When you’ve done enough triathlons (and the ensuing training), you end up with an opportunity to swim somewhere with friends, your tri team or a homestay that you’ve never thought possible... a swim that stays in your mind forever.
Perhaps you’re in Taupo for Ironman New Zealand, and get roped into a point-to-point downriver swim in the Waikato River, in water so clean you can drink, with warm bubbling springs feeding into the crisp, cool flow in that, well, you may as well stop and have a soak for a moment mid-swim.
Maybe it’s Kona, with a pod of dolphins spinning, playing and clicking underneath as you swim overhead, and a giant sea turtle passes lazily.
Or maybe it's race day at the Escape from Alcatraz, swimming from "The Rock" to shore enjoying the scenery of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Transamerica Tower... but maybe a little worried about sharks.
Yeah, not your normal lane pool swim.
We chatted with our resident Nordic powerhouse pro, Allan Hovda. A three-time Norseman Xtreme Triathlon winner, he’s done what’s regarded as one of the most epic triathlons in the world, with the swim starting as athletes jump off a ferry into the Hardangerfjord in Eidfjord, Norway.
Yeah, that’s epic. But Hovda said he has four that come to mind, and regales us…. And causing us to ask ourselves… can we out-epic Allan? Check out his top four epic swims, and see. But looking at some of his swims… you may want to bundle up!
Patagoniaman Xtreme Triathlon
“After the race, I won a stay at Puyuhuapi Lodge which is a totally remote place with warm springs coming up from the ground,” he says. “Swimming in the cold water in the fjords there (maybe 13-14 degrees C/55 degrees F) and getting directly into a hot spring afterward was pretty magical.”
“I visited Galapagos in 2017 and we were snorkeling every day. As I was the only fast swimmer in the group, I could cover more distance and get away from the others, since a lot of splashes and noise are scaring away some of the animals,” he says. “During one of the swims, a Galapagos sea lion came up and was really curious. I wasn't sure how to communicate with a sea lion but tried doing loops and blowing bubbles. It responded to both by doing the same. It was a moment I will never forget—and luckily caught with the GoPro on my head.”
Winter Swimming in Oslo
“Swimming in Oslo in January with -12 degrees C in the air (10.4 degrees F) and snow, while it was about 3-4 degrees C (37-39 degrees F) in the water."
Mountain Scenics in Lofoten
All you have to do is Google Lofoten Norway to see that this island chain and the midnight sun is a living scenic painting. Hovda's homeland has some of the most beautiful coastlines, and this is a special one.
"Swimming in the fishing villages of Lofoten among the steep mountains was amazing," he said. "The water is very salty, crystal clear and crispy with temperatures around 1-10 degrees C (50 degrees F)"
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