Petter Alexis Askergren, aka Petter, is a chart-topping Swedish rap artist from Stockholm, credited with launching the hip-hop boom in Sweden in the late 1990s.
The 43-year-old owns his own record label Bananrepubliken (The Banana Republic) and together with his wife Michaela, he created Koster Swimrun in 2015.
The swimrun takes place in October in Koster national park on the Swedish west coast, south of the Norwegian border, which is only accessible by ferry from Strömstad. Fifty teams are selected, with an even number of male and female racers, during the application process, and the event ends with, naturally, a musical blowout party.
SLM: You studied art history at Uppsala University but went on to become one of Sweden’s leading hip-hop artists, touring all the time. How did you end up doing sports?
PAA: I grew up in a family that valued culture over sports. I started working out and focusing on strength around 2003, to feel better and to have a healthier lifestyle after being on the road a lot. After that, I began to try new stuff, first running, then running on trails and after a while, swimming.
SLM: How did you transition into swimrunning?
PAA: It came naturally when I was persuaded to do ÖTILLÖ and realised what a fun challenge it was. After that, I signed up for a lot of different swimruns in Sweden, which made me fall in love with the sport. This year I’m not competing as much but I’m still in love with it.
SLM: How did you meet ÖTILLÖ co-founder Michael Lemmel?
PAA: We got to know each other after an Utö swimrun. He quickly became a good friend and we have shared a lot of fun experiences together. I also work with him on the Koster Swimrun, a bit of an odd but passionate swimrun. In one way, it’s not at all like other swimruns but at the same time it has a great impact on the swimrun world.
I have deep respect for the way Michael Lemmel and Mats Skott handle the races they’re a part of, for example, their take on safety.
SLM: Has swimrun become a lifestyle?
PAA: For me yes, but maybe not for everyone. People try swimrun for different reasons, which is part of the charm of the sport, and also why it’s growing enormously. Some want to win and race and some want simply to try, discover and participate.
For me, swimrun is an adventure and a feeling of knowing what my body can do, that it can take me from one point to another. It’s also about meeting and respecting nature.
I never compete even though I’m participating in the race, trying to get the best result I can together with my partner.
I race with lots of different partners and one really nice thing with swim run is that it’s a sport where men and women compete together.
SLM: In addition to touring around three months across the year, you also talk to young people about the importance of reading and writing. As a popular musician, do you feel the need to give back to the community?
PAA: Absolutely, I don’t think I can save society with one song but I have a voice that I can use to contribute to a better society and a better world. I do that using my own moral compass that is based on keywords like empathy and warmth between people, as well as taking care of the planet at the same time.
SLM: You are pretty into wine, we understand.
PAA: I think that music is the most fun thing in life, and after music comes wine, which is a great passion for me.
Wine is like music in some ways, it changes and you find new paths, with new styles and tastes, all the time.
I import fine wine that I sell to restaurants but I also have my own wine brand, P-Lex, that builds on wider wines in different styles.
SLM: Do you have favourite tracks that you listen to when you run?
PAA: I have a lot of favourite music to run to but sometimes I run without any music because I enjoy hearing my breathing and feeling nature. I also like running with someone, it’s a nice and healthy way to socialise.
Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue #3 (July 2017)