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Risks and dangers for racers in Swimrun

As a prelude to the discussion about the risks of Swimrun on the body, it seems essential to present this activity in full expansion in Europe and throughout the world.

There were 40 races in Europe (2-3 countries maximum) but today there are more than 50 events in France alone. France being the second nation after Sweden the cradle of the discipline in terms of race and competitor.

But this is important, the Swimrun is also in his mind outside the races in training sessions or simply sharing a sporting moment with other people. For a while, communities are forming and outings are organized without any goal to go towards the competition but only enjoy the moment. Some even engage in adventure roaming Swimrun by transporting bivouac equipment like The Swimrun Mediterranean raid last June or the expedition to Lake Baikal scheduled in the summer of 2018.


However, it seems to me essential to follow the initial approach of the 4 Originals and commit to the following 4 pillars.

These 4 pillars enrich this sport and give it his universality.

  • Effort: A symbol of sport with or without competition and where everybody can to excel yourself or in group
  • Sharing: Sharing with a partner making the Moment even more intense but also a guarantee of safety in open water or in trail as soon as one is in isolated areas. The union of our forces helps us to move forward.
  • Respect of Human: Respect for competitors and just a friendly moment . In addition, we want a clean Swimrun without doping
  • Respect of Nature: That is essential everybody limits his impact on the fragile environment and learns about the different possibilities of path. Let us to live in the respect and universality of this population.


Now that we understand a little more about the Swimrun, we will clarify the dangers and risks of this sport.

Most incidents during swimrun releases are injuries following a fall or shock. The terrain and the environment maximize the risk of falls on slippery rocks or the technical level in trail running. However, there are many other phenomena to consider.



security and tactics

Biological function of the body ensuring the constancy of the internal temperature of the body (homeothermia) and balancing thermogenesis and thermolysis.

The exercise seems easy but finding this balance (homeothermic) between swimming in cold water and race with combination defines the main difficulty of this sport.

If thermogenesis prevails, we risk hyperthermia and if the thermolysis is superior, the risk is hypothermia. All this is simple but the dangers are real and very quickly present.


Hypothermia is mostly in direct connection with the middle of swimming in cold water.

The use of neoprene suits is essential below 20 ° C.

In Swimrun, we encounter only moderate hypothermia and that vs the duration of the race.

The signs and occurrence of hypothermia in swimrun are increased by:

  • dehydration (ergonomics of the race, number of energy stations, accessible drinking water, salt water ..)
  • tiredness induced by poor diet (calorific balance), also the climatic conditions (wind, humidity according to the geographical areas)
  • thrills

During the first swimming in open water in cold water, the main risk is not the hydrocution but the drowning with ++ adrenaline (inhalation with acute pulmonary oedema and heart arrets possible)


Hyperthermia appears very quickly in Swimrun and the consequences can be lethal :

  • dehydration
  • tactical choice to stop in energy station
  • some doping products increase the thermogenesis
  • The wetsuit is the masterpiece of hyperthermia. In swimrun, they provided with a rear zip but also before to ventilate the body during the effort.
  • It is essential to remove the swimming cap during the race sections

The direct consequences of a malignant hyperthermia are:

  • fast tiredness
  • nausea and diarrhea
  • cramps by the electrolytic losses (sweat ++ according to hygrometry for example)
  • an intense thirst with a “roasted” tongue (dysphagia by collapse of salivary secretions)
  • a psychomotor behavior with an aggressive tendency with an increase in spatio-temporal disorientation
  • heart arrest with global rhabdomyolysis

As we saw earlier, water is an important unknown in Swimrun

It emerges from the tactical choices during a race or training to limit the water losses of our body but to bring the sufficient volumes.

The tactical choices will be:

  • location of the course with water points
  • drinking water in the lake ideal to hydrate during the swimming sections (Lake Annecy, ….)
  • flask in wetsuit, belt
  • salt water, the risk of diarrhea and abdominal pain is increased be careful with microbia-abdominal pathologies as well as ORL


The Swimrun is an exciting activity that requires to know his physical and mental capacities (without overestimating oneself) but also to share with others for pleasure and security.

Conditions are updated, sessions are planned (choice of gear, food, water…….)

“Considering that the numbers of swimrun races are growing and since they are now held in many different kinds of freshwater / brackish / saltwater environments, close to cities, near farmland or in this information is even more relevant. Further down we have listed some dangers from microbes, algae and jellyfish found in temperate climates and what you can do to avoid them. In short, to protect yourself »

/ JC Bastiani swimrun coach & nurse

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