getting in the middle of our race. And that presents a massive advantage for the women who are weak swimmers because they will immediately have age-group men to sort of tow them along.