Here at TIBCO, we’re all about teamwork. Of course, collaboration is key in the office, but we often like to extend beyond business hours, as well. One TIBCO employee, Anna Lundberg, knows all about teamwork on the job and otherwise, as she in her free time transitions from Technical Director of TIBCO Spotfire to a member of the two-woman swimrun team, Team ULAN.
TIBCO is proud to sponsor Team ULAN, a two-woman team from Sweden that competes on a global level in the sport. Ulrika Hotopp makes up the other half of the team that is currently preparing to compete in the 2019 ÖtillÖ World Swimrun Championship in a scenic baltic sea archipelago near Stockholm, Sweden.
But let’s back up here—what exactly is ‘swimrun’? We sat down with Lundberg to get all the deets on her sport of choice and Team ULAN’s upcoming championship appearance.
Q: Can you explain ‘swimrun’ to those who might not be familiar with the sport?
Swimrun is a multisport race where you change between swimming and running multiple times. You don’t have a transition zone like you have in triathlon, but instead you swim in your shoes and run in your wetsuit. Since it is quite difficult to swim in shoes, a floatation device is normally used to keep the legs at the surface, so you can save your leg energy for the technical and longer runs. Hand paddles are also often used to gain more speed. You can use a tow rope to help each other (if you are competing in a two-athlete class, as Team ULAN does) since you need to stay within 10 meters from your partner. All the equipment you start with must be carried along to the finish line.
There are usually three classes to compete in men’s, women’s, or mixed gender class. Some competitions allow for solo classes, but to my partner and I, one of the beauties of swimrun is the teamwork and being able to fight and experience hardship together. Team ULAN competes in the women’s class but my partner and I have competed solo, and in the mixed gender class with other swimrunners.
Q: Being tethered together sounds like it takes extra teamwork—what is Team ULAN’s collaboration strategy?
First of all you really need to trust each other. When swimming, the one in front is in charge of navigation and the follower’s role is to make it as easy as possible by keeping the pace up. That is when you gain as much speed as a team as possible. You also have to make sure not to get tangled in the tow rope. During the run, the athlete in back needs to focus on following steps and clearly vocalizing when the trail gets too technical or the pace is too fast.
Being very sensitive to the other’s emotions and well-being is also very important. Asking control questions to ensure the other person is okay and not letting your own ego take over. It is the sum of both team members’ strength and energy that counts.
We have developed our own signaling methods to communicate in the water if something needs to be adjusted, sometimes by shouting out loud. That kind of communication with someone you don’t feel comfortable with can easily be misconstrued. Some top teams have interrupted races because they began blaming each other. It is really all about good communication and chemistry between two people. Just as in a good marriage!
Q: What teamwork principles do you take from the office into your training?
Be very good at communication and listen to each other. Help each other and use each other’s strengths. Preparation and planning before the races is also an important aspect.
Q: What factors do you measure when you train/race? Do you run any analytics?
I normally look at time, distance, average speed, and heart rate during swimming and running to do a quick analysis. I use TIBCO Spotfire® to look at trends over time and analyze my training data to see how I can improve and how much time I have spent training both running and swimming.
Q: What does race-day preparation entail?
Sleep, food, yoga, and laughing together. It is really about collecting as much fresh energy as possible. We also remind ourselves that we do swimrun because of the fun adventure. We perform better when we don’t take ourselves too seriously even though we compete at a high level. Resting is extremely important, not only close to race-day but also in between training sessions.
Q: Where does the team name ULAN come from?
It is teamwork once again—it is a combination of the first letters in our first names—ULrika and ANna.
Whether it be Formula One racing, women’s cycling, or a two-person swimrun duo, TIBCO is proud to support teams of athletes around the world as they strive to reach their goals. For the inside scoop on Team ULAN, and wish them the best of luck at the World Championships, give them a follow on Instagram.