SA latest fitness craze: A wild new sport that requires you to swim in running shoes

Business Insider SA
Photo: Caleb Bjergfelt/Torpedo Swim
  • Torpedo SwimRunning is the rugged aquatic evolution of trail running and open-water swimming.
  • A Swedish invention, it’s becoming hugely popular in South Africa.
  • The first SwimRun was held last year in SA.

Torpedo SwimRuns are a mixed discipline adventure sport where participants complete a route which requires running, scrambling (climbing) and swimming. A combination of the latter is referred to as a swamble in Torpedo SwimRun lexicon.

The SwimRun movement has its origins in Sweden, which is unsurprising considering the vast archipelagos there, which make for a perfectly blended route of cross country running and parallel swimming venues.

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Race distances vary, but the zenith of it is that you’ll run, climb, jump into water and swim. A lot.

Photo: Caleb Bjergfelt/Torpedo Swim

Part aquatic cross-country, part ravine adventuring, SwimRunning is tough. A basic requirement is open water swimming proficiency: you need to confidently be capable of swimming 2km without bother.

Add in the drag of those shoes, and the swim sections are a lot more challenging than a conventional swimming event.

Teams or individuals can compete, but they are expected to carry their own equipment and considering some of the steeper scrambles and jumps involved, a helmet was compulsory at the start of a recent SwimRun event in Wilderness.

Photo: Caleb Bjergfelt/Torpedo Swim

So how do you swim with a helmet? Helmets are required because the swamble segment can have nasty consequences if participants slip and fall, but at a certain point they can be discarded, once the steeper rocky section are completed.

Most South African SwimRunners use lightweight cycling helmets, which offer good ventilation. 

And swimming in running shoes, that’s not easy? Well, no, it isn’t but that is all part of the challenge.

For teams there is the additional pressure of staying together among all the running, climbing, leaping and swimming. Individuals comprising a team must finish within 10m of each other to register a successful Torpedo time.

Photo: Caleb Bjergfelt/Torpedo Swim

The next SwimRun is scheduled for 18 November in Cape Town.

The route covers 16km - including a 3km swim over six different segments and a 13km run in six segments - from Sandy Bay to Clifton.

Teams of two people must start and finish together and cannot be separated by more than 10m.

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