Sweden is the origin of swimrun races and the location of the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship. I have wanted to race there ever since I started doing swimrun races and when I saw the ARK SuperSprint format I knew it was an event I would love to do. The organisers describe the event as:
An extremely short and arena friendly course at Edsvik just outside Stockholm with only 1000m running in two sections and 200m swimming. The Supersprint is run in heats with only 3-5 racers on the starting line. It's all about positioning and the tactical play will be decisive. Like Ski-Cross meets sprint cross-country skiing.
I travelled to Stockholm with the intention of entering the time trial to try and secure a place in the event. However, the day before the race one of the invited athlete dropped out and I received an invitation to start in Heat 3 (thank you Elisabet!). It was a perfect day for racing and even the water temperature was around 15C which was a relief as I was worried how cold it may be.
My strategy for the races was to go as hard as possible in the first race to see where I ended up and to give myself the chance to get into the next round. The first run was fast and hard and I arrived at the water together with one other athlete (Joakim Bruntzell). I followed Joakim's feet in the water to take advantage of drafting him. Within about 50m I could see a swimmer on our left powering past us (Olympic swimmer Simon Sjödin) and I shifted over to his feet to try and keep up with him. Fortunately I was able to stay with Simon and even pass him right at the finish of the swim to exit the water first. Simon then sprinted past me and I planned to run with him to secure a place in the next round. However, on the climb up to the finish he slowed and I managed to pass him to win the heat.
In the semi-final I planned to go hard again, but I also knew a little more about the race format and I was willing to be a little more tactical to try and ensure I got through to the final. In the first run I pushed the pace at the front because I thought that I may not be as strong in the swim as the others and I wanted everyone to arrive at the lake already working. At the swim entry Johan Skårbratt leapt into the water to pass me in a super impressive style (I've got something to learn from that!) and started swimming fast. I did my best to stay on his feet and almost made it all the way across in that position, but he pulled away just before the swim exit. I could see I had a gap on the two other athletes behind me so I measured my effort to hold onto second place and to secure myself a place in the final.
In the final I started the first run at a fast pace again aiming to settle into a good position in the water. I knew Johan would be fast in the swim so I hoped to make him a little tired and also to have a small advantage at the swim start. This worked well and in the swim I was able to follow Johan and leave the water in second place. On the final run I pushed as hard as I could, but Joacim Wiking came flying past me and I couldn't respond. I hoped that I would be strong on the final climb up to the finish and catch the two ahead of me, but unfortunately I didn't have the same strength and speed as as my run in Heat 3 and Simon Björnsholm came past me. It was a little disappointing to finish 4th, however, I was pleased I had made it into the final and I gave my best against some very strong athletes. I certainly learnt a lot and felt encouraged by how well I could compete. My time in Heat 3 was the same as Johan's winning time in the final so perhaps if I had managed the three races better I could have been on the podium - something to work on for the future.
|Quarter-final: first run.
|Quarter-final: transition from swim to run.
|Semi-final: first run.
|Semi-final: transition from swim to run.
|Semi-final: second run.
|Final: first run.
|Final: transition from swim to run.
This event was so much fun and I enjoyed meeting all the athletes and race organisers. I would love to go back again next year to see if I can improve on my results and race times.
27 May 2023
3 x 1.2km (800m run, 200m swim, 200m run)
1) Heat 3 = 6:28 (1st)
2) Semi-final = 6:40 (2nd)
3) Final = 6:43 (4th)