I find myself waking up extra early on Sunday mornings with the anticipation of a blissfully long swimrun training day ahead of me. Instead, I put on an ÖTILLÖ cap and stare fondly at my paddles with this year’s race distances scribbled across them.
Race days are not all I’m yearning for. It’s the people, the ÖTILLÖ community that I miss.
I have the privilege of working alongside the ÖTILLÖ team, as well as competing in ÖTILLÖ events (or in my case, trying to cross the Finish Line). This allows me to not only experience the swimrun adventure but also lend a helping hand behind the scenes to the superb ÖTILLÖ logistics team.
Having spent a full year on the 2017 ÖTILLÖ circuit, I would return home each race weekend a little out of sorts. I couldn’t put my finger on it: after Hvar in April, I thought I was just tired. Then the Isles of Scilly in June, all those incredible conversations at sunset along the Mermaid wall, I found a contrasting quietness coming back to reality. It wasn’t until July, after Engadin, that I realised, in fact, after each event I was homesick, not for a specific place, but for ÖTILLÖ. This melancholy really came to light after the World Championship weekend in September.
No, I don’t need to “get a life”. I have a life, and an extraordinary one at that. Living in the sunshine of Nice and having an exceptional job in Monaco, my personal world is full of love, fulfilment and unbelievable opportunities that every day I’m grateful for.
But ÖTILLÖ, with such a strong connection and respect for nature and people, has awakened something within me that I didn’t even know I needed: a lifestyle.
So, with seven months between ÖTILLÖ 1000 Lakes and Hvar, my withdrawal is gradually being eased by a rising swimrun movement in my neck of the woods. People stop my husband and I as we swimrun along the Promenade des Anglais and ask about our shoes and equipment; others cycle alongside us chanting “swimrun”. Most encouraging is the number of direct enquiries I’ve been receiving from women who want to try the sport.
I wholeheartedly believe swimrun is a good match for women. Whatever your shape or size, whatever your level of sport, whatever your age, there is a supportive sisterhood waiting to be discovered in swimrun, both in the Women’s and Mixed divisions.
If you’re looking for motivation, look no further than team Swimrun4fun – Maria Möller and Josefine Hult, who have done both Sprint and full distance races. These two friends (both moms) started training at the ages of 34 and 37 and, three years later, qualified for the 2017 ÖTILLÖ World Championship. As they share in an article this issue, “Our first competition was a fun experience. We laughed a lot and fought through what felt like an incredibly long 21k race at the time. The result didn’t matter; we just wanted to get through. During that first race we already felt the amazing ‘swimrun spirit’ that the sport is known for. All the people we met along the course were happy, helpful and positive. We were totally hooked!”
So ladies, why not give swimrun a go? Who knows, maybe next year we can be homesick for ÖTILLÖ together.
NANCY HESLIN, EDITOR
Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue #5 (December 2017)