Otillo Swimrun


The company Otillo are the inventors and originators of Swimrun.  Otillo Swimrun is usually spelled with an 'umlaut' above the letter 'O',  like this - 'Ö". The two tiny dots above the letter O mean that it should be pronounced like OE - (almost like 'err') . The word Ötillö is Swedish for 'island to island'. It describes the sport in one word.


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The first race that we would recognize as being a SwimRun event was the result of a drunken bet in a Stockholm bar. There were 4 people involved. They were the 2 Andersson brothers, Janne Lindberg, and Anders Malm.

On the table in front of them, the napkins had a map of the Stockholm archipelago - all the islands. At some point during the evening, one of the men wondered out loud if it might be possible to run and swim the length of the island chain - swimming from island to island, and running over each one to the next swim.

Otillo SwimrunOur hats from Isles of Scilly World Series event 2019

Of course, everyone thought this was a crazy idea. Who on earth would want to swim in the freezing waters of the Sea, as well as running over the rocky islands too?

Well, with the assistance of some alcohol, a bet was made. They agreed to race each other, in teams of 2, across the islands and sea of the Stockholm archipelago. They had to check in at each of 3 restaurants en route, and the first team to arrive at each restaurant could eat and drink whatever they wanted, with the second team to arrive paying for it!

Ötillö Swimrun

When they started the race, it took them 28 hours to finish, and they were too exhausted at the end to do any partying!

The following year they had the race again, with the same results.

In 2005, one of the original 4 had the idea to make a commercial (ie. proper) race event out of the crazy sport. They approached 2 experienced adventure racers, Michael Lemmel and Mats Skott, to ask if they thought it might be possible.

Otillo Swimrun - Mats Skott and Michael Lemmel, founders of SwimrunMats Skott, left; Michael Lemmel, right

Mats and Michael thought it was not a good idea, and initially they did not want to get involved. However, after a period of time, they came around to the idea, and agreed to set up a series of events. At this time, the new sport did not have a name.

It was only after they had run a few events that one of their podium finishers, Erika Rosenbaum, came up with the name "SwimRun".  She simply said to Micheal -

"Hey, you should call this event a SwimRun!" -  and so the sport had its name.

Otillo Swimrun

Ötillö - (island to island) now had a name for the new sport.

Otillo Swimrun - Michael LemmelMichael Lemmel

If you ever go to an Ötillö event, you will find that Michael Lemmel tends to take the stage more than Mats. Michael will do the introductions, the pre-race briefing, and will generally be more visible at the start and finish, and sometimes even around the course.

Mats Skott is less visible, and seems to operate in the background more. However, he sometimes pops up unexpectedly, such as at the post-race raffle in Engadin, Switzerland in 2017, where we won the 2nd prize! In the photo below, Mats is on the extreme right of the photo, and we are on the left.

Otillo SwimrunRaffle at Engadin - Mats Skott is on the extreme Right

Ötillö, run by Michael and Mats, have set up a World Series of events, which they add to year upon year. Obviously, 2020 was a difficult year, with many events cancelled worldwide, but Ötillö have their race calendar for 2020 / 2021 set up, as listed below.

Ötillö Swimrun - events

Final 15k - Sprint - August 29th / 30th 2020

SEPTEMBER 4 2020 ;  Here is the script from the Ötillö News;

"The 2020 ÖTILLÖ season continues along a new path.

Dear racers, friends and family!

This summer is coming to a close and life still moves on. As we all are very aware of we did not get the approval for ÖTILLÖ, The Swimrun World Championship this year. It would have been our 15th in a row, so to say the least, this past Monday felt quite empty.

To offset that disappointment we had a fantastic ÖTILLÖ Sprint Final 15K weekend instead. Where a new race course, one of our best and with a Covid-19 adjusted format with six starts with 50 persons each time saw the light. It was a very successful weekend and like we said after ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Engadin - It is so good to put on races!

Read the Race Director Report from ÖTILLÖ Sprint Final 15K 2020, See the results and see the images here.

We are also happy to confirm that we will go ahead with the ÖTILLÖ SWIMRUN UTÖ weekend in the end of September.

On September 20th we will communicate about our October race in Cannes and how we will proceed with that.

Michael & Mats "

While course marking on Üto for the Final 15k Sprint CLICK HERE to see what the course markers found on the route!!

Üto,  Sweden - September 26th / 27th  2020 -  CANCELLED

Cannes, South of France - October 17th / 18th 2020

Hvar , Crotia -  November 7th / 8th  2020

Malta - November 28th / 29th  2020

Catalina Island, USA - March 6th / 7th 2021 (to be confirmed)

Engadin, Switzerland - July 24th / 26th 2021

World Championship, Sweden - 6th September 2021

We have done 4 SwimRun events, of which 3 were run by Ötillö.  There are a few things to note about the events run by Michael and Mats;

  • They are always tough, especially the World Series races.
  • The Final in the Stockholm archipelago is regarded as the toughest one-day event on the planet.
  • Even in Sprint events, the course will take the hardest route.
  • Nearly all Ötillö races are held in spectacular but hard-to-reach locations.
  • Water temperatures are nearly always low - around 10 degrees Celcius.

In short, Ötillö want to be seen as the Iron Man brand of SwimRun.  But there is competition. Various organisations are settingup their own versions of Swimrun events, such as Bologna SwimRun in Italy, and Breca SwimRun who run events in the U.K. and New Zealand.

In the U.S.A., here is also the Ignite Swimrun  series, and the Odyssey Races.

AND in the United Kingdom, there is new company setting up events all over the country - Keen as Mustard SwimRun. Find an event near you!

In Spain and Portugal, the sports equipment company HEAD have set up their own HEAD SwimRun series, with 7 events scheduled for 2020.

If you are taking part in Ötillö Swimrun events and Merit events, you earn points towards their World Series. You can check your overall position HERE, the TSR ranking homepage.

As the first SwimRun company, Otillo deserve a special place - they invented a whole new sport!

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