(Oct 30th 2019) please find below an interview with the “rock steady” Mäkelä brothers (Jaakko and Ville). These “Brothers in Arms”were 8th overall in the ÖtillÖ Swimrun World Championships this year!. Having done well over 120 races together they are just getting better and better! One area they have definitely improved is their swimming skills. So I asked them a few questions about the swimming aspect in swimrun.
What kind of swim training do you mainly do over the base period from Autumn to May?
“We still have very little experience in swimming so we really try to focus on our technique while swimming. We have trained the past few years with coaches pretty much in every training and it has been essential. You can find us in the pool three times a week at the moment and we follow programs provided by Guilherme Reis / Lane4. It seems to be working because we are still improving! Example training from today:1. warm up2. 8*100 IM3. 8*25 w/fins fast4. 1*800m A15. 4*200m progressive A1–>A36. 1*800m A17. 2*400m A1/A28. cool down”
What do you think is the most difficult thing to learn in openwater swimming?
“In the open water, you just have to navigate and take care of not losing your mate. We don’t really find it that much more difficult than swimming in a pool. Just learn it by swimming in open waters and not only in Kaitalampi. Drafting is one thing you really have to learn in swimming to save energy and be faster while racing over long courses. Swimrun is a team sport and your teammate helps you to be faster. Just like in Jukola relay, it is important to benefit from the other teams to be faster.”
How important is the swimrun gear in swimrun?
“Crucial. Pull buoy has to be as light as possible and as big as it can be inside rules. Wetsuit has to be light and suitable for running fast because running will heat you up in the races. Cold water has never been an issue for us and you can always add a thermo layer under your wetsuit. T-shirt / gear vest under wetsuit has to have proper pockets for gels etc. (we have made our own!). Shoes must have good grip, stability over rocks, some “puncture resistant” and drain well. We tried to use minimal shoes for the first years because they felt light and were fast in short sections. Unfortunately, it won´t work over longer course. Nowadays even best marathoners tend to use cushioned shoes to preserve energy. Paddles has to be the size you can swim long distances. Most use quite big ones, We have strokemaker size 2 or similar size for Ötillö and for shorter races bigger ones. Pull cord is important to have – it must be just the right length as well. While swimming, backswimmer must be almost hitting the feet of the front swimmer every now and then, then you have right cord length. Just remember to train with your gear in racing speeds and be accustomed in the gear. Short races are the ones were some testing can be done.
Do you follow any training program if so, how does it work?
Not really at the moment, except for swimming. We both have currently some leg injuries after long season and we are now charging batteries and doing gym training while being on ”service”. We have never had proper training plans for any sport but maybe next year? During the week, trainings are usually easy and short, sometimes fast. At the weekends, we do longer and harder sessions. At winter, we do xc skiing a lot and our strength has always been versatility in training and racing year around. You can also find us cycling, orienteering, playing floorball and kayaking for example. Our training mantra is ”aina ei voi olla hyvä olla” and then you’ll know you improve. Remember to have “polarity” in your sports. Go slow, go hard, go short and go long and everything in between. Endurance athletes need to have right kind of power and stability in the body so find your own way to do cross training.