Everything You Need to Know About Swimrun

Athletes running out of the water

In This Article

Table of Contents


  • History
  • Types of Events
  • Training
  • Additional Tips
  • Suggested Gear

View All

Back To Top

If you’re passionate about endurance sports, consider adding a Swimrun event to your race calendar. This multisport competition features the unique challenge of consistently switching between swimming and running, in either a standard race course style or in a loop course.

Though certain events are focused on experienced long-course athletes, there are also several beginner-friendly short-course Swimrun events!

History of Swimrun

Swimrun is truly in its infancy compared to other endurance events. The first organized marathon took place as early as 1896 and the first modern triathlon in 1974 – but the first organized Swimrun event did not take place until 2006.

The origins of Swimrun started a few years earlier, in 2002, with a group of four friends in Sweden. The friends challenged each other to conquer a portion of the Stockholm archipelago by sea and foot, from Utö to Sandhamn. They broke into two pairs, and it took each more than 26 hours to complete the challenge.

In 2006, Michael Lemmel, an adventure racer with a sports marketing company, was asked to make a commercial event out of this style of racing. He met with the original friends from Sweden and watched them via safety boat as they did a trial run of a course outline. At the end of the trial run, he decided to move forward with planning the event.

The inaugural Swimrun was named ÖTILLÖ, translated as “island to island” in Swedish. Held in September 2006, it included nine pairs of athletes – but only two teams finished. The event garnered media attention as being one of the toughest endurance events in the world.

Later in 2012, additional Swimrun events began appearing in Sweden. In subsequent years, events began to pop up in other countries. Experts estimate there are now more than 400 Swimrun events around the world, and the sport continues to grow.