Love Swimrun photo by Sarah Cook

What is SwimRun?

SwimRun is a fast growing endurance sport in which you run and swim between two predefined points along a set course of cross country runs and open water swims without stopping in between. SwimRun is quite similar to the sport aquathlon where participants undertake a swim and then transition to a run. However, in SwimRun participants switch between running and swimming many times during a single race, running in their wetsuits and swimming in their trainers.

The sport was conceived in 2006 when Ötillö (meaning ‘Island to island’) was held for the first time in Sweden. The concept of SwimRun was result of a beer fueled challenge between a group of friends – to race across the Stockholm archipelago, running over the islands and swimming between them. The race has become an annual event this year Ötillö will celebrate it’s 11th anniversary!

SwimRun is gaining momentum and there are now SwimRun races all over the world, however, only last year did the sport reach the UK! There have been just a handful of events in the UK so far (in Scotland and the Lake District) but now Love SwimRun is bringing the SwimRun craze to North Wales!

Take a look at this video:

Is SwimRun only for elite athletes?

There are now a wide range of SwimRun competitions across the globe. ‘Ultra’ SwimRuns have +50 km running and +10 km swimming, ‘Regular’ SwimRuns have a total distance of between 20 – 60 km and ‘Sprint’ SwimRuns which are 20km or less that suit beginners and SwimRunners looking for a fun training event. Each race  can have varying elements such as the ratio between swimming and running distance, the type of terrain, the height gain, the number of transitions and even rules!

Is Love SwimRun for me?

Love SwimRun races are aimed at SwimRun beginners or just those wanting to take part in the sport without completely beasting themselves! Love SwimRun is a great ‘taster’ race to take part in before you commit to one of the bigger events or a warmup/training event in the run up to a biggie! Don’t be fooled though, the course may not be that long but it’s still a tough race that will require some committed training. We’ll help you out by providing lots of training, technique and gear advise. We’ll also be holding some social SwimRuns to help you train and to try out the gear.

How good at swimming do you have to be?

You do need to be a strong swimmer to take part in a SwimRun event. If you can do 1500 meters front crawl, then you’re ready for a SwimRun! If you can only do breaststroke you can still take part. The swim training is the most committing factor of taking part in a SwimRun race and you need to be prepared to be aiming for long training swims of at least 3km. You will also need to have experience of swimming in open water which is very different to a pool environment. Water in the lakes can be very cold and deep, with no lines to follow to keep you going in a straight line. The surface can get choppy which makes breathing hard and wind can make swimming very hard going if you are headed into it.  Many people are scared by the swim sections, but bear in mind that the wetsuit and the optional floating devices give you an incredible amount buoyancy that will help you out a lot. There will be plenty of kayak support on the day to ensure your safety. If you train for endurance at the pool and get some open water experience in before hand you will have no problems.

Do I enter as a team or can I go solo?

Most SwimRun races are completed in teams of two, this is one of the unique and fun features of the sport, and during the longer races it is important for safely reasons, especially during the long and technical openwater swims. However Love SwimRun are also offering solo places for our events – not everyone can find a partner and some folks just prefer to go it alone and we don’t like to put barriers in your way! The swims in our event are fairly short and will all be in one lake that will have plenty of kayak support. Solo competitors will be required to wear a tow float as an extra safety precaution.

Do team mates have to stay together?

Teams of two must stay together for the whole race – you are a team after all! Some teams like to use a bungee tow rope which can help even out the individuals strengths allowing one person to be ‘pulled’ along and will help to keep you close during the swims, however, they are not mandatory.

How do transitions work?

At each water entry and exit there will be a dibber for your electronic timing chip. This will give us your time splits but will also help us keep track of your movements so we always know where you are for safety reasons. Teams must arrive at each transition as a pair. Teamwork is particularly important at transitions as you might need to help each other out of the water or check each others wetsuit is done up and gear is in place as you run towards a water entry.  You can read more about transitions here.

What equipment do I need for SwimRun?

There is a list of mandatory equipment for our Love SwimRun race, including wetsuits, trainers, goggles & swim hats. See our Race Rules for a list of mandatory equipment.

Swim in my shoes, run in my wetsuit… really?

During a SwimRun event you don’t change your kit like you would in a triathlon: you swim in your trainers and run in your wetsuit. This is all part of the challenge and the fun! Running in a wetsuit takes some getting used to as it feels restrictive and hot, swimming in sodden trainers increases drag in the water and just feels odd! SwimRunners have come up with a number of  solutions to these problems, including customising wetsuits and using pull buoys, fins and hand paddles. Check out our RunSwim Knowlesge base to find information, tips and ideas about SwimRun wetsuits, shoes and gear.

Our sponsor Zone3 are offering all Love SwimRun participants 15% off all their range of wetsuits and gear including their SwimRun specific wetsuit, the Evolution. We also have a 20% from ICEBUG shoes for you, they have designed trainers with SwimRun in mind! You will receive a special discount code once you have entered.

What are the rules in SwimRun?

Rules vary from race to race. Here’s a link to our Love SwimRun rules.