ÖTILLÖ women take off
By Nancy Heslin
It’s that time of year. The ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship. For some racers, it’s a bucket-list experience just to be at the start of the punishing 75-kilometre course; for the elite, the 46 transitions over 24 islands will test their training and mental preparation over the past year right to the Finish Line.
“ÖTILLÖ 2019 will be the tightest racing to date,” assures co-founder and co-director Michael Lemmel.“It’ll be hard to predict the outcome and personally I can’t wait to see how it develops!”
One thing is for certain, there will be new world champions in the Women’s division, a field that has exploded 1045% from 103 racers to 1079 over 2014 to 2018 (30% alone from 2017-18) at ÖTILLÖ events.
With four-time Women’s and one-time Mixed WC Annika Ericsson and three-time WC Kristin Larsson not defending their title this year (Kristin gave birth to her second son last month), it will be a tight match between favourites Fanny Danckwardt and Desirée Andersson, and Susie Moonan and Anna Hellström, all members of Team Envol, the international swimrun club founded by Nicolas Remires in 2017 that now has close to 100 members.
Fanny (above right with Desirée) acknowledges the division is slowly becoming more competitive but, together with her WILD Swimrun for women co-founder Maria Rohman, she is trying to get more women at the start.
“Compared to last year – not a top performance due to an injury that I allowed to get to me mentally – I feel more relaxed and in a stronger mental and physical shape,” says Fanny, who has been preoccupied with her recent wedding and a new job at Race.se.
For Desirée, “Since last year’s race, I’ve had this competition as a goal for my training. I’m more ready and relaxed then last time. And it is such a huge bonus to have Fanny in Stockholm this long before the race this time.”
Unlike 2018, the duo has not competed much together this season. “I feel we have become even better friends this year and we’ve had much more opportunity to train together, and get to know each other more outside of swimrun,” shares Fanny.
Desirée agrees. “We have strengthened our teamwork by building up a closer friendship. And it’s exactly the same in our swimming careers to train with and compete against our friends, like Anna and Susie.”
“Anna and Susie are both very strong athletes and I respect them tremendously,” Fanny admits. “We don’t prepare any differently because of another opponent. It is an advantage for all of us to be in the same Team Envol. We are rivals on the course, but celebrate as friends afterwards no matter what the outcome is. I think for the spectators it will be an exciting battle to watch between us four!”
Anna and Susie (above) have raced all ÖTILLÖ events together except Engadin. “We are very excited that it´s finally time for our biggest race this year, we have been longing for ÖTILLÖ since we qualified in Cannes last October,” says Anna. “Even though we don’t live close, the training has been going really well and we are injury-free.”
The pair became friends over a shared passion for triathlon in 2014, and share similar backgrounds, both coming from elite careers: Susie from swimming and Anna from showjumping. They joined Team Envol this season.
“Since we are good friends with Fanny and Desirée, the motivation is trying to race hard together rather than race ‘against’ each other,” Anna, a former show jumper, explains. “It’s thanks to our training together that we’ve helped each other become stronger and better athletes, and we are friends that support each other before, during and after the race.
“Even if we will race hard to be the first team to cross the Finish Line, we are all one team in the end.”