The swim leg takes place in the Ohio River.
While no one has all of the answers, here is a quick review of the top questions from Endurance Nation about racing the Ford Ironman Louisville, as answered by our Coaches. Team EN puts 20+ athletes a year through Ironman Louisville...we know the course.
What Is the Swim Like?
Louisville has the most unique swim leg on the IM calendar. Louisville is a time trial start while every other North American Ironman is a wave start. The start order is "first come, first served," and the countdown for the swim cutoff begins when the last person gets in the water.
This is how it works out on race day:
- Set up your transition and then walk about a half-mile upriver to a small park/dock to get in line. Your position in line is your starting position. The earlier you get in line, the closer you are to the front, the closer to 7 a.m. you get in the water and the more time (see swim cutoff note above) you have to complete the swim.
- At 7 a.m. the first age-grouper gets in the water and the organizers do their best to start the next and the next and the next in one- to two-second intervals. You can do the math, but in 2007 it took them about 37 minutes to get everyone in the water. In 2008 it took 45 minutes. If you are in danger of not making the swim cutoff, it behooves you to get in line very, very early.
- You will swim upriver, but between an island and the mainland, so there is very little current (if any) here. You'll swim past the end of the island a few hundred meters, make a left and a left again into the current, and then swim downriver to the swim exit and transition area. The further you swim “out” towards the middle of the river the more current you’ll have pushing you downstream.
It's funky, but if you look at the historical swim times from the event you'll see that they look to be on par with every other Ironman swim. More importantly, everyone has to do it so it's not a big deal.
More: How to Excel at the Ironman Swim
What Is the Transition Like?
Very simple. You'll run up a boat ramp, through the changing tents and out to your bike on the grass. You'll enter the bike course on a wide sidewalk or directly onto the road. The transition is simple and straightforward.
More: 6 Ways to Develop Fast Transitions