In Full Flight with Jesper Svensson

Jesper Svensson is ready for the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona and we had a few words with the fast Swede about his preparation, gear. Swensson has a couple IRONMAN titles, a Challenge Vansbro win, the 2021 ITU Long Distance World Championship title, and the 2017 ÖtillÖ World Championships on his resume among many other podiums.

Slowtwitch: Thank you for your time Jesper.

Jesper Svensson: Thanks for having me!

ST: When did you arrive in Hawaii?

Jesper: I went straight after PTO US Open to Kona and thus I will have been here almost 3 weeks by the time of the race.

ST: Do you feel you have adjusted to the temperatures and the surroundings?

Jesper: My heat preparation has been going well. Had one session where I was pushing a bit extra to get the overheating over the edge. And after that my heart rate and sweat temperature adapted fast to the temperature here.

ST: What is up for you those last few days before the big race?

Jesper: I have done a big block after US Open, with volume on the bike and the mileage in on the run. This weeks is to freshen up the body and do the last hard session on Wednesday 3 days before the race. Then I usually do a 2h bike ride over and under race pace, brick run around 7-8km around race pace.

ST: Your last start in Kona was in 2019 and you finished in 37th place. Likely a result you were unhappy with but maybe you best talk about that day.

Jesper: Yes, my last time here was not the result I had training for. I had a camp in Boulder before and a big block off training here on the island. So maybe I lost some off the race experience and the last % of the performance when I didn't race something for a couple of months. My race here was a hard swim, and I lost the first pack into town. And was in the third group heading into the transition. I did over pace myself on the bike, and run was a struggle from the beginning.

ST: How has your preparation been in general for this race and how good to do feel both mentally and physically?

Jesper: This time I have raced a lot this year. This is my 5th start off an IRONMAN this year and thus I have some experience from races. I feel strong training and showed to myself on the swim training race yesterday that I have the swim in place.

ST: Well, how fast did you swim in the Ho’ala swim?

Jesper: I swam at 48.22 missed a turnaround buoy where I needed to go back and take that one. On race day with all the sighting buoy I think the front pack will swim around 47 minutes.

ST: What do you think is possible in Kona this year for you?

Jesper: With right pacing strategy and a race that goes my way. I think I can hit a top 10 placement.

ST: Talk about your race bike. How is it all set up?

Jesper: I have a Ventum One disc-brake bike with Shimano Dura-Ace 12speed. Wheels Dura-Ace C60 with GP 5000 TT TDF edition tubeless. And a custom made aero cockpit from Revolver wheels. I can bring up to 2.5L liquid on the bike. A fast setup and the weight with no liquid is around 10kg

ST: I think you are one of very few pros racing with that unique POC space helmets. How has it tested for you and what was it compared to?

Jesper: I’m from a swimming background so I have the typical swimmer shoulders. With the Poc helmet the wind goes around my shoulders and that makes me earn some watts compare to other TT helmets. I tried some different helmets when I was in the velodrome this spring so I know this one is the right choice for me. For my safety the orange paint is also very visible.

ST: Which running shoes will you be using in the race and what is your go to trainer?

Jesper: I’m using the new On carbon shoes cloud boom echo 3.0. On slow runs I’m using the Cloudflow.

ST: What about swimming. Which googles and swimskin will you use?

Jesper: Since my sponsor Ark is up to developing a swimskin now, releases next year, I’m just using an old Sailfish swimskin I had. For googles I’m using the Magic5.

ST: Let us look back at 2022 until this point. What would you consider your season highlight to date?

Jesper: My best performance so far this year is my win in Challenge Vansbro. That was the best race in power output feeling and speed. Before that I have ITU World Long-distance Championships in Almere 2021 as one of my highlights of my career. A 7h39min on the IRONMAN distance and a 2nd place.

ST: And you were 3rd in Texas.

Jesper: Yes, that is where I qualified to Kona. I didn't have my best performance, but my pacing was on top that day. With a 2:51 marathon in the heat.

ST: Prior to that you won both IRONMAN Brazil and Barcelona in 2018.

Jesper: Yes 2018 was a good year. I was pacing it wisely both in Brazil and Barcelona. Had a two puncture both in Hamburg and Copenhagen so I had a DNF those races. But I won Swedish championship in Half Distance and earned a 4th place at the IM South American championship.

ST: We would like to know about your training. How big is your volume at peak and how is it spread out in time over the 3 disciplines?

Jesper: The biggest amount of volume is around 30-35h with around 20h on the bike, 100km on the run and 25km on the swim. A regular week far away from racing is more like 10h on the bike, 5h run, 5h swim and 2h strength.

ST: What is the hardest swim set you do in practice and how is it broken down?

Jesper: I used to swim high intensity over longer distances. One regular swim session I have is a main set 5x400m 1st Z3, 2nd easy, 3rd all out, 4th easy, 5th Z3. Best times in long course is around 4min 27sec on the all out. Closer to race it can be 4km race pace or similar.

ST: Is there anything else we should know?

Jesper: Challenge Roth 2019, the coolest atmosphere around a small city in the triathlon world. With a 2nd place in a strong field I liked that race.
Beside my work as a professional triathlete, I like to coach athletes.
This year I coached Max Andersson to his win with Hugo at the ÖtillÖ World Championships. For me, ÖtillÖ 2017 was my 4th attempt on the SwimRun race. I raced with Daniel Hansson and we were the winning team. I am a strong swimmer and Daniel was the strong trail runner. I think that is the perfect combo for a good race at ÖtillÖ.

Thanks for the chat.