Our 2019 challenge: bring a friend

Feb 15, 2019

By Michael Lemmel

There are moments when we are truly overcome.

For many years, we were just an obscure race that people whispered about in both awe and fear. This crazy thing called ÖTILLÖ that started in 2006.

By 2012, a few similar events started popping up in Sweden – Ångaloppet, Öloppet, and Amfibiemannen – and around the same time, the sport was given a name: swimrun.

At the start of our 14th season, I see how far we have travelled together.

We now have participants from more than 50 nations taking part in our events, attracting both young and old, extremely fit and less so, proving that anyone can swimrun.

Swimrun continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Not only has the sport crossed over to the endurance world but we are also starting to see new brands, new athletes and new races on all non-frozen continents becoming part of this growing community.

All ÖTILLÖ race weekends in 2019 will feature the new “Experience” event with a shorter 5-7k distance. We’ve also introduced “Solo” registrations for Experience and Sprint events to make it easier for people to try swimrun and hopefully get hooked.

All by Pierre Mangez

Look at our Golden Bib winners last year, Martin Flinta and Helena Karaskova Erbenova, who are definitely hooked. They won all six consecutive races to earn a €33,000 jackpot even though Helena had never tried a swimrun before Hvar 2018. Huge kudos to her!

We must continue to evolve alongside the sport. We have to constantly think about our safety structure and also how to keep the races fair. For the first time ever in swimrun, we started anti-doping tests at ÖTILLÖ, the Swimrun World Championship in 2018, and we will continue with this. 

Our mission is to keep growing the sport so that it expands into a part of a general training landscape. It does not have to be connected to a race bib. We envision and hope that one day swimrun will become a mainstream sport that children practice at school.

Michael and Mats with ÖTILLÖ Cannes local organisers Philippe Cordero (left) and Laurent Gourmaud. 

You too can help our sport grow by teaming up with a newcomer to explore running and swimming together in new places, whether out in nature or the excitement of an urban swimrun. Show them how warm and friendly our sport is.

To motivate you, we offer a stunning collection of natural racecourses: Hvar, Utö, Isles of Scilly, Engadin, 1000 Lakes, ÖTILLÖ and Cannes – yes, we finally have a race in France after so many years of trying. Each of these races is unique and will challenge you in different ways. Wonder what we can come up with next?

Personally, we both look forward to being out even more in 2019. To swimrun in new places and meeting lots of new people. Hope to see you out there!

Michael Lemmel & Mats Skott
Race Directors ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Series

Article first published February 2019.

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International partners
  • Vivo Barefoot
  • ARK Swimrun
  • Mr Green