I founded Breca with a simple goal: to bring the extraordinary sport of swimrun to the UK. I had been blown away by the format in Sweden when I first raced in 2012; it was a magical experience that encapsulated all the things I enjoy about endurance racing. More than that, it felt important – the start of a new movement – and I couldn’t wait to race closer to home. Year after year ticked by, and still there were no swimruns. After a few quiet drinks with my teammate, I resolved that this could continue no longer: a race needed to happen.
The next step was to find the perfect venue for the launch event. I had a clear vision of what I wanted: wild swims, extensive trail, an exciting route and stunning countryside. The place I found was the Buttermere valley: not so much the perfect venue, but a genuine swimrun crucible, as anyone who has raced there will attest!
To build the course, I ran every route in the Buttermere valley in both directions to find the best lines. I persuaded a friend to test the route in early May, not anticipating the 8°c water temperatures we suffered through around the course. Friends and family were recruited to join the event team, and off we went. Of the 14 teams who raced in August 2015, almost all are still racing with us to this day. We’ve grown the series to four event weekends covering the breadth of the country; each has its own unique atmosphere and challenge. We’ve added ‘sprint’ distances to bring the sport to a wider audience. We’ve established a two-race series in New Zealand, and in doing so became the first swimrun organisation to have races on two continents.
Breca is no longer a one-man-show: today we have an amazing team and fantastic volunteers who come together to put on our events. What unites us is a passion for swimrun and a desire to guide a sport that is still in its genesis in a positive direction. To this end, we have led the way with our eco-friendly approach to event management: our entire 2017 series was cup-free, an initiative that has been copied by swimrun organisations all over the world. Long-term, our goal is to have a zero-waste series. Achieving this will be a journey, but one you can join us on by sharing your ideas for how we can improve.
I see swimrun becoming a high-profile sport, and Breca being synonymous with the most challenging races, beautiful locations and elite athletes. To get there, we need to support our existing community and bring new people into the sport.
Thank you all for being part of our story, it’s been such a pleasure to be part of such a vibrant, friendly community. I’m so excited to see what the future holds and where we can take this amazing sport, and I hope you’ll join us for the ride.
All the best,
Founder, Breca Swimrun
The history of swimrun
In 2002 two teams challenged each other to run and swim 75km over 26 islands in the Stockholm archipelago. The rules were simple: the last team had to drink and pay for the rounds at the bars lining the route.
From this beginning the sport of swimrun was born. Events take place on trail and in open water; teams race in pairs wearing a wetsuit and trainers, transitioning seamlessly between running stages and swimming stages.
The breca name
Breca is a character from the Old English epic poem Beowulf. In the poem, Breca and Beowulf are old friends who have to escape danger by swimming together for seven days and seven nights through an icy, windswept sea. Breca is the first home, but Beowulf decides his was the greater victory as he stopped to fight sea monster along the way.
For us, this captures many of the elements that makes swimrun unique: sharing the journey with a friend, battling against the elements and sharing stories of the adventure once you’re safely home.