ÖTILLÖ’s new World Champs get ready for 1000 Lakes

Sep 25, 2018

Jakob Edholm

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.

Jakob Edholm

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).

More magazine articles

Talkin’ bout an evolution

Swimrun continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Not only has the sport crossed over to the endurance community but new brands, new athletes and new races (and on non-frozen continents!) are coming on board. Look for our new 5-7k Experience distance and the possibility to race Solo.

Swimrun’s ARK of success

The 2017 ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship was one for the history books. Against all odds, including disorientating waves and relentless winds that toyed with racers throughout the day, a new sub-8 hours course record was set. Off the course, the buzz was all about the new ARK wetsuit prototype worn by two of the first-place teams.

Thule Crew sweep 2018 ÖTILLÖ season to win €33,000

Helena Karaskova Erbenova and Martin Flinta took first place at 1000 Lakes last weekend. Wearing the Golden Bib for the Mixed Division, it was the pair’s sixth consecutive ÖTILLÖ swimrun win – a streak that took them across the entire 2018 season and led them to the €33,000 pot of gold.

Confessions of a swimrunrunner: first time at ÖTILLÖ

To non-Swedes, the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship seems like a way the natives spend a day outdoors frolicking with friends before the long dark winter sets in. But for those of us not born in the country that bares a yellow Nordic cross on a field of blue, ÖTILLÖ – 75 km that cross 26 islands, known as one of the toughest endurance races in the world – is daunting. Here’s what teams racing the WC for the first time have to say.

International partners
  • Vivo Barefoot
  • ARK Swimrun
  • Mr Green