New swim course for Ironman events

Chloe FraserBusselton Dunsborough Times

Ironman and Ironman 70.3 will introduce a new swim course for all events this year after organisers were forced to cancel several events because of shark sightings in the past year.

Despite some competitors’ disappointment, SunSmart Ironman WA organisers cancelled the swim leg of the triathlon in December after a 2.5m shark was spotted 600m offshore.

It was the second major race to be shortened in 2017 after the cancellation of the swim leg of the half Ironman event in May.

As a result, a comprehensive review of all aspects of the three swim courses was undertaken, with the organisers announcing the full Ironman swim course would change to a two-loop swim and the Ironman 70.3 WA and Ironman 70.3 Busselton would take a single-loop format.

The announcement follows data revealed in a CSIRO report released last week, which indicted there could be up to 1460 adult great white sharks off the coast of WA.

Ironman Oceania media manager Noel McMahon said athlete safety was a primary focus and the redesigned courses allowed for better risk management strategies, reducing the likelihood of a swim cancellation.

All three swims will have a common starting point in front of The Goose but will remain within 300m of shore.

Under the changes, the Ironman WA and Ironman 70.3 swim courses will turn left under the jetty, while the Ironman 70.3 Busselton swim course will remain on the right-hand side.

Busselton triathlete Andrew Hembroff, who has competed in 22 Ironman events, said changes to the swim course were a positive step. “If it will reduce the swim being cancelled because of sharks then it’s a positive step to take,” he said.

“It will also make the swim easier because we won’t need to fight the offshore winds coming back.”

Mr McMahon said a two-loop swim that was closer to the shore would provide greater coverage of water safety assets.

“In either a mass swim evacuation scenario or any individual water related incident, swimmers and/or water safety staff can make shore in a substantially quicker time than on the previous course,” he said.

The Ironman 70.3 Busselton will be held on Sunday, May 6, with the full Ironman taking place on Sunday, December 2.

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