Swimrun Life #6 2018 – A word from the editor

Mar 13, 2018

Scrolling through Instagram during winter months, I am blown away by the proud posts of swimrunners at the pool showing hand-scribbled drills and goggle-imprinted faces. Such dedication.

I haven’t dipped a toe into a swimming pool in three years, even though both Nice and Monaco have first-rate 50-m indoor pools, since I discovered winter open water swimming in the Mediterranean. Although my speed probably hasn’t improved as a result, the payoff is my alone time with nature.

“The sea is alive, expansive; a pool is dead and confining. The sea is freedom. There is nothing in a pool: no current, no tide, no waves, and most of all, no history,” Gillian Best writes exquisitely in “The Last Wave”, a story about a woman who swam the English Channel.

According to Dover.uk, 36.8% of swimmers who crossed the English Channel have been female. In 1926, Gertrude Ederle, 20, was the first woman to do it. In only her second attempt, she crossed in 14 hours 39 minutes – 2h29 faster than any of the five men who had completed the task before her.

“People said women couldn’t swim the Channel, but I proved they could,” Gertie said.

The 1926 NY Daily News newspaper reported:
“During her twelfth hour at sea, Burgess, her trainer, had become so concerned by unfavourable winds that he called to her, ‘Gertie, you must come out!’ The swimmer lifted her head from the choppy waters and replied, ‘What for?’”

The sea is alive, expansive; a pool is dead and confining. The sea is freedom.

This evokes a chuckle from my husband, who in 2012 helped me transition from the pool to the open water as I was preparing for my first Ironman 70.3. I was terrified of jellyfish, even hyperventilating at times when I’d mistake my own air bubbles for a gelatinous blob. If I did see a jelly, and I’m not proud of this, I’d push my husband towards it as a moving target.

These days, across the year, I’m in the sea at least three times a week, covering between 15 and 35km. And yes, I’ve survived my worst-case scenario: I’ve been stung a number of times by jellyfish.

Facing fear in the open water is something Diana Nyad, who at 64 was the first woman to cross 180 km from Cuba to Florida (in 55 hours!), knows all about. In her mesmerising autobiography, “Find a Way”, the swimming legend shares: “I don’t believe I was genetically equipped to override the heinous pain of those box jellyfish stings. I was shocked when they hit. But I had set my will ahead of time. It was deliberate, conscious resolve that allowed me to withstand that monstrous pain, or any pain I would encounter.”

Not to say that open water swimming has to be painful! In fact, swim coach Eva Fridman offers some advice this issue on getting out of the pool and into the sea, and getting over the initial anxiety.

Diana and Gertie would have made a kick-ass swimrun team. Forget #metoo or #timesup; these two icons have shown us that will has no gender – #whatfor


Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue #6 (March 2018)

More magazine articles

How do you rank on Swimrun Watch?

For Andreas Ribbefjord, what started out as a bunch of spreadsheets quickly transitioned into a small application called Swimrun Watch.

Thule Crew sweep 2018 ÖTILLÖ season to win €33,000

Helena Karaskova Erbenova and Martin Flinta took first place at 1000 Lakes last weekend. Wearing the Golden Bib for the Mixed Division, it was the pair’s sixth consecutive ÖTILLÖ swimrun win – a streak that took them across the entire 2018 season and led them to the €33,000 pot of gold.

ÖTILLÖ’s new World Champs get ready for 1000 Lakes

Some people break records, others shatter them. That’s exactly what Fredrik Axegård and Alex Flores did when they finished the 2018 ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship in a time of 7:39:25, 19 minutes faster than last year. As Team SportOffice heads to 1000 Lakes in Germany this weekend, they talk to SLM about race day and tactics.

Confessions of a swimrunrunner: first time at ÖTILLÖ

To non-Swedes, the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship seems like a way the natives spend a day outdoors frolicking with friends before the long dark winter sets in. But for those of us not born in the country that bares a yellow Nordic cross on a field of blue, ÖTILLÖ – 75 km that cross 26 islands, known as one of the toughest endurance races in the world – is daunting. Here’s what teams racing the WC for the first time have to say.

No training? No problem, ÖTILLÖ still needs you!

Volunteerism may be the fastest growing trend in global tourism, but you don’t have to travel half way across the world to give back: you can make an impact at a local level and swimrun is a cool place to start.

The rise of the swimrun Sprint

When ÖTILLÖ launched the Engadin Sprint three years ago, 19 teams signed up. Last week, the compact alpine swimrun attracted 100 teams representing 19 nationalities. Best friends, fathers and sons, husbands and wives – you name it – swimrunners are loving the shorter distance “unique race in a unique place” that ÖTILLÖ has become famous for.

International partners
  • Head
  • Campz Addnature
  • Garmin
  • Vivo Barefoot
  • Mr Green