These days there’s a handful of brands that make swimrun-specific wetsuits with front zipper, floatation panels, and an anatomic fit for running. HEAD was the first to invest in swimrun and continues to offer the biggest choice of models for both men and women. If you’re hesitating on size, visit the Campz tent at any of the ÖTILLÖ races and take one for a test drive.
The first question newcomers to the sport ask is: “What do you wear on your feet?” You need a trail running shoe that drains quickly and keeps its shape when wet. A good grip on wet and slippery surfaces is a must. In 2017, several swimrun shoes were launched, including ÖTILLÖ’s collaboration with Vivobarefoot, which shares swimrun’s sport ethics.
In the Baltic Sea, you can get away with not wearing goggles, and there are plenty of teams who don’t, in the quest for quicker transitions. However, most teams prefer to use them – and in Croatia’s salty Adriatic sea you really have no choice. If you wear contact lenses, consider tucking an extra pair of goggles in a pouch.
Regardless, try different models, like the HEAD Tiger Liquid Skin, to see what’s most durable and comfortable – remember you’ll be wearing these around your head for three or five hours or longer.
The majority of teams are tethered during various parts of the race course. Use a short, non-elasticised cord, maximum 3 metres.
Like the 2017 ÖTILLÖ Women’s WC Annika Ericson, more and more stronger swimrunners are following a minimalistic approach to the sport to be as fast and smooth in the transitions as possible, they choose not to wear paddles at all. But for the rest of us, paddles are a helpful piece of equipment.
This is the beauty of swimrun. As every racer has different strengths and weaknesses, there is still lots of experimenting going on, with some people building their own pull buoys – or other flotation devices – and some are not using them at all. The purpose of the pull buoy is to compensate for the drag of wearing shoes while swimming, which as Mikael Rosén, the Rain Man of swimming says, could cost a swimrunner more than 10 seconds per 100 metres.
As most racers cut their wetsuits (too warm to run in a long wetsuit); they need to compensate for warmth and support for the lower legs. You also see people adding shin floaters – what Thomas Schreven refers to as “Super compensators”™– underneath the compression sock for extra buoyancy. ÖTILLÖ partners with Gococo, who make awesome wool compression socks.
Wear either a thin Merino long-sleeve wool shirt underneath your wetsuit or, if weather permits, a triathlon tank top, which also helps minimize chafing.
Racers want to know their pace and distances during a race, and to be able to analyse the data afterwards. Since 2016, you can use the Swimrun App, available on Garmin Fenix3 and Garmin Fenix5.
Birgit Baecker, Marketing Communications Manager EMEA, Outdoor at Garmin International, explains how the app works.
Silicone caps are usually provided to racers, which are used for warmth but also to be visible in the water, which is a big safety issue. They also hold in place your earplugs – a necessity for cold-water swimming. For cold-water swims, pick up a 3-mm neoprene cap or bandana to wear under your swim cap.