Team Envol enjoyed a day to remember at ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Catalina as Nicolas Remires and Francesc de Lanuza Gimeno won the men's race, Fanny Kuhn and Desiree Andersson took the ladies' title, and Alexis Charrier and Sabina Rapelli were the mixed champions.
We caught up with Team Envol's founder and head coach, Nicolas, to hear why athletes should consider joining a team or train with a partner...
Hi Nicolas, congratulations on what was a brilliant weekend for you on a personal level and for the team as a whole - what do you put the success of Team Envol down to?
The three victories are amazing. Within the elite team, we had a good chat before the event and we made it clear we wanted to be on top.
In our race, the battle with Fredrik Axegard and Oscar Olsson was planned, but we'd beaten them before and I knew that with Francesc, we were able to go hard.
On top of that, we had 15 team members in Catalina also racing and hundreds more team members cheering for us at home. We really wanted to set an example to follow in 2020. That’s what we did.
You certainly did. So, let's go back to the beginnings of Team Envol - there are plenty of sports clubs and teams out there, but how did the idea of forming the very first swimrun team come about?
Team Envol was created when I was looking for a racing partner. I decided to build the team to help swimrunners find racing and training partners.
Now, Envol is a growing swimrun community where we share training and experiences. We want to inspire and bring more people into the sport, so everyone is welcome, regardless of where you live in the world.
Is it that shared experience which appeals to athletes when joining a team? Or is there a danger that rivalries and even jealousy could come to the fore when training with other athletes?
One of the bonuses of being part of a team is it's amazing to know that the Tuesday training you do in Los Angeles is similar to the one our athletes in Stockholm or Melbourne or London are doing. We're talking the same language.
We're pulling each other up and improving 24/7, so we're sharing training and data.
Of course, the rivalries exist and we are all in this squad to reach our own goals, but I’m happy when another male athlete is performing better than me, like when Francesc beat me in Malta in 2019. It was that moment when I told myself that this guy is a machine and we should give it a try as a partnership.
So, why should an athlete consider joining a team, whatever their sport, and what are the benefits of training with other people?
It can be helpful to be part of a team to help learn and find people of a similar level to train with.
For example, Team Envol has coaches based in different locations and they've created swimrun 'communities'. And then when we all meet up at races, we'll share our experiences and help one another.
Training or 'boot' camps are ideal for athletes to gain experience and learn from other athletes too.
We ran a two-day clinic in Los Angeles at the end of January to learn about optimising training.
At the end of the two-day clinic, the participants knew exactly how to use their gear, how to train in the pool, and how to train and race with their partner.
Having shared goals can be a great benefit, but how's best to find a training (or racing partner in swimrun)?
My best advice would be to communicate with a potential training or race partner: talk about your goals and commitments.
When this is set, you can then study each other's data (i.e. pace, strength, endurance) and work out how best to move forward.
You'll need to have patience and be willing to work together.
For example, in Catalina, Francesc told me that he was cold after the first swim, I took the lead, told him to eat a lot, move the arms, and trust in the tether line.
Same when I suffered up the hills, he just came to the front and set the pace - not fast, not too slow. We don't need long talks, we're friends and know each other well.
Excellent, so how do your experiences from your own athletic career shape your philosophy as a coach?
I received so many messages telling me how motivating it was to finally see me winning after all these years of training and racing at the top level of the sport.
During a race or some long training sessions, there's time to think and optimise my coaching. I have many ideas for different athletes and I like to customise 100% to the athlete's goals.
And finally, what would be your top 3 tips for a beginner hoping to take up swimrun as a sport?
First, go out. Run to a lake or the sea, and swim. And then keep running after the swim. Repeat. Test the activity.
Second, speak to experienced swimrunners about gear and training. Team Envol are always happy to help.
Third, when you have tested and you have your gear ready, train with your partner. Find the right person and get to know each other in race situations.
Thanks Nicolas! Best of luck to you and Team Envol for the season ahead.
If you're interested in starting swimrun or joining Team Envol, Nicolas offers individual training plans for different races. He has also designed a 'swimrun scale' to help athletes find a partner/teammate of a similar ability. To find out more, visit www.teamenvol.com.