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Interview: Alexis Charrier. “I personally think that a swimmer adapts better to swimrun.”

Swimrun athlete Alexis Charrier was the cover model of the August issue of Outdoor Swimmer magazine. We caught up with him to chat swimrun.

How did you find out you were on the cover of Outdoor Swimmer?

It was rather a surprise! I opened my email one morning and found out one of the pictures from a recent swimrun had been selected!

What attracted you to Swimrun?

I started doing SwimRun with my dad two years ago. I have been swimming pretty much my whole life and my dad came from an ultra-running background, so we decided to combine both of our “skills” to try out a new type of event. We were attracted by the wildness and natural aspect of the event considering that our first race was in Costa Brava (42km). We were also attracted by overcoming each of our weaknesses as my longest race event at that time was 200m and my dad wasn’t much of a swimmer. We had the fun of our lives even though it was hard! I think that is what I still look for in a race, being able to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone and exploring new places (and nature) through sporting events.

What’s the best Swimrun event you’ve done?

It is difficult to single out one that is better than the others as they all have individual characteristics that make each of them unique. I have appreciated all the events I have done and created very good memories about each of them. I do think though that my recent favourite is the Vivobarefoot SwimRun in Bantham at the Vivoretreat we did in June with Sabina. It had a singular aspect that made it different to other SwimRuns we have done, such as an arch you need to swim through, a bell to ring, a pledge to sustainability atop a hill to continue the race, and much other fun stuff… I think it was a bit different because the whole weekend we were part of a (barefoot) “family”.

Who adapts best to Swimrun – swimmers or runners?

I personally think that a swimmer adapts better to SwimRun. I say that because swimming comes mainly down to technique and the overall position and movement you have in the water. I think you lose a lot more energy in the water than on land as well, so if you can optimise your effort/performance in the water you can save a lot of energy that can be used on the running sections.

What advice do you have for someone doing their first Swimrun?

Prepare physically and make sure you have tested your equipment. Training accordingly depending on the distance of the race will make your life a lot easier on the day. One thing that can really complicate an event is having the wrong gear for yourself. Whether it is a wetsuit that is not the right size or shoes that are uncomfortable, swimrunning for several hours with unsuitable gear can quickly become a nightmare.

Finally, training with your partner is crucial. Agreeing on the way you are going to get through the race beforehand will remove a lot of potential frustration during your time on the course. For example, most swimrunners use a tether linking both partners. The length of the tether is important as if you are too close to your partner, you end up with your face in his feet whilst swimming. If it is too long, then you are too far away and end up using more energy than necessary to swim.

What kit couldn’t you do without for Swimrun?

A good pair of shoes, a wetsuit adequate for the weather, a pullbuoy and goggles. This comes back to the previous question. A good pair of running shoes that you have tested and trust will allow you to comfortably move on the running sections. Getting cold or too hot during a race can really hinder your performance, so a wetsuit adequately chosen according to the weather on race day is important. Swimming with a pullbuoy will allow your legs to rest during the swim sections and give you more energy for running. And finally, good goggles will ease your swims and facilitate navigation.

Read about the Vivoretreat swimrun event in the August issue of Outdoor Swimmer magazine.

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.