otilloswimrun athletesswimrun feature

From Swimming Zero To Swimrun Hero: The Remarkable Journey of Amanda Nilsson

Swedish based, Amanda Nilsson is something of an inspiration. With hard work and determination, she has become one of the best swimrunners in the world taking top spot in the mixed category with her partner Adriel Young at the 2023 Swimrun World Championship. 

We caught up with Amanda shortly after this where she was in excellent spirits, adding that the day after, her mind was longing to do more races although her body was saying otherwise! 

Amanda thinks it is an exciting time for swimrun with ÖTILLÖ’s expansion into the US although she admits, it will likely make competition more fierce for her and her partner Adriel! She was humble, charming and a delight to speak with. 

How did you discover swimrun? 

Amanda couldn’t swim and was scared of the water, she tried every sport under the sun including crossfit and football and found her trail running prowess gave her an advantage. Little did she know that swimrun was calling… 

By chance, the Island Challenge Swim Run was in Amanda’s hometown of Karlshamn in South Sweden. She knew about the race and finally inspired by the nature of the course, Amanda teamed up with her brother, Adam to take on the race in 2017. The pair had different approaches to racing but nevertheless, Amanda was hooked on the sport.She upped her swimming game to 5-6 days a week and continued to make progress. 

Best moment in swimrun?

Two moments really. Very very special to win the ÖTILLÖ, The Swimrun World Championshi this year, something I’ve worked for a long time to reach this goal and so much fun to do it with Adriel! 

The second moment was when I did my first World Series race in 2019 at ​​Utö, I had a good race with partner Kenny Meijer and we won the mixed category. 

Let’s chat about your partner, Adriel?

Well he’s the biggest celebrity I know I think (swimrun.com asked Amanda who her dream celebrity partner would be). 

Our partnership happened almost by accident. Just two days before I was put together with Adriel (who was meant to be racing in the mens category with Kenny). Our first race went well and we were on the same page! Before that race we didn’t know how things would shake out. Adriel is such a good teammate, it is hard not to like him. He makes other teammates good.

We do talk a bit but not too much.. It really depends if the race is going well or not. If we are struggling, we chat less!

Our strategy for the World Championship this year was to get onto Ornö in good condition. We felt fantastic on the first 6-7km on Ornö but then my legs became heavy as we had pushed hard in the beginning of the race. We do stop at all the aid stations to have energy, really important for longer races.

Top piece of advice for beginners?

Using the right equipment makes such a tangible difference, especially paddles and pull buoy. I really like my Ark Carbon Paddles. Do it with a friend or someone else. Don’t do it alone!

Favourite race?

That is a hard question, every race I’ve done has its charm. My local race of Karlshamn is right up there, ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Engadin and of course the end of season at Swimrun Reunion.

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.

translate swimrun.com