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July 10th, 2020

Why Swimrun in the Swiss Alps of the Engadin valley?

In the autumn of 2013 Mats Skott and I started plotting where we should put on the first swimrun race outside of Sweden. We chose the Engadin Valley in Switzerland. – Michael Lemmel/ ÖTILLÖ co-founder

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A look in the rearview mirror

In these early years of swimrun, the organization behind ÖTILLÖ had just organized it’s first “qualifier” on Utö in May 2013, where the sport of swimrun was born.

Our desire to launch the sport in an other environment than the Swedish Archipelago, with the purpose to show that it is possible to swimrun anywhere made us look outside of Sweden.

We love the Alps, and saw that going to a beautiful mountain valley with mountain lakes would be like a photo negative of the Swedish Archipelago. We would not swim between islands but run between lakes.

Mats and I had raced in the Adventure Racing World Championship in 2001 with a start in Engadin. We remebered as exceptionally beautiful. When one of our racers, Staffan Björklund also mentioned the lakes in the valley we were hooked.

This became the first swimrun race outside of Sweden.

The Destination

Silvaplana and the Engadin Valley has lived up to every expectation we had. We are very happy in the village of Silvaplana and no other race has had more images published besides the World Championship. To see racers running in the mountains, in wetsuits, with glaciers as a back drop and with the emerald- colored lakes makes almost dream-like conditions.

The perfect setting for Swimrun.


The valley is right next to the Italian border with access to Milan and the beautiful Lake Como within two hours.

Zurich is the main hub for flights and the perfect Swiss trains that bring you from the airport to more or less anywhere in Switzerland.

The Engadin – the perfect setting for outdoor fans in the words of a local

They summit majestic mountains, fight their way up steep trails, glide with the wind over churning waves or race downhill and around banked turns – the numerous challenges for sports enthusiasts reflect our Alpine region’s stunning versatility.

«And what’s our plan for tomorrow?» That is the big question. A journey to our high valley is always a journey into the unknown. Each day a new episode. Every night a cliffhanger. New seasons a lucky bag filled with possibilities to explore the mountains, forests, rivers or lakes. And there is no need to settle on one sport. Those who love to combine joy with athletic challenges can simply zap from one activity to another and discover our various alpine, water and bike offers on the spur of the moment.

Alpine sport without adrenaline is Disneyland

How gloriously and confidently the mountains that surround our Alpine valley rise into the sky. Exerting their dominance for millions of years. And yet they allow us to have the craziest fun on their peaks, ridges and hillsides! In winter, we speed downhill on or off the wide pistes or trudge through deep snow on our ski tour. In summer, we climb up their rocks, hike or run criss-cross along their mountainsides, or turn into downhill-junkies as we bike down their trails. Athletic adventure(r)s, amidst the Hollywood-style setting of our glaciated high-alpine world.

Our lakes: the perfect playground in any wind or weather

The snow-capped peaks preside over our great lakes that also offer plenty of room for activity: Lake Sils, Lake Silvaplana, Lake Champfèr and Lake St. Moritz are like fluid turquoise. Sometimes calm and smooth as glass, sometimes churning with white capped waves. All year round they offer overwhelming beauty and new ways to enjoy nature. And day after day, the mountains watch us. How we indulge in our love for cross-country skiing across the frozen water surface. How we whizz and glide over the dancing waves with kites, sail boats or surfboards, like multi colored butterflies.

Just let go and enjoy

While the Rhaetian Railway offers you stress-free travel to our high valley and often offers the possibility of stepping out of the station and right onto the slopes or tracks, our picturesque Engadin villages welcome you in hostels, B&Bs, holiday apartments, chalets and luxury hotels. Those who love to stay up in the mountains should check out the authentic charm and warm hospitality of the 11  mountain huts in the region.

There’s room for everyone: for the young & wild, the active families, the professional and the leisure athletes – all who share a deep love for nature. All who find themselves in the midst of the alpine world far away from the mainstream.

There are endless possibilities in the Engadin for outdoor action. In winter and in summer.

Further information:

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