Swimrun originated in Sweden just over 10 years ago with the original race being the ÖtillÖ (island to island). As a sport, Swimrun has been growing rapidly both in Sweden, Europe and now the US as people embrace an endurance event with a difference.
Swimrun involves teams of two racing together from point to point, with no changing of clothes during transitions between running and swimming disciplines. Team members swim in their shoes and run in their wetsuits.
Participants are expected to carry everything they need for the race along with them. For many it is the perfect mix of physical challenge and adventure, with the opportunity to race alongside a friend or partner, and the feelings of camaraderie associated with that, making the Swimrun event style unique.
It is getting bigger and the endurance racing industry is taking notice
Sure it is a hybrid style race format, but tickets to Swimrun events are selling like hot property, and there is a new amphibious Swimrun shoe or Swimrun-specific piece of gear hitting the market every 6 months.
The reality is people want something outside of the norm and are demanding 'experience' style races vs a flat track/set distance.
“Triathlon may be the one of fastest growing sports in the world, but for many it is the antithesis of adventure: flashy gear, $8,000 bikes and repetitive routes. Step forward swimrun, a new sporting event that ditches the tri-bars and asphalt roads in favour of a bit of off-road and open-water adventure.” – The Guardian, November 2015
The exponential growth in Swimrun events reflects the rapidly increasing demand (see below since inception):
Why is it growing so fast?
A change from the norm
Unlike a lot of endurance sports it is actually less repetitive and the course is determined by the natural surroundings (point to point). A bit like trail running, your time for a specific distance is somewhat irrelevant compared to pounding the pavement glued to your garmin, it's more about getting around the course and experiencing nature at the same time.
Back in 2014, Outside Magazine published an interesting article about the difference between SwimRun and other endurance events such as triathlon, that is still very relevant today.