So let's talk about the swim at Ironman Louisville, which takes place in the gorgeous Ohio River. It is unique from other Ironmans in a couple of major ways: it is non-wetsuit legal and it is a time trial start. Those factors combine to change the goals for the swim in a couple of ways.
Non wetsuit legal:
Not being able to wear a wetsuit will definitely affect me more than it will a "good" swimmer. The wetsuit neutralizes those differences in abilities a little bit, especially over the course of 2.4 miles. I believe the wetsuit also significantly helps ease lower back issues a lot, as I've found that during long open water swims with no wetsuit my lower back begins to get sore after about 2 miles. Hopefully with all of the non wetsuit swims Fletch and I have been doing up in the Lake (as well as other random ones here and there) my body will be able to handle the long (time-wise) swim a little better. I've definitely felt that these OWS with Fletch have helped close the gap a bit between my pool swim times and my open water swim times although I haven't had a race yet to determine whether or not that belief is true...
Time Trial start:
I think this is going to be part of the next "wave" (pun intended) in Ironmans: the wave start. With the increasing participation numbers in each race (Lake Placid reportedly had 3000+ registrants), a time trial type start will soon be the only way to go. I definitely think this format is MUCH better for a slightly above average IM swimmer like me as I won't get pummeled by people who will be going sub-hour swim (since I would line up near the front of a race like CdA/Florida/etc. What it also means is that I won't really be able to "race" anybody during the race because I'll never know exactly how far ahead (or behind) me they are. I may be ahead on the course but they may have started 15-20+ minutes behind me so they are actually crushing me!
Times: I am looking for a 1:10 or better swim.