On the record: George Bjälkemo and Pontus Lindberg
By Magnus Ormestad
With backgrounds in long distance triathlon, George Bjälkemo and Pontus Lindberg teamed up for swimrun and won ÖTILLÖ Utö last year. The pair really embrace the team aspect of the sport and have fun out on the course as Team Garmin. The clinched first place this weekend at ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Hvar and will defend their Utö title on May 20th.
ÖÖ: Who are you guys and what do you do when you are not wearing neoprene?
G&P: When we’re not training in neoprene, we wear lycra … George is a lawyer in the public sector with a focus on construction and environmental issues. Pontus is an engineer working as a Project Manager for capital investments in the pharmaceutical business.
ÖÖ: When did the 2017 swimrun season end for you guys?
G&P: We were invited to race Swimrun Lanzarote on November 25, and that looked spectacular. It would have potentially been our last race but as George and his wife were expecting another baby at the beginning of December (she was born on the 12th!), we decided to call it off.
ÖÖ: You won Utö last year with a time of 4:11:22, beating the Ekman brothers by over 3 minutes. What are the highs or lows from 2017 that you want to share with us?
G&P: Definitely ÖTILLÖ Utö was a great race for us. It is such a fun course with a lot of transitions and it’s really made for a fast pace. ÖTILLÖ Hvar was a low point, as we had a lot of issues with our equipment, which made it very frustrating.
ÖÖ: Could you give a short summary of your background in sports? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
G&P: We both have a background in long distance triathlon at a professional level. Being good swimmers and runners, and on fairly the same level, we don’t have any clear weaknesses as a team in that respect. However, we still lack experience and more technical skills on the trails.
ÖÖ: How did you guys get into swimrun?
G&P: We’ve been on a lot of training camps together as part of the national triathlon team and through out those long bike rides, we would kid around about having a go at the ÖTILLÖ World Champs at some point. As it turned out, after racing together at 2016 ÖTILLÖ 1000 Lakes and liking it, 2017 seemed like the perfect year to do just that. (Note: George and Pontus, aka Team Terrible Tuesdays Triathlon, won the first ÖTILLÖ Swimrun 1000 Lakes with a time of 4:42:02 in very tough conditions.)
ÖÖ: What has made you stick with the whole swimrun scene?
G&P: Coming from a truly individual sport as triathlon, it’s a lot of fun racing as a team. There is also an appeal to race A-to-B type of courses.
ÖÖ: Do you have any hints or hacks that you want to share with the less experienced swimrunners who are already racing or are curious to give it a go?
G&P: Use a tether line to even out differences within the team. Don’t hesitate to carry additional energy, it’s usually worth it.
ÖÖ: You are racing in Hvar this weekend and Utö is only 6 weeks away on May 20th. What’s the strategy to maintain your title?
G&P: Besides winning it would be fun to set a better course time. That specific course is also very good if you want to try out new gear and try other tactics. We will see after Hvar how we will approach it.
Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue #7 (May 2018)