A week of swimrun fun in Croatia

Jul 27, 2017

By Sarah Odell

It’s June 19, 2016, the day after the inaugural ÖTILLÖ qualifier on the Isles of Scilly and I am gutted not to join Mats and Michael – whom I’ve known since the Nineties when we competed in the same adventure races – as they leave to swim and explore more of the beautiful islands.

I am tired and sore and the thought of putting my wetsuit on is just too much to bear so I get some comfort food from the supermarket and hobble back to my hotel.

Fast forward 10 months and I am jogging along the coast of Hvar, Croatia, chatting with the other participants of the ÖTILLÖ training camp. We come from the UK, Sweden, Switzerland and Russia, and all share a love of swimrun and adventure.

Mikael Rosen, the “Rain Man of swimming” and Mats Andersson – one of the original ÖTILLÖ four – are our guides for the week. Between them, they have a wealth of knowledge and many stories from the early days of swimrun but first they want to see us in the water.

We jump in and go for it, keen to show off our swimming skills. Our group is well matched and Mikael is happy. His big smile signals the start of a glorious week of swimrun.

I love running over rocks, swimming into stunning bays and not rushing to get out. We have time for coffees and to enjoy the view but also spice things up with spurts of competitive fun. Steep inland trails challenge our legs but we soon descend and are rewarded with another beautiful lagoon. By Day 3, I throw away my wetsuit and goggles. Less is more and I feel even closer to nature like a wild warrior woman.

I had no specific goal in mind when I arrived, just to swim a lot, and I’d say the best part about the training week is experiencing all the best bits of swimrun – adventure, beautiful location and a break from work – without the stress of racing.

By the end the week I’m exhausted after so much activity but also happy and invigorated from the elements without the dull drain and stress of racing. I learned that I could swim quite well without a wetsuit, paddles, cap and goggles. Roll on the next ÖTILLÖ swim camp – I can’t wait!

Sarah’s Top 3 Training Camp Tips

  1. Test out race kit but also have fun and try a day swimming without all your paddles, goggles, wetsuit and stuff.
  2. Stretch or do a yoga session so your muscles adapt to the long days.
  3. Bring a waterproof camera!

Read more about Hvar here

Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue #3 (July 2017)

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