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. Dates are, of course, open to change.

Ötillö Swimrun - events

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

October 9 2020 ;  Here is the script from the Ötillö News;

Dear Racers, friends and family,

With Covid-19 on the rise through Europe again we have had to make some tough decisions for the rest of the autumn.
Please read the updates below.

After our weekly meeting yesterday with the City of Cannes we can again reconfirm that the race weekend of October 17 & 18 is maintained. We will host the races.

Please read the Racer info here about the race specifics.

We sincerely look forward to seeing you there for what might be the last race of the year.

After discussions with the Town of Hvar and at the request of the Croatian national Covid-19 headquarters we have been asked to cancel the event. The town is more or less closed down and they fear that the second wave in Europe will block all travel. This has brought us to the conclusion of cancelling ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Hvar in 2020.

Anyone with an entry to the Hvar race weekend is free to move it to any of our other events before the end of November 2021. When you are ready to enter the event of your choice please email info@otilloswimrun.com for a 100% discount code in the same category. Please ask for your discount code before December 20th for it to be valid. Mark your email with ”Race category and team name”. The 2021 event calendar will be published in December.

At the moment we are keeping the Malta event on hold. We are seeing what the development is in the next two weeks but considering the development of Covid in Europe at the moment we see that we might have to postpone this event. Our goal is of course to keep the dates but it must also allow us and you to be able to travel and participate without too much hassle. We will communicate the status clearly before November 1st.

Our ambition is to always put on a race but we also cannot go through another 2020, not for you and not for us.

We have several very good plans in store, we have a new event location we want to introduce and we have some calendar changes with the event dates due to the Covid situation. Over the next couple of months these plans will be clearly communicated and dates will be set. However, we will not open registration to events until we know we can host them as the situation for everyone has not been ideal this year.

We sincerely hope that you have understanding for all of this and that we can see each other soon.

Until then we will at least put on a great race weekend in Cannes in one weeks time.

Michael, Mats and the ÖTILLÖ team

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 - CANCELLED

Malta - November 28th / 29th  2020  -  ON  HOLD

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

Uto, Sweden  -  May 29/30 2021

Isles of Scilly, U.K.  -  June 19/20 2021

Engadin, Switzerland - July 10th / 11th 2021

World Championship, Sweden -  September 4th and 6th, 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 - As 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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