interview witn Fanny Kuhn
How does it feel being a Champion?
Fanny Kuhn is one of the strongest swimrunners in the world. World champion in 2019 in team with Desiree Andersson. Always smiling, open to communication, she inspires people to try swimrun, and of course she does everything to develop our favorite sport. Exclusive interview with Fanny specifically for Come On SWIMRUN.
Fanny Kuhn
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Why swimrun?
— Because I love the adventure part of it, and getting to swim and travel to different places. Also the whole community around Swimrun is so great and friendly, and I really agree with all the values it stands for in general such as health, nature, sustainability and comradery.
How does it feel being a Champion?
— Not so different :) I feel an accomplishment of finally reaching my goal to win this competition. I am also very proud to be able to call myself a world champion and sometimes almost cannot believe we did it!
Do you feel the aura and magic that surround a Champion in eyes of other people?
— I guess a little bit, people are interested to hear your opinion about things related to the sport and I am happy to help and inspire people to get into Swimrun.
Champions are made or born?
— Definitely made. It is mostly about mental power. Sure, you can be born with a certain body or skills that can make it easier, but I think in endurance sports it is about your mindset, which you can practice and improve.
...the whole community around Swimrun is so great and friendly, and I really agree with all the values it stands for in general such as health, nature, sustainability and comradery.
How it feels to cross the finish line first?
— It feels amazing, and I always feel a sense of accomplishment, like I came and did what I was supposed to do. Sharing it with Desiree* is the best part.
*Fannys teammate in last two years – Desiree Andersson (instagram, facebook)
What do you think about when you stand on the podium?
— I feel proud, and think of what we have accomplished. I also appreciate all the people in the audience that are cheering and how great it is that we all get to have such an amazing experience together.
What is most important in first place?
You mean when leading? I think to keep it cool and manage to do your race even as you planned even if you are chased, and know your body's abilities so that you push and adapt smartly according to the situation since these races are very long.
What was the most pleasant congratulation?
— That is hard. Among many others, my closest family and my husband Jonathan that are always believing in me. Then also getting a hug from Michael Lemmel and Mats Skott at the finish line :)
Where are you from? And where do you live now?
— Form Stockholm Sweden, now I live in Barcelona.
What were your first steps in sport? How have you come in swimrun?
— I was a swimmer since a child, having a long and successful pool swimming career. I got into Swimrun after I was done with swimming, looking for a new challenge. My friend Pär Kristoffersson made me try it – ÖTILLÖ Utö Swimrun for the first time, the full distance! I had only ran like 10K before that, but could not say no to the challenge. Since that race (which we somehow managed to win) I was hooked.
First experience and first swimrun race. How it was?
— It was that that Race, Utö 2015, and it was painful, cold and completely wonderful. Cool to be in nature and also different sharing the experience with a friend as a team. But I also remember my whole back and legs cramping up at the end, and Pär had to literally push me forward (we did not use a tether). I definitely needed some running training!
How to become a Champion?
— You can read a bit about that here - WILD Swimrun.
Was it your dream from the childhood?
— No, because I didn't know Swimrun existed. When I was young, I dreamed about doing the Olympics in pool swimming. Winning the World Championship was a dream from the first time I did ÖtillÖ, which was 2015, and got in 3rd place. Since then I tried 5 years and finally made it!
Your parents took a big part in your results, didn't they?
— Yes, my mom Kerstin and my dad Peter have always been very supportive of my sports. Especially in the swimming days, they always drove me to practice and spent their weekend in the swimming pools supporting me and my sister Anna when we competed. Now with Swimrun, they always come to the competitions if they are in Sweden and cheer us on. It is amazing to have their support. For ÖtillÖ, they event brought a boat to follow us along the course.
What is the role of coach in your results? Do you have coach in swimrun or you train yourself?
— Not really a personal coach to be honest, I train with a coach in my Swimming group here in Barcelona, and have now joined a trail running group that also has a coach. I've had some help and tips from experienced friends along the way as well.
What is the role of family in your results?

— My sister is also with them and support me! I also have an amazing husband that is both supporting everything I do, but also takes me to the real world sometimes and makes me sane when it is time to rest – as I am such an "always on" person, so this is very much needed for the life balance.

Where do you work?
— I have a background and education in digital marketing and now I work at, a digital platform for everything around endurance racing. It is really fun to be able to combine my work with my passion for sports and health.
Do you have sponsors or partners?
— Yes, I am a Head swimming and Vivobarefoot ambassador and will also compete 2020 for WILD Swimrun.
How sport helps in life?
— I think it helps in all areas of life, covering a range of needs: relax, reset the mind, physical fitness, social to do training with friends, self-accomplishment, and for Swimrun, also to connect with nature.
What is hardest part on the way to first place?
— To motivate myself in the hard moments when I don't want to train, say no to other things in life when needed, or when you have a bad day at a competition.
Did you have to sacrifice something to win the World Championship?
— Yes, but I would not call it sacrifice, it was a choice. This choice would be to spend time on training rather than dedicating it to family and friends and choose Swimrun trips over other possibilities. I think that is probably the hardest choice – sometimes I feel selfish when I train too much and say no to other fun events or opportunities to travel or experience new things with friends/family. Of course, it is sometimes possible to combine when training and traveling with friends, but not always.
What is the most important thing in your everyday life?
— I don't think I can say one thing… to always discover and learn new things would be a big one. Swimming plays a big role in my life and I don't think I would be the same without it. Also of course my loved ones – my husband, family and friends make up a very important part of my life.
What weaknesses does the World Champion have?
— I can be naïve, I struggle to say no to people, and I think I am a slower runner compared to the rest of the Swimrun field (but working on that always).
What is your favorite race?
— I cannot pick one, I like races with lots of Swimming and that gets me to travel somewhere I would have never gone otherwise. Although I have to say, that the race I just did (ÖTILLÖ Catalina) is up there – such an amazing course and place!
What is your typical training week in summer season? Out of season?

— In high season I do 3-4 swims, 3-4 runs and 2 strength/flexibility or yoga sessions, that is what I find reasonable to fit in with work and life. In off season I cut back on running, and do more yoga and maybe try some other fun training form.

What is most important in training?
— I think to find a routine and something that fits your everyday life, and that you enjoy it and that it gives you energy. To reach high, you also need to push yourself smartly – have a purpose with each workout. For me, I think the group that I train with is very important also. I need people that are slightly better or equal to train with, I always reach another level when pushing out a hard set in the pool or in the mountain hills together with a friend or teammate.
Tell about nutrition before and at the race
— I am a bit of a health nerd and like to eat natural and colourful food. I try to eat food that is not transported too far, and organic when available. I eat varied and don't change my diet much before a race. I eat oatmeal with peanut butter for breakfast usually, and take some Precision Hydration. During the race I take a few gels but also eat regular food at the aid station such as bananas.
What makes you work hard in preparation for the race?
— The thought of feeling invincible on race day and also training for my Swimrun partner.
How strong is the rivalry in female category?
— Not as intense as in men, but I think it is getting more competitive each year, which is exciting.
Tell us about your teammate Desiree Andersson. Did you always run in female pair? How do you communicate in a race? Do you use a rope? What equipment do you use at the race?
— I'm so happy that I get to race with Desiree. She is great, always positive and she has an amazing endurance strength and attitude that keeps her powering through any race like a queen. Before I met Desiree, I ran in Mix also – with my Swedish swimmer friend Pär Kristoffersson. I have raced with a few other partners as well, it is always fun and each time it is a different experience, challenge and team work. When Desiree and I race, we don't use the rope that much. Rarely in the water, just sometimes in the running when I get really tired. Desiree is improving her running a lot and I think soon I might not be able to keep up!
What are your sport goals?
— I usually have very specific goals, such as last year winning ÖTILLÖ. But This year I have more process goals, such as I want to improve my running and be able to enjoy it more, so I have joined a trail running group in Barcelona. I also want to help grow the sport and show Swimrun to other people, which I am working on with WILD Swimrun together with Maria Rohman*. In terms of races, I go in to each one with the expectation to win, and the ones planned for the first half of the season are ÖTILLÖ Catalina (already passed), Costa Brava Swimrun and a few open water races in the Marnaton Swimming cup in Catalonia where I live. This year I want to try some new races in new places, still planning out exactly which ones to do – but for sure a few more in the HEAD Swimrun Series here in Spain. Now with the world issue of the Corona Virus, we will see when we can start racing again!
*Read interview with Maria about her way in sport and WILDswimrun here
Tell us about WILD Swimrun. What does WILD Swimrun do? What is the idea and main mission?
— With WILD Swimrun, we have the mission to get more people into Swimrun – especially for more women to try the sport. We think that Sport, and Swimrun in particular because you add the element of enjoying nature to the fullest, have the power to make a person invincible. Both my partner Mia and I have felt that we have much in our lives to thank for our involvement in the Swimrun sport, and we want others to benefit from this too. I think Swimrun now is a quite even sport, but in general there are very few women doing endurance sports. We want to change this and are through our activities and events making it easier for women to get started. With the WILD Community, our WILD Club, and Team WILD, we are building a community where any woman, regardless of skill/ambition level, is welcome to join. We focus on enjoying the sport, the nature and the company – and to inspire each other on the course and off the course the reach our goals and ambitions.
What are your life goals?
— I usually set goals for each year, but I have a few things I want to accomplish in general in life. I think that under life's course, these will change and each thing has its time. I want continue on the entrepreneurial line in my professional career, do a PHD in media/marketing at one point, and have children and my own family one day. I also want to continue working within sports/health and inspire others to be active, as well as helping Swimrun become a famous sport in the world. I hope can be remembered as a happy and inspiring person!
What makes you Happy?
— My husband, Swimming, Swimrun, learning new things, my family, solving problems, creating experiences for other people, accomplishments, popcorn… and much much more! I always try my best to look at the bright side of things :)
All photos used in the article were provided by Fanny Kuhn from the personal archive.
Cover photo credit to Catarina Axelsson (instagram, facebook)