What is Swimrun?, If you’re passionate about endurance sports, consider adding a Swimrun event to your racing schedule. This multi-sport competition presents the unique challenge of constantly switching between swimming and running, whether in a standard racing style or on a loop circuit.
Although certain events focus on experienced long-running athletes, there are also several short-lived Swimrun events for beginners!
What is Swimrun History:
Swimrun is genuinely in its earliest stages contrasted with other continuance occasions. The first organized marathon took place as early as 1896 and the first modern triathlon in 1974, but Swimrun’s first organized event did not take place until 2006.
Swimrun’s origins began a few years earlier, in 2002, with a group of four friends in Sweden. Friends challenged each other to conquer a part of the Stockholm archipelago by sea and on foot, from Utö to Sandhamn. They were divided into two pairs, and each took more than 26 hours to complete the challenge.
In 2006, Michael Lemmel, an adventure racer with a sports marketing company, was asked to do a trade event in this racing style. He met up with the original friends from Sweden and watched them through a safety boat as they tested a course summary. At the end of the test, he decided to go ahead with planning the event.
The inaugural Swimrun was called ÖTILLÖ, translated “island to island” in Swedish. Held in September 2006, Only two teams finished it included nine pairs of athletes. The event drew media attention as one of the most difficult resistance events in the world.
Later in 2012, additional Swimrun events began to appear in Sweden. In later years, events began to appear in other countries. Experts estimate that there are now more than 400 Swimrun events worldwide, and the sport continues to grow.
Types of Swimrun Events:
The traditional ÖTILLÖ Swimrun style is done with a partner on a standard style racecourse. However, as the sport has expanded in popularity, race organizers now offer different style events to meet everyone’s needs. Here is a quick description of each type:
Traditional course with a partner:
A traditional course event will be either a point-to-point event or a course that begins and ends at the same location (but does not repeat the same segments).
Most swimming events involve this type of course and include a companion. Members must remain within 10 meters of each other during the race. To make this easier to manage, many partners choose to join together during swimming.
Traditional course without a partner:
In this case, the style of the course is the same, but the race is done alone without a partner. This begins to complement many events that historically only offered membership records. Since finding a partner can be a barrier to entry, offering solo athletes the chance to compete helps increase enrollment.
Loop course without a partner:
Unlike a traditional course, a loop course has a swimming leg and a running leg. You will be challenged to complete the combination with a given loop target (i.e. a 3-loop run) or complete as many loops as possible in a given period of time (i.e. a 4-hour run). These events tend to be individual rather than couples events.
Swimrun Event Training:
Swimrun training is similar to most other resistance training, and is generally divided into three phases:
1. Aerobic base
First, you will want to build an aerobic base in both the running and swimming disciplines.
In this phase, incorporate several runs each week that focus on building distance at a comfortable pace, with a built-in speed or hill work session weekly.
For swimming, include several sessions each week as well. Work on both exercises that improve the shape and comfortable long-lasting swims that improve endurance.
2. Breed Specific Training:
From there, you will move on to race-specific training. This may include swimming longer in the course with equipment (such as paddles or being tied to a partner), race simulation training, adding more technical races and interval races, or other tasks that help you prepare for the specific event.
3. Taper & Race:
Finally, you will end the training with a small cone, where you will reduce the training volume in the 1 to 3 weeks prior to the event. This will help you get there feeling fresh on race day.
Additional training tips:
A coach can help you develop an ideal training plan based on your fitness level, course choice, and career goals. In the meantime, consider these additional tips to help you prepare:
Training in open water:
Doing a lot of laps in a pool is wonderful, but doing the same distance in a lake or ocean is a completely different experience. People often develop a fear of not seeing the bottom, get nervous about living things in the water, have trouble seeing, or are sometimes scared of having nothing to hold on to.
Additionally, Swimrun’s unique nature where it alternates between the two disciplines increases the likelihood of muscle cramps in the water for poorly trained athletes.
At a minimum, these issues can lead to poor performance, and in more severe cases, panic or water cramps can raise significant safety concerns.
If you decide to sign up for a Swimrun event, be sure to get comfortable with open water swimming. Train as much as possible in open water. Take safety precautions when practicing, such as swimming in a group setting, using a safety buoy, informing others about your estimated time in the water, and/or hugging the shoreline (especially if you need to practice alone).
While there is generally large buoys insight in triathlon, this is not the case for many Swimrun events. You may be seeing a small beach or a small flag in the distance.
When training in open water, practice sighting small objects in the distance and swim as straight as possible towards them.
Includes the course:
Your training should be tailored according to the specific attributes of the course. For example:
Is the course not strong or is it more career-focused? Your training plan should consider both your personal strengths/weaknesses and the way the course is structured.
Are the races on roads or trails? This will affect what terrain you need to practice during training.
Are the swimming segments in lakes and ponds, or are they in the ocean? If you are in the ocean, what are the water conditions typically like? If the water is almost always choppy, you’ll want to have some experience in those kinds of conditions.
What is the expected weather on the day of the race? If it’s going to be very hot, you’ll want to make sure you’re comfortable and used to running in the heat.
Do career simulation training:
While many triathletes are familiar with the feeling of changing from one discipline to another, Swimrun becomes new territory as you have to constantly come and go. Be sure to incorporate some career simulation training where you practice alternating between disciplines. This will help you better understand the realities of race day and will also build confidence in your skills.
Choose the right partner:
If you choose to do a Swimrun event with a partner, keep in mind that you will want to choose someone with a similar athletic ability. Because they must stay together throughout the race, it can be frustrating to choose a partner who is considerably faster or slower than you.
Teaming up with someone who runs at the same speed and nothing similar will ensure that you have positive running experience.
Also, make sure that your stressful behavior is relatively positive. It is a long day for both of you during a race and mental fatigue is as essential as physical fatigue. A partner who handles stress well and can stay positive helps both of you through difficult times.