Throughout a marathon training session back in 2012 Björn Englund told Paul about SwimRun and ÖtillÖ. It did not take much to convince Paul. The two formed a team and ultimately became one of the most successful Duos of the sport. They won the World Championships back in 2013 and 2015. These days the speedy Canadian is a household name in SwimRun racing. 

Pretty unusual for a Canadian schoolboy Paul started playing ice hockey at an early age. He also swam competitively at national level. Furthermore he had a crack at all sorts of sport like football, basketball, skiing and mountain biking. He then found his big inspiration in triathlon, long distance running and ultimately SwimRun. 

Paul grew up in a small town in the middle of the rural Canadian Saskatoon province, moved to Vancouver and then onwards to Sweden in 2010. 

As Björn Englund left the sport after last year’s ÖtillÖ, Paul found a new race-partner in Sweden-based Frenchman Nicolas Remires. After an unsatisfactory competition in Utö the two won in Boras with a new course record. In the aftermath Paul found the time to respond to some of my enquiries about SwimRun.

runssel: You were successfully competing with Björn Englund for several years and raised the standard for SwimRun racing. Since Björn decided to step away from the sport after the 2015 season you were left without a partner. What was the motivation to go ahead with the sport and how did you link up with Nico Remires?

Paul Krochak: Björn and I definitely had a good run together. To be honest, after 2015 I wasn’t totally sure if I would continue with SwimRun and wasn’t actively searching a new partner. Nico contacted me sometime in November to see if I wanted to race with him. I knew Nico to be a really nice, humble guy with a lot of passion for the sport so I gave it a little thought. Add the fact that SwimRun is a tough sport to give up and after a couple sessions together Nico and I decided to team up.

Paul (left) and Björn celebrating their first ÖtillÖ win back in 2013. (Pic: Nadja Odenhage)

 runssel: Nico and yourself notched a 5th place finish at your first race, the Utö SwimRun. Not the outcome you would have expected I guess. As a crew, what did you guys learn from this competition and what did you fine-tune to come back with a course-record setting win in Boras?

Paul Krochak: Utö definitely did not go as planned. We both seemed to have off days physically but what was really bad was that we were completely out of synch with each other as teammates. At the same time, the teams who beat us were really strong that day. I gotta admit, we were feeling pretty humbled after Utö. So after the race we took a long look at all the mistakes we made and came up with a strategy for how we could work better as a team and what we each need to work on individually. Borås was a nice result because it told us we were moving in the right direction. But Utö also shows us that a lot of teams are hungry for the win in September. This really motivates me.

Grinding hard. Midway at the 2015 edition of ÖtillÖ. (Pic: Jakob Edholm)

 runssel: Frequently Endurance sports create very egotistic characters. Sometimes SwimRun squads struggle to display their physical capacity because team play is miscalculated. What brands a perfect SwimRun companion for yourself?

Paul Krochak: Hehe…You’re right about the ego thing. A lot of us of have long backgrounds in individual sports and have gotten pretty good at moving our own bodies quickly over long distances. But with SwimRun there are two people that need to move quickly and any two team-mates can be very different athletes – physically, mentally, psychologically etc. It’s so incredibly important, and often challenging, to understand how to get the team , i.e. both athletes, to perform optimally at the same time – physically and mentally. There’s no secret recipe to this, just a lot of understanding and appreciation for your partner.

runssel: Why are you a blameless SwimRun partner?

Paul Krochak: I don’t know, I just see this sport as something that should be fun – period. It’s completely uninteresting for me to do this sport just for winning; it’s more about enjoying the process, training and racing with great friends and pushing ourselves to the absolute limit. Sometimes things go well and other times less so. To start laying blame on others when things aren’t going well would take away from the fun factor.

Paul and Björn telling war stories at the ÖtillÖ 2015 finish line. (Pic: Jakob Edholm)

runssel: With ÖtillÖ in 2 months’ time, the season gets busy. In what way do you adjust your training en route for the World Championships? Do you have a specific training schedule laid out? What would be a key session for Nico and yourself?

Paul Krochak: We already train a lot during most of the year so the only real adjustments are to start focusing on longer sessions. There’s no specific training program laid out but the next 5-6 weeks will be pretty heavy. I’m a bit of a purist so like to keep my classic road/track running and indoor swim sessions as part of the rotation. But then there’s a lot of specific training, running in the forest/terrain, open water swimming and of course long SwimRun sessions. I’ll be in Canada (West Coast) for the month of July. We live right on the ocean and have mountains right from our backyard. It’s a bit of a SwimRun playground. I guess the key session is the long SwimRun session a few weeks out.

runssel: Will you chase one more marathon PB this fall?

Paul Krochak: My eyes are set on ÖtillÖ so it’s too soon to start talking about a fall marathon. But probably.

Done and dusted! (Pic: Jakob Edholm)

runssel: Personally, which sporting record do you rate the highest?

Paul Krochak: For me personally, the Sub 8hour ÖtillÖ is huge. Not sure if we’re quite there yet as SwimRun athletes but I do think it’s within reach. I’ve also been chasing the sub 2.30 marathon for over a decade now so that’s a big one. More generally, I think breaking the 2-hour marathon is one of the bigger records I see in professional sport. I think this will happen before too long.

runssel: What kind of music do you listen to at the moment?

Paul Krochak: No one ever asks me about this but it is a passion of mine. I’m big into Hip Hop, Breaks, Soul….etc. but for the last couple years I’ve really got into African music. There’s a great web show on Brighton Juice called Afro Bass. A couple of old school crate diggers host the show and find some really original stuff. I highly recommend it =)

Paul is sponsored by Head Swimming, Inov8, Suunto, Gococo and Lululemon Athletica. He runs with FK Studenterna (road and track) and swims with SK Neptun.