Interview ÖtillÖ Swimrun World Champions 2021 Oscar Olsson, Adriel Young – english version

During all the ÖtillÖ season, Oscar and Adriel amped up their game. Their victories at WS UtÖ (Max and Adriel) and Gothenburg pushed them in the spotlight. With the last minute injury of Pontus Lindberg, Adriel & Oscar were seen as a serious challenger to the world championship title.

Swimrun France: Hi Oscar, Hi Adriel, First of all congrats Hail for the brand new ÖtillÖ World Champions ! Could you introduce yourselves (professional and sport background) and the way you two met and paired together? 

Adriel Young: Thank you. I was fortunate that we got to play a heap of different sports growing up. I wasn’t really good at any but I loved sport and tried everything. I started getting involved in endurance sports at the end of 2012 when I was a Professional Lifeguard on the beach. Me and a few mates signed up to do an Ironman, was a great experience. I did triathlon up until the end of 2015 and got some great experiences through the sport in those 3 years. In 2016 I signed up to race ÖtillÖ with Eva Fundin, I didn’t know so much about the course or even the sport back then but we had a great day out. Professionally I have worked as a ocean lifeguard on Bondi Beach in Australia and also in Florida in the US before moving with my wife to Sweden were I now have an office job. Oscar and I met obviously through swimrun, we raced against each other and thats the best with Swimrun its a great community unlike other sports here people are so genuinely friendly, I know its a small sport but I hope it stays like that. 

Oscar Olsson: Thank you! I started with soccer at young age, and from there I tried all different team sports in my youth, soccer was the one I stuck with, but also trained Track and field for some years as junior and did quiet well in 800m,1500m, long jump, High jump and Pole vault.  When I was around 21 I found Triathlon and did that for nearly 10 years, with 8-10 Ironmans. In 2011 I found Swimrun for the first time, In 2013 I did my first proper race (Ö-loppet, todays ÖTILLÖ Gothenburg). I met Adriel first time in a Triathlon race I think… in 2014.. and then later on also in Swimrun. He’s always been such a great athlete on and off the course, so it was a pleasure to race with him as soon I got the chance, first time in 2018 at ÖTILLÖ Engadin I think.  

SRF: Oscar, before teaming up with Adriel, you had severals swimrun partners in the past years. How can one grow his relationship skillset with different team mate ?
OO: When it comes to Swimrun, and seeing how the sport is evolving I first think it’s getting more and more important to try to work more and more with the same partner, in order to get the racing team go as fast as possible. With that said, you can not always effect the outcome when racing in teams when you are depended on others. There fore its also very important to be able to work on your relationship skillset in order to be able to race with more then one. I guess you grow your skillset by training and racing with different people, staying open for people being different, listen with a open mind and accept we are all different, focusing rather on each persons strengths rather then “weaknesses”  

SRF: Adriel, Back in the days, your « aussie » sport background gave you an interesting and different skill-set, especially in the water. What kind of skill transfer do you think was the most useful in your opinion ?

AY: I guess for me the best skill I have is I am just very comfortable in the water. I find it very relaxing to be in the ocean especially when its rough. I spent a lot of time throwing myself in the ocean when the conditions were dangerous so its just something that is now very natural to me.

SRF: Before getting in the thick of the OtillO WC 2021, you two have to qualify for the finale. How did the OtillO World Series 2021 season unfold for you with the pandemic constraint ?

AY: Personally I like to race to come in form so it wasn’t the easiest for me, but luckily I got to race a few times this year which definitely helped. I raced ÖtillÖ Utö with Max and we won, this was a good form check as it was the first race in a long time and it was definitely one of the if not the strongest start field I have seen at a SwimRun race.

Then raced Engadin with Oscar and we didn’t have a great day but it was good to have banked a 5.5hr session and finished 2nd. Then we raced Gothenburg and had a great day, Oscar was super strong here and we managed to take the win in a strong field. Training wise it was relatively hard for me personally to be motivated after 2020 and races getting cancelled, I stayed fit but there wasn’t much volume but I definitely picked up the training towards ÖtillÖ and had some good key sessions with Oscar and the boys here

SRF: At what point in the season, you think you had a shot for the WC title ? Do you think the Covid-19 was a strong factor regarding the athlete’s shape ? 

AY: I guess we knew after 2018 that we were always going to have a shot at it but I was never confident we would win it. Yeah maybe not Covid specifically but I guess its like every year you have to do everything in your power to turn up on the line in the best shape you can, that’s part of racing, avoid injury by doing the volume your body can handle and that’s the same on race day to not make mistakes when you’re under pressure. I like to see it as an iceberg; all the things you do before the race are under the surface, no one sees that, the training, the small injuries, preparing/testing equipment and nutrition, juggling full time work and family life. And then there is the part of the iceberg everyone sees which is race day, and that’s a very important part but its not as big and its not the part that keeps it all floating. 

OO: I think Covid-19 made peoples shape even better, people got to train more than usually when racing is ON, sometimes I think people over did it during Covid-19, trained too much and got injured instead… As an athlete it’s important to be able to adapt to whatever circumstance occur, both in racing and in preparations going into the race. So, for me, it’s just about HOW you chose to handle what’s being thrown at you.

SRF: We met several times during the swimrun season, and I was surprised that in WS Engadin (Switzerland), you were part of the Media Team on Saturday and competing on Sunday ? Could you tell us about that surprising fact ?

2021-07-10 OtillO Engadin Sprint and Experience
2021-07-10 OtillO Engadin Sprint and Experience

AY:  Yeah well Oscar is the engine here, he started covering on Instagram a local race here in Gothenburg and I raced one day and when I got home I went back and looked at the coverage and it was really cool. SO I wrote to him and said, you need to do something with this. So was born. SwimRun is a hard sport for spectators to follow but with the knowledge of the sport that Oscar and I have we aim to bring spectators a front row seat to the action. The ultimate goal for us is to help grow the sport and other smaller sports that are often hard to cover live and hopefully give the athletes the spot light they deserve.

SRF: Could you elaborate on your live FB coverage service and how the social media could leverage our sport to the masses ? In your opinion what would be the roadmap for the sport to hit the mainstream media more often ?

AY: Yeah as I said, I guess we see social media channels the easiest and best way just now to spread the sport to spectators and give an up close look into the inside of Swimrun racing. As the sport grows this hopefully will just be a compliment to a larger production.

SRF: There was a live FB coverage at the ÖtillÖ finale, but you were, in the Stockholm archipelago, busy trying to increase your lead at the front of the race, weren’t you ? When did you decide to move your game up ? Some of us were betting that you’ll wait for OrnÖ, what was the 2021 strategy ? I think in 2019 there was a pretty good peloton at the front during a long time, almost playing mind games . 

AY: Yeah I guess the first part of the course suits us, here is the more technical running sections, we knew this was our strength and we talked there might be a chance we would be alone here. We also talked a lot about 2019 and said we weren’t interested in playing those games this year, we just wanted to go out, do our own race and be proud that we gave it everything we had as a team and didn’t finish with the feeling we didn’t give it our all. 

SRF: Adriel seemed to struggle a little bit at the end and from the outside, maybe we thought there could be a finish battle. Were you aware of Hugo, Matthieu, Fredrik, Lars positions during the last part of the race ?

AY: Yeah I definitely struggled with cramping at the end, if it wasn’t for that last aid station I think we would have lost the race. I found out after the race that I had lots of small tears in both hamstrings and the fascia from running on my cramped legs. But as I said before it is part of racing, we had to walk for a bit and try to not stress but we knew we had 6-7mins lead already, we lost a bit of time but then when we got going again we got that time back and finished with that same gap. 

first part of the race when Oscar & Adriel were flying thru the woods, then second part near the end where Adriel cramped badly

OO: I had never any doubt that Adriel should fade in the end, he was strong all day long, it was all about pacing us. We where well aware where the others coming from behind. We didn’t need to take any risks in the end, more play it safe to not get cramped up, we also knew the others had to take risk if they wanted to catch up to us. 

SRF: So You’re the Champions, at the finish line what’s all about this champagne shoes ritual Adriel ? How did you two guys feel when you break the record and win the ÖtillÖ ?

AY: Yeah, what can you say, I was super happy to win, I think also for me to share that with Oscar who has been so dedicated to win this race was great. Personally I wanted to walk up the last hill but we couldn’t with everyone screaming at us to break the record, I am now glad they did as that was the icing on the cake. I think if someone has a good day they should have no trouble at all going closer to 7.15. The Shoey, its a bit of a thing from home that comes from a late night at the pubs, then a few of the Aussie F1 drivers started doing it on the podium, so I have just started doing it as a bit of fun. Eva was never that keen to drink out of my shoe but as soon as I started racing in the mens it was game on.haha. 

SRF: Some of the best french teams are closing the gap in the men category, in your opinion what’s missing for them to gun for the title ? 

AY: Yeah they are getting faster and faster and are great athletes. I guess its not long before we see them on the top step. I would say for Swimrun its the ability to combine a lot of small things. First feeling confident in the technical running, not stressing as you can’t burn excessive energy or risk injury, and that just comes with time training on that terrain I guess. Then I would say transitions, in and out of the water smooth constant flow between swimming and running, not stressing, again this comes with more training and racing and it becomes second nature. Then finally I would say being comfortable being uncomfortable. We all go out run training in nice dry shoes, comfy t-shirts and shorts, or swimming in a pool but swimrun isn’t like that you have to be comfortable with running with all the gear and you’re probably going to get chaff or a blister somewhere and probably fall over at some point and most likely take a wave to the face and swallow some water but its about being able to find comfort and relaxing in those those uncomfortable times. 

OO: The french teams are coming for sure. No one could be happier than us! The higher the competition gets, the better it will be for the sport and the more it can continue to grow. I dont think they are missing that much, they are still new to the sport and with some more racing they ll be up there! 

SRF: What are your projects now ?

AY: No racing planned for me. Now it’s family time. 

SRF: Which are the companies supporting your sport career nowadays ?

AY: We wouldn’t have been on the start line without the support we received from Anna-Karin at I have been supported during this season by Koda Nutrition and Huub but also in our World Championship campaign we were lucky to work with the awesome team from Ark. 

SRF: Thank you guys to have accepted to give us a sneak peek of your personalities, I hope that it’ll convince the french swimrunners to follow your next adventures.

👉Oscar Olsson IG @o2_coaching

👉Adriel Young IG @swimrun_world