What is swimrun? A sport on the rise

What is swimrun?

What does swimrun mean? It is a sport where you alternate between running and swimming without stopping to change gear during transitions. I.e You swim with your shoes on and run in your wetsuit. Sounds strange? Remember the joy you had as a child of jumping in the water with your clothes on? That feeling is great even as an adult!

The origin of swimrun?

It all started with a drunken bet. In 2002, four gentlemen sat at Utö Värdshus and talked about the distance from Utö to Sandhamn. They agreed that in teams of two, they would race from Utö, with three stops along the way. At these stops, there are restaurants where the team that came after would eat and drink what the first team had ordered and pick up the tab.

Said and done, the two teams set out on what would become a movement, and a monumental first go at the massive 75-kilometer course (the wrong way, ending with the long and cold swim between Vindalsö and Sandön none the less). That time, it took them more than 26 hours to complete the full distance.

Why is it called swimrun?

In 2006, the original swimrunners (albeit they didn’t have a name for what they were doing) approached the two experienced adventure racers Mats Skott and Michael Lemmel asking if they thought possible of making a race out of it.

They saw the potential of the experience and started what is now the name synonym with swimrun: ÖtillÖ (island to island in Swedish).

One of the early adopters of the sport, Erika Rosenbaum came up with the name we use today, saying that you should just call it swimrun.

The evolution of a sport

From the early days of swimrun, when what is now the world championship was the only race, a lot has happened.

In the first years, participants needed to wear life jackets during the swims, and to make it to the finish line before it got dark, they rode 3-speed bikes over the infamous Ornö. And winning times have shrunk from 26 hours to just over seven and a half hours.

One of the reasons the sport has evolved so rapidly is because the rules are quite relaxed. Main rules to follow are:

  • You compete in a team of two, and can not be further than 10 meters apart.
  • Always help a team in need.
  • Leave only footprints, don’t throw trash in nature.

Basically, respect each other and nature, and hang on for the ride!

Your swimrun gear differs from that in swimming or triathlon, where there are strict rules about how the wetsuit can be designed, and when to wear it. Instead, the rule is, what you have on you on the starting line, you need to carry with you to the finish line. If you want to use paddles, pull buoy or anything else – Go ahead!

Want to get into the fun?

Swimrun is great fun, and much easier than many people expect. If you would like to try it out and test what it’s like, try out our Start Up swimrun program. Designed for the novice swimrunner! Or, if you know that this is for you: Join the TOT endurance club!

Today, swimrun is a sport for everyone

From the early days, when people ran in wetsuits designed for open water swimming. Starting to redesign the suits by themselves and putting a zipper in front for an easier way of ”cabbing down” (taking the suit off on the upper body during the run). Today, multiple brands design swimrun-specific wetsuits, and there are even brands dedicated solely to swimrun. Lots have happened in a short time!

And although the sport is starting to get more refined, you still see lots of homemade gear at races, and the evolution is still rapid! ­

And it is no longer a sport over really long distances. Swimrun is now for everybody. Race distances range from 5 kilometers and upwards. And most long-distance courses land around marathon distance (42,2 kilometers).

Would you like to start training swimrun?

Fill out this form, and you will get a free swimrun training plan from us! It is a great way to start looking into what you need, and what you would like to achieve with your training.

Read more about swimrun

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