COEUR D’ALENE – The locals told KREM 2 that the water of Lake Coeur d’Alene felt “warm” for this time of the year. Two Californians who dove in on Wednesday used a different adjective.
“It’s nice and chilly,” second-time IRONMAN Steve Hinton said. “I also realize, while we’re in wetsuits, there’s a small child over there with water wings and no wet suit, so she’s a lot tougher than we are.”
Hinton and his friend, Frankie Choyeski, a first-time IRONMAN, have been practicing their swim in the Pacific Ocean off the shores of Southern California. They said they picked the Coeur d’Alene IRONMAN because of the setting.
Three days before the race, they admit, nerves and excitement are building.
“I think in the first couple hundred yards you’re nervous just from the excitement, the adrenalin of the whole thing,” Choyeski said. “But after you get past that you just kind of level out and start to find your home, I think.”
IRONMAN athletes seem to have a favorite leg of the race, whether it be the swim, the bike or the run. Many athletes dread the swim, but it’s in the water where Choyeski, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, and Hinton, who grew up playing water polo, feel the most comfortable.
Still, they said race-day jitters will likely follow them into the water on Sunday morning.
“Even though I enjoy the swim, it’s intimidating,” Hinton said. “With a massive start and all those people, a lot of chop, a lot of elbows, lot of feet. You waste a lot of energy trying to get through that and so if you’re not real comfortable in the water that could be a real issue.”