Swimrun is a sport where you move through nature in constant motion. Swimming through bodies of water and running between them.
Swimrun started with the now famous bet in 2003. The owner of Utö Värdshus Anders Malm and his friend Janne Lindberg were challenged by the Andersson brothers. The first team to Sandhamn wins. The rules? To stop at the four restaurants along the way, that the second team had to drink what the first team had ordered. The last team to Sandhamn picks up the bill. The first time it took them over 26 hours to complete the challenge.
In 2005, Michael Lemmel and Mats Skott were asked if they could make a commercial race out of this crazy challenge. Coming from adventure racing, they saw the potential and created the race – ÖTILLÖ (Island to island in Swedish). The first race, in 2006 saw only nine starting teams, only two teams finished.
Simply put, swimrun is a sport where you transition between swimming and running multiple times, without stopping. You swim with your shoes on, and you run in your wetsuit.
During the first years of ÖTILLÖ, the teams stopped and changed between their running gear and swimming gear. After these years of learning, the athletes concluded that to be able to reach the finish line, they had to be in constant motion. They started to, what it is now called, swimrun.
What is it? This is swimrun
What had been known simply as ÖTILLÖ started to grow, and in 2012 the first races outside of the ÖTILLÖ-organization saw the light of day. With that, what had simply been called ÖTILLÖ needed a name.
Erika Rosenbaum, an ÖTILLÖ, The Swimrun World Championship podium athlete came up with the name Swimrun. She asked Michael and Mats if it was ok if she used the name to describe the activity, they answered of course and if it was ok for them to use the name too. That was the beginning of the term swimrun and a way for the activity to become a sport.
In 2013, we saw that the interest grew rapidly, and we wanted to be able to supply the experience and adventure of swimrun to more people.
That’s when we started our first race of what later came to be one of our most popular races in the Swimrun World Series – at the beginning we called it Utö Swimrun.
Utö was perfect, it is the birthplace of the sport, and with its fantastic scenery, it’s a small version of the World Championship course. With a race in May the season in Sweden could be prolonged.
Until the summer of 2014 swimrun had been a swedish phenomenon. ÖTILLÖ decided to take the sport outside of Sweden and started the now iconic ÖTILLÖ Engadin. On the same day that Rockman had its first race, which was produced by some ÖTILLÖ racers. These were the two first races outside of Sweden and the beginning of the international swimrun movement.
We created a race in the Engadin valley in the Swiss Alps. Famous for its spectacular nature. In July, when we are in Engadin for the race, the summer is in full bloom and the lakes are crystal clear. With the pristine lakes and great trails for running. This was something new in the swimrun world. A fantastic place that needs to be experienced.
– Mats Skott, Race Director ÖTILLÖ.
From there, we have worked our hardest to bring the sport, and our way of exploring nature to Croatia, France, Germany, the UK, Malta and the US. Creating what is now the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Series.
– Michael Lemmel, Race Director ÖTILLÖ
Together with the races in the World Series, we also offer Sprint and Experience distance races. This way we can provide a race and an experience for everyone, regardless of what you are looking for and how fit you are.
2020 marked the 15th anniversary of ÖTILLÖ, The Swimrun World Championship. The journey has so far been spectacular, we hope that you tag along for the ride for the next fifteen years!
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