Lars Ekman And Fredrik Axegård team up For Utö
It is now more than two years ago since the last ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Utö and a lot has happened since. As written in our latest article about the winning teams from 2019 Team Beaver Brothers, the overall winners has become something new. Jonas Ekman- Larsson is unfortunately injured which has resulted in the unholy alliance between Lars Ekman and Fredrik Axegård, whose partner Alex Flores also is injured.
At ÖTILLÖ; The Swimrun World Championship 2018, Fredrik Axegård and Alex Flores smashed the course record by 19 minutes with a time of 7:39:25, and Lars finished second with his brother Jonas. In 2019, they finished second and third respectively.
SLM: What can we expect from your team ARKswimrun1 on Sunday?
Fredrik Axegård: I am very excited to start competing again as I love to race. I think Lars and I will do a fast race. Over the last few years, we have usually ended up on the podium but with different teams. Everything has gone according to plan training-wise. As we live quite far from each other we have not been able to train together, but as we have competed a lot side by side and know each other, I don’t think that’s a problem at all.
Lars Ekman: It has been harder to swim train since the only pool in Karlskrona has been closed. This has forced me to start the outdoor season a bit earlier – and colder! – then usual. Maybe without Covid, Fredrik and I would have had the chance to train together before Utö, but it will be our first swimrun session together and we are excited to compete again!
We hope to be up in the front competing for the podium like we have been for the last couple of years. But we know that it will be a tough race, as always at Utö, with a lot of good teams that are eager to race again.
SLM: How did you mentally cope with maintaining a level of fitness during restrictions?
FA: It was difficult last year since it seemed unlikely there were going to be any races. I trained a lot anyway but not as I usually do. This year has been different in a positive way. When the vaccine came it was with the big goal: ÖTILLÖ, The Swimrun World Championship in September!
LE: I enjoy training even without a clear goal or a race in mind. You feel better when you train and since running and training outdoors has been freely available, maintaining a general level of fitness has not suffered due to Covid. I have also been eager to race again and to be in good shape for when the chance came to get back on track.
SLM: What are your plans for swimrun events this year?
FA: It is Utö and ÖTILLÖ, The Swimrun World Championship with Lars but as I love to race, I am sure there will be a lot more.
LE: ÖTILLÖ, The Swimrun World Championship is the big goal for the season. My brother Jonas and I plan to do Ångaloppet and maybe some shorter races this season.
SLM: How has the sport and level of competition changed since you won the World Championship in 2018?
FA: The level is tougher but not by much overall. I think it’s time for rejuvenation. A lot of young guns are showing up and they are very fast so I hope Lars and I can keep them behind us this year. We will have to see.
What can we expect to see this weekend?
SLM: Looking at the start list for the World Series race on Sunday it is apparent that the competition will be very tough. In the Mens category the current World Champions are toeing the line. Pontus & George say they are fitter than ever. We have several World Series winners and podium racers lining up for some big racing. Nicolas Remires, Francesc Lanuza, Adriel Young, Max Andersson, Hugo Tormento and more. The list can be made long.
In the Mixed category it will be an equal hornets nest with many of the top racers in the world. Here, Kenny and Amanda who won in 2019 are not racing so the title of being the Utö Champion is up for grabs.
In the Womens category the winners from 2019 Desirée and Anna are back, they will also have to fend off a very strong group of womens teams that will push to the end. It will be extremely exciting racing over the weekend on this completely new course.
May you all enjoy the best of racing, may you all be safe and may the best men and women win!
By Nancy Heslin