We've been supporting elite swimrun squad Team Envol for a few years now and, as we start the 2019 season, they're looking stronger than ever.
The first race of the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Series took place in Hvar, Croatia this weekend and Envol took 4 of the 9 podium spots up for grabs across the Men's, Women's and Mixed team categories. Not a bad haul!
Brad asked the team a few questions about the race and their training, plus the team has some words of wisdom for anyone inspired enough to want to get started in the sport...
After a long off season, things have started out very well for the team with 4 podiums at the season opener, ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Hvar in Croatia!
How did the training camp a few weeks back play into this weekend's results?
Nicolas Remires (🥈overall @ ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Hvar, Team Captain):
The training camp in Spain really helped us focus on our training for 6 full days. The priority was the training, which isn't always the case as we're not full time athletes.
For me personally, the camp also confirmed that I was able to run quite well after a few months of injury, which was a relief!
Fanny Danckwardt (🥇Women @ ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Hvar, 🥈Women @ 2018 ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Champs with Desirée Andersson):
For me, it was an excellent opportunity to get in a few good training sessions with my team mate Desirée. We live in different countries, so it was great to be able to tune in after a winter of training apart!
Anna Hellström (🥈Women @ ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Hvar with Susie Moonan):
The camp was a perfect time to get in some good open water swimming; living in Sweden, the winter months tend to be quite hard for swimrun training!
It was also great to try some of the new team equipment for the season ahead.
During the off season were there any specific aspects of your performance that you focused on, or did you just keep the training well rounded?
Desirée Andersson (🥇Women @ ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Hvar, 🥈Women @ 2018 ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Champs with Fanny Danckwardt):
I tried to find some places at home where I could prepare myself a bit for the hard rock running sections of Hvar, since that was where I found the course most challenging last year.
Nicolas: I was nursing injuries throughout the 2018 season. Racing hard on a weak body was not fun! I spent 3 months working hard on the base of my body in the gym. I've never felt as strong as I do now. I have some big plans now to get some high quality training blocks in...
Anna: I’ve been focusing a lot on my swimming. Both endurance and technique since, swimming is my weakness compared to running. I also did a bit more strength training during the winter months than in the past.
André Hook (🥉Mixed Team @ ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Hvar with Dorte Zimmerman):
Sometimes it's difficult to juggle training with family commitments and your career. I found a good solution this winter, focussing more on early morning pool sessions.
All of my running took part on my way to and from work, in my lunch-break (city park or treadmill) and - with a bit more time, but still very early in the morning - during the weekends.
Fanny: I switched out some kilometres of running for yoga and strength training. I think this had a positive impact both in terms of preventing injury and perfecting my posture in both disciplines!
Susie Moonan (🥈Women @ ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Hvar with Anna Hellström):
I focused a lot on building strength and stability in between my usual running and swimming sessions. It's important for me to maintain a strong body, especially my core, since having my kids. I have also cycled several times a week as a complement to my training which I believe has helped to prevent injuries.
How does the course at Hvar compare to other swimruns that you've done? What's your favourite part of the course?
André: Like Anna, the swimming is my weaker discipline and I'm not so keen on swimming long distances and so, in Hvar, I definitely have to cope with this challenge! Due to some good preparation it went well but I'm still happy to continue on to Utö and Engadin where, as a runner, I see more opportunities to compensate for so-so swimming!
Desirée: The special thing about this race is the long swim sections and, as we come from a swimming background, that’s something good for our team.
I like the section where it starts to go downhill at the end of the long run and you know that you only have two swim and run sections left before the finish line! It feels so rewarding to get into the sea after that long run...
Fanny: The Hvar course is unique due to the running environment - it's almost never flat. Either you have sharp “moon rocks” to run through, or it’s steep hills and rocky slopes, it’s more of an adventure! Hvar also has a lot of swimming, which is why it's definitely near the top list of my race list...
Susie: I would, without doubt, say that the technical run during the first part of the race and the long, steep run on the main island of Hvar was the toughest part for me and that it's also very specific to Hvar.
Even though these are is my weak points, I actually enjoyed pacing up the hill during the second half of the race. It was my mental hang up before starting and then I was so high on adrenaline being able to push myself uphill.
Nicolas: The Hvar course is really challenging, it's got the longest swim of any ÖTILLÖ course and a massive 14km run with big hills.
The sharp “moon rocks” are also creating a big gap between the teams. So many competitors lose lots of time in these sections but I like this kind of running.
My favourite thing about this course is it's figure of 8 shape, it's fun to pass by the start/finish and see the crowd a few times.
Were there any major setbacks during the race that you had to overcome?
Nicolas: Julien and I spent most of the race at the front. The pace was high and there's no time to waste. Unfortunately some sabotage to the course marking made us lose 4'20. We lost some mental focus at that point!
Also at the start of 3km swim, I broke my hand paddle. I had to swim 45 minutes holding my paddle with my finger tips. In cold conditions, that was really uncomfortable...
Desirée: I was feeling sick before the long swim and had to throw up. But I felt better afterwards and we continued on ok!
Susie: Yes, I got my shoulder dislocated just before swimming back to the main island of Hvar and I was in chock for some time after. I was lucky to have another team to help me and my shoulder was put in to place and I could continue for the rest of the race.
André: Unlike most of my teammates, I experienced one of those rare, easy-going days! Looking at some of the video footage, I still need to improve my stroke rate. But since the open water season is just around the corner, I'm happy to take on this challenge...
So, with the season underway, what does your next block of training look like?
Anna: I will focus a bit more on my running now, especially on technical trails, with Utö being my next race.
Fanny: After a few days rest and a focus on swimming this week, I'll do 2 weeks of regular training load before the Costa Brava Swimrun.
Nicolas: My next block will involve a 4 week focus on running. Utö is in 6 weeks time and speed is on the menu...
André: I will take it a bit easier this week. After that, my usual race partner Wolf and I will continue our preparations for Utö and Engadin. We have a special training plan for this that's usually divided into two heavier weeks plus an easier one to recover a bit.
The highlight of our preparation for Engadin will be a week with the great "Team Simployer" (Johan & Joakim) in the Austrian Alps. It will be funny to use the ski-lifts dressed in neoprene. We will train in beautiful areas sprinkled with mountain lakes and challenging summits. I cannot wait to leave for that adventure...
For someone looking to get into swimrun, what's the best advice you can give to them?
Fanny: Talk to someone experienced to get advice, and maybe even borrow equipment for your first race!
You can also join swimrun communities online to get really good advice and look for race partners. For example, the Global Swimrun Women group on Facebook is a great community, moderated by WILD Swimrun.
André: You can have the best equipment and the most sophisticated training routine in the world but still not enjoy this beautiful sport just because you're training and racing with the wrong partner. So start from there. Once you found your perfect match, everything else will be so much easier and enjoyable.
Nicolas: I'd advise you to find a group or community to get started with as then there's always someone to ask questions to and train with. Swimrun is an extremely friendly world so far.
You can also contact me for some coaching via Envol Coaching or to join Team Envol. Just don't be too shy to ask.
And go out to enjoy nature through swimming and running. There are no limitations!
Susie: Practice your open water swimming, I think this can be the most challenging part of the sport if you're not used to it.
Make sure to team up with a friend that knows your strengths and weaknesses so you both can push and support each other during your race.
And make sure to lift your head and enjoy some of the scenery...