Swimrun Gear: Orca’s Ian Clarke On The Future Of Swimrun

New Zealand’s Orca are one of the best known swimrun brands worldwide. We sat down with Ian Clarke, Brand Manager for Orca UK & Ireland who gave his frank appraisal on what is going on in the sport right now. Ian has been with Orca for over 11 years, a keen trail runner who also loves the open water. He has been involved with swimrun races since 2016.

Ian, What Makes Swimrun Unique?

Swimrun is about the pure enjoyment of adventure with a tremendous sense of ‘fun’ thrown into the mix. That and being primarily a team-based activity where you are tethered with one other for hours upon hours makes it unique. Read swimrun.com’s beginners guide to swimrun for more information on this wonderful sport.

Swimrun is a team sport

Where Do You See The Future Growth Of Swimrun Coming From?

It is clear that the sport is still finding its feet post pandemic. Much of the excitement in the mainstream has paused, although it does seem to be building up again. The short term growth will come from triathlon, as it’s relatively easy to move across. The long term success of swimrun is about making it more accessible to the wider outdoors and active community – that is to say tapping into open water swimming, trail runners and even those who do parkrun. Accessibility is key.

So More Extreme 40km + Courses Or Short ‘Parkrun’ Style Courses?

The barriers of entry must be low enough for mass market appeal and many more events at grass roots level. We would need to see local tri clubs hosting events and swimrun specific clubs such as Southsea Swimrun popping up across the country. This is where the growth of the sport will come from. Parkruns not marathons.

Swimrun Hasn’t Come To Ireland Yet. Why Is That?

Ireland has a real land access issue which makes putting on races and events extremely difficult with landowners and councils worried about liability. It’s a stunning place, ideally suited to the sport but while access limitations as they are – growth in Ireland will be slow.

So Why Should Participants Choose An Orca Swimrun Wetsuit?

Swimrun challenges neoprene to its max. It’s fair to say that Orca have leaned heavily on their triathlon expertise (no bad thing) to make their wetsuits and have been on a steep learning curve since the early prototypes. Orca has a reputation for quality and robust products, producing swimrun wetsuits which are flexible enough while providing neoprene in the right places.

Swimrun wetsuits are challenged during races.

What Should A Swimrunner Look For When Choosing A Wetsuit?

  1. Correct fit is the most important thing. A wetsuit which fits you for your size and body shape.
  2. Budget, buy one that you can afford. Do you really want to be spending £400 on a suit that you might use once?
  3. What are the performance factors? Swimrun shouldn’t be done in long sleeve full wetsuit for example!

Orca is releasing a new SwimRun wetsuit range in June with two performance levels, consisting of three suits. A suit for beginners and those doing short to middle distance and a premium product which offers the best flexibility and thermal comfort. You can explore Orca’s range of products here.