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What kit do I need for SwimRun?

Written by Fiona

March 16 2021

swim run

Swim-run is a race event that challenges people to swim and run a course of many different distances. Competing in pairs, the SwimRunners will swim lakes and lochs, then run on dry land, then swim another section of water – and repeat.

SwimRun is popular in Scotland and across the rest of the UK, as well as Europe and worldwide. In fact, the original SwimRun is called Ötillö, which means “island-to-island”. The event sees athletes travel 24 islands by running across them and swimming between them.

The total distance of the Swedish event is 75km of which 10km is open water swimming and 65km is trail running. The Ötillö is considered one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges. See

9 important items of kit for SwimRun

SwimRun wetsuit

Competitors are required to wear wetsuits that are suitable for cold water swimming. You can choose to buy a swimming specific wetsuit with full length arms and legs and then cut them shorter to suit (remember that you will end up very warm in a full length wetsuit when running).

Alternatively, why not buy a SwimRun specific wetsuit? The advantage of these are designed for this type of event.

The swimrun wetsuits have different lengths of arms, from over the elbow to above the elbow, bicep length and sleeveless.

You could also buy separate shorts and a wetsuit top, for greater versatility.

Choose a wetsuit to suit your gender – and ensure you are careful to measure yourself and check that you buy the right size of wetsuit so that it fits neatly.

Wetsuits are sold in different thicknesses for different water temperatures. Remember that you will be running in the wetsuit and that means that while the water will be chillier, you may end up hot when running. Many swimrun wetsuits have front and back zips so that the suits can be peeled down to waist height while running.

There are different SwimRun styles and sizes in a range of budgets. See Addnature for a great choice.

Wetsuit sleeves

Conditions can change from one race to another and from one training session to another. It is a good idea to have kit that gives you flexibility. Wetsuit sleeves can be added on chillier days, or left at home when it’s warmer.

Choose footwear that lets water out. Credit: Ross Dolder

SwimRun footwear

Competitors wear their footwear in the water while swimming and also for running. It’s important to choose shoes that allow water to easily escape when you are back on dry land.

You will have wet feet – it’s inevitable – but the less water carried in the shoes the better. Wear footwear that is comfortable and has soles with good grip to suit the terrain, but also with uppers made of fabric that allows the water to easily get out. Check out the tips in this article.

SwimRun pullbuoy

A float, or pullbuoy, (no larger than 100cm by 60cm) can be used during the swims to compensate for the weight and drag of footwear. It is useful if the pulbuoy has straps so you can attach to your body when swimming and running.

When running you secure the buoy in position on the outside of the leg/thigh and then when its time to get into the water, the buoy can be swivelled into position between your legs, to keep them from sinking.

SwimRun tow float

Brightly coloured tow floats are essential kit for outdoor swimmers and in some swimrun races they are mandatory kit. They increase your visibility in the water, whether swimming solo or in a group and with minimal interference to your swimming.

If you need to rest or require assistance, the tow float will offer buoyant support capable of supporting your weight.

Drybag float

Another great item, similar to a tow float but with capacity for carrying kit both in and out of the water is a dry bag float.

Hand paddles

Hand paddles are allowed in swimrun events. They are one of the many useful swimrun accessories. The paddles increase the area of your hand and offer more power. However, you need to train with hand paddles because they are far more tiring to arms and upper body than using only your hands to propel you through the water.

Tethering bungee

Tethering bungees (or similar) that link the two swimrun competitors together are part of this type of race. An Orca Swimrun bungee cord is a good example.

Swim Cap

Race bibs and swim caps must be worn and should be visible at all times during a swimrun race. When training, a swim cap will stop your hair from getting into your face and also offers visibility for safety. You can wear different thicknesses of swim cap from silicone to neoprene depending on the conditions.

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