Meet a World Champion: Kristin Larsson
By Josefine Ås
As one of swimrun’s most exceptional athletes, Kristin Larsson is one of a kind, having won six swimrun races in 2016. She took gold while crushing the Women’s course record at the ÖTILLÖ World Championships with Annika Ericsson. At ÖTILLÖ Engadin she won overall and, again, broke the course record with her partner Daniel Hansson. Together they also won the mixed category at ÖTILLÖ Utö. With an impressive CV of multisport and trail running races, Kristin is a very strong runner, making her the perfect partner at ÖTILLÖ for Annika Ericsson, who is a great swimmer.
Kristin’s incredible force and stamina could be put down to cross-country skiing in the very north of Sweden during childhood. She is a mother to a three-year-old son but motherhood has not stopped her. It seems to have made her stronger than ever.
SLM: Why do you swimrun?
Kristin: I like swimrun because of the simplicity. I don’t need more gear than I can carry with me and it’s a great feeling of freedom to move fast over land and sea.
SLM: What is the secret behind your success?
Kristin: I race with strong teammates, and we have good team work. Also I’m good at taking care of myself and refuelling during a race.
Don’t complicate training too much. Just get out in the forest, enjoy the nature and run and swim.
SLM: You just seem to get stronger. How has your training, racing and motivation changed since you had your son?
Kristin: Competitions are great fun and I love to race but I think it’s important to keep your distance and not become too obsessed. Having a son made me realise that racing and competitions aren’t everything.
SLM: A few tips on how to be a better swimrunner?
Kristin: Don’t complicate training too much. Just get out in the forest, enjoy the nature and run and swim.
SLM: Tips to other parents who both train and race hard?
Kristin: Combine long distance training with family time. I bring both my husband and my son on my long distance runs.
Use commuting time as training time – by bike or feet if it is possible.
It’s always possible to find time for training, but it might be harder to find time for rest and recover, so make plan for that, too.
Don’t forget that the day isn’t over just because you’ve done your hard training session. Parents can’t rest on the couch in between training and might need to save some energy for the family.
SLM: You have done a few races with your life partner Daniel Hansson. How is it to race as a couple?
Kristin: When Daniel and I met, we were racing against each other, in different teams. Later we started racing together as a team. It’s easier to race with someone you know very well as you know how to help each other. On the other hand, I like to train and race with other people also. It’s inspiring to learn new things from other athletes.
SLM: What has been your hardest challenge in swimrun?
Kristin: To develop my swimming. I love to train outside in the nature and during summer time I can swim every day in “our” little lake but, during 8 months of the year, most of the swimming sessions are done indoors in public swimming pools. For someone who thinks running alone in the dark forest with a headlamp is one of the best training sessions one can have, it requires motivation to jump into the crowded swimming pool.
SLM: What has been your strongest moment in swimrun?
Kristin: There are moments in all the races that are memorable for me. It’s the combination of beautiful terrain and physical performance that attracts me. My race with Sam Clark during the Rockman Swimrun was one of my strongest performances but I’m also extremely happy with Daniel and our overall victory and course record in ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Engadin.
SLM: Could you describe the teamwork aspect of swimrun? The benefits and challenges and what it takes to have it work at its best!
Kristin: Put the team effort first, and not your individual performance. Racing with a strong teammate helps me to push myself a few steps further. I’ve been lucky to race with experienced teammates in whom I trust.
SLM: What are your plans and goals for 2017?
Kristin: I’m looking forward to racing in some new locations but also to go back to some of my favourite spots, like ÖTILLÖ Engadin and ÖTILLÖ Utö. I expect the competition to become harder as more athletes are focusing on the sport and I think that the ÖTILLÖ World Championship will be very exciting this year.
Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue # 2 (Apr/May 2017)