SLM: Fredrik Axegård and Alex Flores, you are the new ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Champions. Tell us about race day on September 3rd and your strategy.
AF: As we are good swimmers, our strategy was to be one of the leading teams out of the first swim and to stay with the front group no matter what. It all played out as we imagined except at Runmarö, our team and the Ekman brothers, Sailfish Team Bröderna Bäver, gained a few seconds gap over the second group of five teams. We held a good pace and helped each other the entire day, both in the water and on the run sections. We are evenly skilled in both disciplines and this is one of our strengths as a team.
SLM: With Bröderna Bäver and Team Ark Swimrun/HUUB (Oscar Olsson and Adriel Young) trailing mere seconds behind at times, you must have had to keep the pressure on both physically and mentally throughout the 75k race. At what point did you realise you were going to win?
FA: We actually felt very strong all the way to Ornö and on the 20k run. We kept a fast and consistent pace but we weren’t sure we were going to win until that last kilometre on Utö. We were so sore and so tired but we knew that those two teams were also struggling.
SLM: This is a first win for Team SportOffice. You’re both 41, what’s your sport background?
AF: We are swimmers and competed at the Swedish Nationals until we were 20. After that we did triathlons and some running.
SLM: You did your first swimrun at Utö in 2016. How did you guys discover the sport?
FA: It was just a coincidence. Four years ago, I ran into Alex at a pool where we both took our children and we recognised each other from back in the day. As we are strong swimmers and decent runners, some buddies who’d tried swimrun thought we should give it a go. I asked if we should team up for a competition and the rest, as they say, is history.
AF: We train a lot, but not as much as I imagine as the other top teams. We both work a great deal and have big families so we have to train smart, maybe 7 to 20 hours a week – 3 to 5 swimming sessions and anywhere between 10k to 50k. Our biggest worry at ÖTILLÖ was Ornö and how tired we’d be by that point …
SLM: You have now completed the World Championship race three times. In 2016, as Team Runfast77 you finished 3rd (8:16:49) and last year you finished 5th (8:37:52). After an incredible victory this year setting a new course record, how did you celebrate?
AF: We celebrated over a beer with our families and all the other amazing swimrunners who’d competed.
SLM: What are your swimrun plans?
FA: To compete in the ÖTILLÖ World Series – we will be at 1000 Lakes and Cannes this year – and, of course, to defend our title at the 2019 ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship. By Nancy Heslin
Watch live the ÖTILLÖ World Series 1000 Lakes on Sunday September 30. If you’re new to swimrun or want to try the sport, see the new Solo option, available only for ÖTILLÖ Sprint and Experience distance races.
ARTICLE FIRST PUBLISHED IN SWIMRUN LIFE MAGAZINE ISSUE #8 (SEPTEMBER 2018).