In #4 2017, Swimrun Life Magazine

ÖTILLÖ SWIMRUN events truly are some of the best places to meet athletes, race directors, sponsors and partners who share passion and vision.

The history of HEAD SWIMMING in SWIMRUN is also a journey powered by passion and vision. It all started one Saturday morning in 2012, when Chris Floden, Chairman of HEAD SWIMMING Nordic CBM, based in Nacka, Sweden, called his HEAD colleague Stefan Sponer to chat about the possibility of putting a long vertical zipper on the front side of the latest HEAD wetsuit, the TRICOMP12.

Sponer, a former high-performance triathlete and openwater-swimmer, questioned the idea, but as Floden talked about this new sport – “SWIMRUN” – Sweden, and so on, Sponer’s curiosity was piqued.

“Yes, do it, this sounds huge. Keep us up to speed!” was his answer.

SWIMRUN was a return to nature, using two elementary sport disciplines – swimming and running – combined in endless sequence. In the water, out of the water, running with wetsuits, swimming with shoes … it sounded borderline crazy but intriguing nevertheless.

This was SWIMRUN, a new sport that HEAD was willing to invest in to become a serious player. HEAD, the leading brand in winter and racket sport. HEAD with the knowledge of Mares, the leading brand in scuba diving. This was the perfect base for a new “land and water sport.”

A few months later, the HEAD SWIMMING R&D team, which is located on the beautiful Liguria coastline in Rapallo, Italy, was brought up-to-date about this new Nordic sport, which was gaining more and more fans in Sweden.

At the end of 2012, Chris Floden visited Rapallo with his SWIMRUN consultant and asked the team to develop a specific SWIMRUN suit, with soft material in the crotch area, long vertical zippers in the front and back, a safety whistle on the front, and special taped seams inside for individual cutting of the arms and legs.

“Yes, we can do it,” was the answer. As a result, HEAD SWIMRUN BASE and HEAD SWIMRUN ROUGH, the world’s very first authentic SWIMRUN wetsuits were born.

SWIMRUN became increasingly important for the Italian R&D team, even though it was still very much a Swedish sport. Introduced by Swedish HEAD SWIMMING colleagues, new products specially-made for SWIMRUN were developed, and in the first two years exclusively produced by HEAD SWIMMING Nordic.

The knowledge of the best SWIMRUN athletes were always taken into account; requests about technical feasibility, double-checked product-by-product, were tested and approved. The team at HEAD SWIMMING were impressed with the dynamics of SWIMRUN and the vision to play a strong role in this new adventure/nature sport, which was growing by the day.

Additional HEAD products like the innovative TIGER goggles made out of super soft LIQUIDSKIN Silicone, lighter and more buoyant pullbuoys, neoprene accessories such as gloves, headbands and caps, and finally, calf sleeves, completed the SWIMRUN kit.

In 2014, the idea to create the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Series became a reality and HEAD was the first partner to take a chance and sign a long-term contract with ÖTILLÖ.

The endless and emotional vision of Michael Lemmel and Mats Skott (co-founders of SWIMRUN) along with the professional marketing and economic approach of Christian Pirzer and Dominic Leu (Swimrun AG) impressed the HEAD SWIMMING team and their collaboration was ready to begin.

The ever-improving product line has expanded every year, and in 2016, the power of the HEAD athletes was impressively visible at the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship, with 8 out of 9 podium positions wearing the HEAD SWIMRUN AERO.

This achievement is based on “innovation not imitation”, one of HEAD SWIMMING’s fundamental philosophies. New products should be “genuine” new products and not just adapted versions with minor changes. The key to HEAD SWIMRUN equipment is its reliability. If athletes are out on the race course, out at sea or on the trail, the worst-case scenario, in terms of performance, is to have unexpected issues with the equipment.

2017 was another great year for SWIMRUN worldwide. More and more countries discovered this awesome sport, and more and more races took place, while the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Series is the shining light leading this huge movement.

The future of SWIMRUN is full of possibilities. SWIMRUN will change the world of sport, bring people closer together with nature and increase the respect of the wild, sometimes chaotic, landscapes.

SWIMRUN races will keep their own distinct feel. Even as athletes get faster, organisations become more professional, and many new people sign-up, the community will remain unique: racing but caring about an opponent’s wellbeing or chatting along the course but passing other teams, as we search for new ideas that will offer greater comfort and test these products (sometimes handmade prototypes on race day!). And, of course, there will always be a sizeable number of teams at a SWIMRUN start because SAFTEY FIRST is the golden rule.

Unique races in unique places. Passion and compassion. Interdependence and solidarity.

These are basics for SWIMRUN athletes and all those linked to this fantastic sport.

HEAD SWIMMING is thankful to be a part of this new sport and to be in touch with so many people sharing the same spirit and values.

#WEareSWIMRUN, more than just a hashtag. There is no “one” in SWIMRUN, but together #WEareSWIMRUN.

Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue #4 (October 2017)

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