Everything You Need to Know About SwimRun

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Teresa Leese; Total Motion Events; 9th May 2018                                                

Are you a triathlete, runner, swimmer or fitness fanatic looking to challenge yourself in something new? The SwimRun could be for you… This fresh, exciting and raw approach to endurance sports is relatively new to the UK however it is well established in other parts of the world, particularly in Scandinavia where it originated.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                             
What is a SwimRun?

It is a multi-sport event consisting of swimming and running (surprisingly). However the difference being that competitors will switch between swimming and running multiple times. There is no transition in a swimrun and so competitors will swim in their trainers and potentially run in a wetsuit (if the water is cold enough to require one). Having no transition puts emphasis on the importance of pacing the race well. Many people are familiar with triathlon and aquathlon racing however swimrun will add in the extra challenge of swimming post-run. This is NOT easy and something that you are not required to do in typical multi-sport events. Regulating your breathing in the water after running takes practice and should be done in training so you know what to expect.

Where did it come from?

Swimrun originated in Sweden with the now famous ÖtillÖ (island to island) race, first completed back in 2006. The idea of the event was born out of a bet on a drunken night out when one pair challenged another to reach the Utö Värdshus hotel first, which meant passing across more than 20 other islands on the way, swimming and running all the way there. They stuck to their word and the next day they set off to give it a go, and again the year after…. the swimrun was born! If you are interested in finding out more about the origins of the sport click here.

The original idea of a swimrun was always to compete in pairs and complete each leg of the race side by side for moral support, mimicking the original bet. Some races insist you are no more than 10 metres apart from your partner at any one time.

Having come to the UK a few years ago, swimrun is one of the newest and fastest growing sports here with appetite for adventurous endurance challenges growing. The graph below shows increasing adoption and numbers of events growing year on year worldwide, with no signs of slowing down any time soon.

What exactly do I wear?

Depending on water temperature you may opt to wear a wetsuit, but try and use one that is cut above the knee for ease of running. If the water is bearable then it probably easier to just wear a tri-suit. Use of pull buoys and paddles in the water are allowed and even encouraged to save your legs for running however you must remember that anything you swim with, you run with too! So you will need a suitable bag to carry any extra kit/equipment.

A nice lightweight pair of trainers that do not retain too much water will make the swim legs a lot easier so pick these carefully. Also make sure that they fit well as you don’t want them coming off in the water!

Depending on the course you might need a counting method for each leg as you will be doing multiple swims and runs. Wearing a GPS watch is always the easiest way to track and it can give you a good idea of your pace too making sure you don’t go out too fast.

How can I take part?

The South London Swimming Club have joined up with Total Motion to put on a SwimRun event at the iconic Tooting Bec Lido in June and again later in the year. With the race being in a lido it is an ideal beginner event for swimrun newbies so you can practice racing this format in a controlled environment. It is by no means an easy race with 8.8k of running and 1km of swimming in fresh water, however in comparison to some of the larger races across Europe it is a great place to start and highly recommended. For more details and to enter, click here.

Some of the more epic race distances can be found at the following events across the UK:

Taking part in a swimrun? Share your experience with us:

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