They cannot make a wetsuit decision until race morning
The “80 degrees” water temperature that was quoted today at the race talk was taken Friday during the afternoon. It’s not the “race” water temperature, which is supposed to be taken within two hours of the race start (USAT Rules § 4.6).
I’ll eat my rescue tube if the water is above 78 degrees tomorrow morning. I did two swims across the lake today and the temperature is more like 76 degrees. It is definitely warmer at the beach, but in the middle, it’s the same temperature the lake usually stays, more like 75-78 degrees.
Even if the water is 80 degrees, you can still wear a wetsuit
USAT rules (§ 4.4) say that participants cannot wear wetsuits only if the temperature is 84 degrees or above. If the water temperature is 79 to 83 degrees, you can wear a wetsuit if you wish, but you would not be eligible for prizes or awards. So unless you think you’re going to win, or place in the top 3 people in your age group, don’t hesitate to wear your wetsuit if you wish.
Race directors can make modifications if the water temperature is 79-83 degrees
Per the course talk today, if the water temperature is 79 or above, you can wear a wetsuit but will go in the last wave. This is a scoring accommodation that the race director can make to separate out in the computer timing those who would not be “eligible for prizes or awards.” So even in the worst situation of warm water, you could still wear the wetsuit but would start last. (Though if this happens, they’re probably going to have to “divide” the last wave – it’ll be pretty big!)
So, short version – bring your wetsuit, wear your wetsuit, and don’t worry too much about it!
See you tomorrow (in the <79° water),Ken
Coach Ken Johnson
Triathlon Coach and Fitness Instructor
Lake Andrea Open Water Swim Coordinator
Pleasant Prairie RecPlex