ÖtillÖ | Partner Selection
As a sponsor of the toughest and most rewarding race in the world, ÖtillÖ. We’re always looking to drive the sport to new levels and help to get you involved. With this in mind we teamed up pro Swimrun racer and trainer Nicolas Remires to bring you an 8 part series running you through everything you’ll need to know before you run your first race. Nicolas has over 10 years experience as a Swim Run racer and hosts the official training camps for ÖtillÖ, making him the best man for the job as they’d say. With that in mind we’ll let Nicolas take over from here as he talks you through the history of Swimrun and how to pick your partner.
“Nothing is more beautiful than to share a journey like this with a friend.”
Teamwork, the essence of swimrun
This is the essence of swimrun. From the origins of this sport, in 2006, it’s a team sport for several reasons. When Michael Lemmel and Mats Skott, the founders of the swimrun created the sport, they brought their values of teamwork from multisport racing. In 2017, swimrun is going through a huge expansion. Races and training groups are popping up everywhere around the world. And this is not surprising, people want new experiences where they will feel total freedom. But the best adventures are the ones you share. That’s why doing a swimrun trip or race became so popular with endurance athletes. One of the reoccurring words with the ÖtillÖ race directors or other leaders of swimrun groups is ‘sharing’. In an activity like swimrun, participants are sharing experiences, efforts, happiness, pain… Nothing is more beautiful than to share a journey like this with a friend.
This teamwork is important during your race but also in preparation of the event. Knowing the person who will be on the other side of the rope well, planning the race strategy and learning the course together are key moments that will make the team more optimal.
Today, there are more than 300 races of swimrun in the world. The rules are clear and strict about staying with your teammate at all times. Your partner is your friend, first assistance, your support crew and your safety.
How to select your swimrun partner ?
They’ve kicked you in the face and pulled you backwards into freezing water. And you still really wanted to hug them after you crossed the finish line. That’s when you know you have a good swimrun partner.
There are many team-sports out there but few offer such friendship and trust between team members as swimrun. You need to be able to distinguish the difference in your partner’s silence between focused hard work and I’m-about-to-fall-down-and-not-get-up fatigue. And if you feel like you have 30 min left in the tank you might need to give them your last gel, even if they were clumsy and dropped his in the last swim.
Some people like to run in silence. Others will keep chatting away for eight hours. Make sure you and your partner are ok with whatever your thing is. You will go through a real struggle together but the reward at the end makes the journey worth every moment. Completing a swim run race with your best friend provides such a strong sense of comradery and success that can’t be found elsewhere.
How to find the perfect partner?
It will take some time before you know that you are a good team. Just like with any relationship you will have to go through some highs and lows together before you know. Not sure that love at first sight (or “good on paper”) works in the world of swimrun. Or anywhere else…
But it might be helpful to have a short checklist and check a few boxes before you embark on this new adventure together.
- What is your goal?
- Will you have fun together?
- Is this someone you want to share the swim run journey with?
- Do you have a common goal?
- What is the level of commitment?
- Are you equally strong?
- Can your strength compensate for your partner’s weakness and vice versa?
- Can you communicate? Can you communicate with a energy bar stuck halfway down your throat and teeth rattling from the cold?
A team who I reckon can check all these boxes are Rasmus Regnstrand and Simon Börjesson, from team Addnature. They swimran from Sweden to Finland two years ago, sharing a fantastic human experience. They also competed in ÖtillÖ that year and to help Rasmus suffering from blisters during the long run on the island of Ornö, Simon swapped his shoes with him. They both ended up with really sore feet. This is a real teamwork !
During a swimrun training or race, you have to keep safety in your mind at all times. Your best chances of getting help quickly is your partner. You must trust and rely on each other 100%. Do you know how to stretch someone else’s leg in deep choppy waters? I had to figure that out during a race. And first I had to figure out why he stopped swimming and what he was screaming at me … Be sure to check out your first aid kit before you’re race so you know what you have and how to use it.
Some final advices
For most of the swimrun races, it is allowed to use a tow line between the partners. When it comes to the physical part of the swimrun, in my opinion, the most important is to have a similar or close running level. In swimming, you can use this tow line that will allow the faster swimmer to pull his teammate. You won’t gain that much pull on land.
If the swimming level is quite similar, it is important to share quite evenly the swims. It is tiring to be pulling and on a race like an ÖtillÖ qualifier with more than 5km of swimming, the person in the front will get lots of fatigue by being in the front, pulling and doing the navigation.
I truly believe that swimrunners from the same team have to know each other well. That would be my main advice when it comes to finding the perfect match. In my personal swimrun experience, during the last four years, I had the chance to train and race with many different athletes, all with different strengths and weaknesses. I won’t change my mind that my best partnership was with my great friend Julian Dent from Australia. Because we know each other really well, we are able to use the right words at the right time. It is also an extra motivation to go training when you know that your friend is expecting you to do it.
Get out there and question all your friends to see who you can coach into joining this beautiful adventure with you. Stay tuned for the next edition in our LifeProof x Nicolas Remires blog series coming next week.
Header Photo Credit: Jakob Edholm