Adriel weathers storm to defend SwimRun world title

Aussie Adriel Young and Swede Eva Nystrom cross the finish line first in the mixed division at the 2017 SwimRun World Championships on September 4. Photo: Jakob Edholm/Otillo

A RAGING sea, battering winds and driving rain hit one of the world’s toughest endurance races – the 2017 Otillo SwimRun World Championships – on September 4 along Sweden’s Stockholm archipelago.

But instead of dreading the horrific conditions on the gruelling 75km inter-island course, Sydney native Adriel Young and his Swedish “Thule Crew” teammate Eva Nystrom chose to embrace them, and went on to secure their second consecutive mixed division world title by the narrowest of margins.

Young – a former Bondi Beach lifeguard and Ironman triathlete currently based in Sweden – and Nystrom joined forces once again to swim between, and run and climb on, 26 rocky islands, along with 148 other men’s, women’s and mixed teams of two.

As conditions worsened during the day, they were able to maintain their pace and a slender lead to finish in 9 hours, 1 minute and 31 seconds – just 38 seconds in front of Swedish duo Staffan Bjorklund and Marika Wagner.

“The tough conditions suited us – we like it when it is rough in the water like that,” Young told The AJN from Sweden last week.

“We dug so deep – you just keep pushing yourselves for the team and individual performance goes out the window.

“Eva and I work really well together, and you have to in a race like this.”

Young said they had no specific race plan, but made sure they did all the basics right.

“We just raced to how we were feeling. We made sure we had a good nutrition plan and tried to keep an even pace from start to finish. It’s always tough to go and defend a win … so I definitely felt the pressure, but as soon as the gun goes it becomes second nature and the race just flows.

“We didn’t have our best performance [compared to last year when they broke the course record] but it was enough on the day, and Eva as always was so strong.

“There’s no better feeling than crossing the line, no matter if you are first or last at this race – and to have my wife and six-month-old daughter there watching this year made it really special.”

He will return to Sydney in May to organise and compete in the SwimRun Australia Championships, and hopes to team up with Nystrom again at next year’s SwimRun World Championships. “I know we can go so much faster over that course,” he said.

SHANE DESIATNIK