After a three-year hiatus, the Australian Swimrun Championships are only just around the corner, taking place as part of the Swimrun Australia: Sydney East event on Saturday 29th April.
Defending their 2019 titles will be the mixed team of Mitchell Frankish and Moya Johansson – looking for their third consecutive win – and the men’s team made up of ex-pro Ironman competitors, Luke McKenzie and Brett Carter.
Both teams are excited to be back on the Sydney East course, with this particular swimrun holding a special spot in Mr Frankish’s heart.
“Moya and I can’t wait to be back on the course and racing again after the break due to Covid,” said Mr Frankish.
“It’s a special event for me because last time I did the event in 2019 with Moya, I brought my new girlfriend along to try and impress her and since then I’ve married her and we now have a little boy together.
“So, it’s safe to say that both Moya and I are really excited to be back and to see my little boy’s face at the finish line.”
Similar to Mr Frankish and Ms Johansson, defending male champions Mr McKenzie and Mr Carter are excited for the Sydney East event to be back after a great experience in 2019.
“The 2019 Swimrun Australia event was mine and Luke’s first swimrun event and it was awesome,” said Mr Carter.
“The race was incredible to do with a partner and the course is just spectacular, so it is really great to see the event back up and running again after its hiatus.
“Luke and I are excited to have another fun time similar to last time, with a race full of banter between the two of us.
“In 2019, it was our first time, so we had no idea what we were doing, or what the course was like, so we had plenty of laughs along the way and the best part was being able to do it all with one of my mates as my partner rather than having to race against him.”
While both teams are training differently leading up to the event, they are both in similar circumstances in that they can’t always train together.
“Both Brett and I try to do three swims a week and at least four runs,” said Mr McKenzie.
“The majority of our swimming is done with our paddles and pull buoys on, so we are prepared for the event.
“We also do one swim session straight into a hard run session. We also do another swim where we alternate between pull and kick reps.
“We try to get as many sessions in together and at least a practice run or two before race day.”
Mr Frankish and Ms Johansson don’t live near each other so their training differs slightly from Mr Carter and Mr McKenzie’s.
“Both Mitch and I live quite far apart nowadays, so it is difficult to be able to train together all the time,” said Ms Johansson.
“While we do train separately, we keep each other updated on what sessions we are doing.
“We also have a plan in place to train together every weekend in the lead-up to the event.”
With swimrun being a team event, it’s crucial to find a good partner to get through the race. Luckily both teams hit the jackpot in finding a good teammate but even they admit that they still have their challenges.
“Both Moya and I have been very close friends for many years now and have always just seemed to be in sync,” said Mr Frankish.
“We both are lucky that we are a similar level runner and swimmer, so that makes our team dynamic work that much easier during the race.
“I don’t think we spoke more than 10 words to each other in both our previous wins. Which is actually really nice because Moya talks an awful lot.”
Mr Carter and Mr McKenzie have a similar strategy, that being similar fitness levels makes their racing experience that much easier.
“It’s great that Luke and I are evenly matched because we can share the workload in the swim legs and alternate wash rides,” said Mr Carter.
“We are also both strong runners so we alternate leads and continually check our paces, so we don’t blow up on the way home.
“I would say though if you are partnered with someone who is a better swimmer than you, they should try to lead the way and sight easy spots to get in and out of the water while guiding your teammate to make it easier on them.”
We asked both teams what their favourite parts of the Sydney East course were and while they were both different they all agreed the course is full of spectacular views.
“We both love the little sections of trail in the national parks along the course,” said Ms Johansson.
“It makes us feel like we’re in the middle of the bush and then suddenly we pop out in some of Sydney’s most beautiful Eastern suburbs.”
“Brett and I love the sections near Watson’s Bay and Camp Cove because they are absolutely stunning,” said Mr McKenzie.
“It is amusing seeing the looks of the locals out there on their morning walks whilst you’re running along the road with paddles on your hands and a pull buoy on your leg.”