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All about EX Swimrun: Sweden’s Evolutionary Race. It is super EXciting!

EX Swimrun is one of the next evolutions in swimrun. Founded in November 2019 by three friends: Pehr Westman, Elisabet Pärsdotter Westman and Nicholas Roman, EX Swimrun is fast becoming a ‘bucket-list’ race on the global swimrun calendar. 

Photo Credit: Christer Schapiro

EX Swimrun offers three courses: ARK Supersprint (1km), EX23 Long (23km), EX23 Short (14km) as well as the EX Supersafari (a full day guided swimrun journey) which is held later in the year. 

Swimrun.com sat down with a chatty Nicholas Roman, a 46 year old male with a few grey hairs, to chat about the most exciting spectator race in the sport where athletes are literally falling over the finish line. 

How did you discover swimrun?

It would be hard for Nicholas not to have discovered swimrun. Living on the island of Runmarö (which is on the ÖTILLÖ World Championship course) – he met some of the early adopters of swimrun and was intrigued. Swimrun soon became his passion, and the eminent Stockholm Archipelago, his playground.  

Nicholas (EX Swimrun) & Fred (swimrun.com) with dogs!

What is your favourite swimrun race?

EX Swimrun of course! Nicholas loves the Koster Swimrun having been there for many years. It’s a challenging exposed course and a reunion of friends. Rockman also has a special place in his heart and gives a wry smile when revealing why this ‘insane’ course is right up there. In a previous edition, he had to do the infamous 4444 steps up to The Dragons Neck with severe cramp. Ouch. 

What makes a good swimrun course?

It’s all about a high degree of SWIFA (Swim Factor). Since swimrun is SWIMrun and not runswim, at least 20% of swimming is a good baseline for a swimrun course. Along with technical trails which make you think and stunning scenery to enjoy throughout. Really swimrun is an experiential sport, and experience is at the core of how we design our courses. 

Photo Credit: Christer Schapiro

Swimrun has weathered the storm of the last few years, are things back to normal?

We are back. People are now more selective and are focusing on experiential activities. It is better to do something today because the future is uncertain. The bulk of participants are coming back, and this year is a crucial one for swimrun. There is a great core of excellent races which have survived and now need to thrive. For us as organisers, we need to be careful to keep the momentum and balance price sensitivities while keeping a high degree of quality of event production.

Tell us about the EX ARK Supersprint?

It is a completely new concept, a 1km flat out course where spectators can experience the sport in its entirety. Athletes can be easily tracked by the small field sizes and coloured hats.  

This short course is 100% effort with 6-7 minutes of flat out action. Participants literally fall over the finish line. It is sensational to watch, last year we had all the world champions participate. 

Everyone is red lining it, interestingly we thought that there might be group tactics to go out slow then push on the swims. When actually, everyone just goes for it from the off! Which is quite a spectacle. 

Photo Credit: Christer Schapiro

EX23 Long & Short

In addition, EX Swimrun also hosts a Long Course at 23km which is an ÖTILLÖ Merit race. The Long Course starts with easier running and bigger swims, followed by the longest swim in the middle part of the race before coming into a more technical section. The course, although short in distance but packs a punch with the high and tough swim sections. There is also a very fun and doable 14km Short Course that anyone can have a go at. 

The Jump 

Around 900m from the finish, there is the Falcon Mountain Base Jump with a 6m cliff jump in the water. From the start and finish line you can see this jump which feels huge, it has a big fear factor and will test athletes’ courage as they come towards the end of the race.  There is a ‘chicken line’ if you don’t want to jump which adds time onto your overall race. Would you jump? 

Photo Credit: Anders Wadin

What advice would you give to a new swimrunner?

Find a short race and just crack on and give it a go. Anyone can do our 14km race, if you can do a bit of swimming such as breast stroke, you can do swimrun.

Photo Credit: Christer Schapiro

Plans for the future? 

EX would like to be the largest race in Stockholm outside of ÖTILLÖ with enough participants to ensure the long term success of the event without losing the nice familiar feel we have to it. We are in swimrun, so we are in it for the love of the sport! 

ARK Supersprint invitation only returns on Saturday May 27th (which will be broadcast on Instagram Live this year). You can enter into the EX 23 Long and EX23 Short on Sunday May 28th with more information on EX Swimrun here


Fred Newton

Fred is the Editor and co-founder of swimrun.com. He has actively been involved with the sport of swimrun as an enthusiastic participant, race director, volunteer and journalist.

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