Eva Nyström won the mixed division ÖtillÖ World Championships in Sweden in course record time barely 4 months after giving birth. This mother of two also has won the Duathlon World Championships twice, races as a pro triathlete and competes in road TT events. At the ÖtillÖ World championships she was partnered with the speedy Aussie Adriel Young, but Eva also has raced on other mixed and female teams.
Slowtwitch: How are you Eva?
Eva Nyström: I am fine thank you. Just came up from our basement that we are renovating. Martin is still downstairs and painting. The kids are asleep upstairs.
ST: What are you currently getting ready for other than the basement renovation?
Eva: ÖtillÖ. To get in shape I try to race as much as I can. So the next race for me will be next weekend in 10 Island race Swimrun. It is a Swimrun close to where we live, and I will go solo. The goal is to beat the time from last year. Plus I have three other shorter Swimrun events before ÖtillÖ.
ST: How common are solo Swimrun events in Sweden?
Eva: We have a couple of solo Swimruns in Sweden. I wish we had more, because I like to race by myself also. It is a nice to change between racing as a team of 2 and alone.
ST: You have been very busy with racing triathlons and Swimrun events. How do you currently split your time with these two sports?
Eva: I started the season with Swimrun races in Croatia, Morocco and Stockholm. But the whole time was my main goal for the first part of the summer the Swedish National TT championship in TT, the middle distance triathlon and sprint distance triathlon. So I tried to train for triathlon but raced Swimrun just for very good training. And I was faster than ever on the swim in the triathlon races I did. I was third both in the Swedish Middle and Sprint Triathlon Championships. And I was very happy with that. I was racing much faster then I ever expected. After that I have just been on the bike 4-5 times. Now I focus on Swimrun only.
ST: What about duathlon?
Eva: I will not do any duathlon this year. I was thinking to race the Swedish [Duathlon] Championships but then I got sick.
ST: You won the ITU Duathlon Long Course World Championships twice already. Does one of those titles mean more than the other and if so, why?
Eva: No, I was very happy when I won the World Championships the first time. But it was great to defend my title too!
ST: Duathlon especially in North America seems to be struggling as a sport. Do you see that in Sweden or other European countries too?
Eva: I am not sure, because I haven’t been racing duathlon for a couple of years now. But I think it is the same size in Sweden. I think its strange that triathlon age groupers are not attempting more duathlons. After all you don’t have to swim. And the swim is the part that most racers are afraid of.
ST: What are you afraid of?
Eva: When I am racing I am not afraid of anything specific. I am much tougher when I am racing compared to training. But I have to train running on technical terrain and on rocks etc. Afraid is maybe the wrong world. When I am not racing I am afraid of a lot of non-racing things.
ST: What would you consider your best triathlon performance so far?
Eva: My best? That is a very difficult question. Maybe my fastest IRONMAN. Before that race I said that I was going for the Swedish record, and so I did! That was a great feeling!
ST: So which race and year was that?
Eva: It was Järnmannen in Kalmar 2009. Nowadays it is IRONMAN Sweden.
ST: This year Lisa Norden and Asa Lundstrom were first and second at the Swedish cycling TT National Championships, but you also managed to finish high. Have you had any regrets about pushing this sport not much more?
Eva: I have three medals from the Swedish cycling TT national championships. My last medal is from 2014, a silver. I have actually 2 silver and 1 bronze. I have never tried to become a cyclist, I just love the TT. And is really funny if you also can go really fast!
Eva: Yes its funny when you are in shape and ride your bike really, really fast. It is funny!
ST: Last year just 4 months after the birth of your child you grabbed the ÖtillÖWorld Championships in Sweden in course record time with your Aussie teammate Adriel Young. What does that win mean to you?
Eva: I was really surprised over our victory and the time. Before the race I didn’t have any concern about the course record. And it was all over all my dreams. People have told me that if you have trained hard many years you can do well with much less training. I have never believed in that before. But now I do. I am a living proof of that after last year’s ÖTILLÖ victory. I gave birth less than 4 months before the race and I also was pregnant 9 months before that. And a baby is a baby. It eats in the middle of the night, screams, poops and so on - all day and night. (laughs)
ST: Is Martin a good helper with diapers etc?
Eva: I breastfed Julia fulltime until she was around 6-7 months old, and up to that point I took mostly care of her. Except when I was out training without her. Now that she is bigger it is easier to share. We also have our big boy Simon to take care of. When Julia was smaller Martin took care of him more. Now he helps us with Julia!
ST: The race is very long. How did you handle feeding the baby?
Eva: My friend Tina followed me and Julia before ÖtillÖ. I breastfed her just before the start and during the race Tina gave Julia infant formula, but it was not that popular. But ok.
ST: I believe you were not even sure if you could race shortly before the race. What exactly was going on?
Eva: I thought I was in too bad shape and that I had not trained enough. And I was not sure I could handle the distance at all. I emailed the organization of ÖtillÖ and asked if we could change our race entry to this year. I didn’t tell Adriel about that email. After that I decided to do everything I could. And just focus race and not think about anything else.
ST: How did you and Adriel join forces, or maybe better said who set that in motion?
Eva: Adriel first asked Martin. But Martin couldn’t because he was going to China for the World Championships in adventure racing. He told Adriel to ask me instead. I think I was in month 4-5 in my pregnancy. I don’t even know what made me say yes. But I did, and I still do not understand how Adriel thought I would get in shape so soon after having a baby. But he trusted me and I trusted him. We didn’t know each other before the race.
ST: During the race did you have an idea where your competition was?
Eva: No, we thought they were closer than it actually was. We never had any good times' back. It was when we had 2 km to go that we finally got the information that we were going to win and break the course record.
ST: Did you have any low points?
Eva: Yes, after the last aid station. We thought we had 16 km left and that the second team was just 3 min behind. But it was completely wrong. It was not that long left and we were in the lead with a 16-minute advantage. But that is where I had my absolutely lowest point in the race.
ST: You have done a few other Swimrun events prior to the World Championships. When did you realize this sport was for you?
Eva: I still do not know if it is a sport for me. I run much faster on the asphalt than on stones and slippery rocks. But it is also a big challenge for me. I think that is why I like Swimrun. I like to learn new things.
ST: You have also raced with various teammates. What advice would you give folks new to the sport in terms of selecting a partner?
Eva: Race with someone that have the same goals as you, and whom you trust. I think it is important that you are on the same level. And can help each other on the race.
ST: I think you are in a very different position this year tackling the ÖtillÖ World Championships this year. How much faster do you think you and Adriel can go this time?
Eva: It depends on a lot of things. If the weather, wind and water would be like last year maybe 15-30 minutes, but it very difficult to say. I only know that we can go much faster than last year. We did the fastest race you ever could expect from our bodies last year. But this year we are much stronger. So in the theory we should be able to go much faster, but you never know. It is a long day and there are two bodies who need to go really good. And the weather and the winds need to be right. Because you race from point A to B, and from North to South.
ST: Talk about your Swimrun gear.
Eva: For this year I have for the very first time a real Swimrun suit, from Orca. It is an RS1 and I love it. The years before I had a home made Swimrun suit. That worked well, but my new one is still much better.
I use a pull buoy and you should never go without that. For this year I also race with bigger paddles on my hands, and they are made from carbon and thus very light. I am still looking and trying a lot of different shoes to find the shoe with the best grip that will fit my feet!
ST: What is your favorite Swimrun race and why?
Eva: My favorite so far must have been ÖtillÖ. I just have great memories from last year. Before I raced there I was scared of the race.
ST: Your husband Martin Flinta is also racing, but he is competing with Oscar Olsson in the male division. How do you think they will do?
Eva: They want to win. And training for that so I think they have very big chances to win. Both Martin and Oscar has been racing a lot and they are in really good shape and know how to perform in races. I should bet a lot of money on them.
ST: What about the kids?
Eva: They are fine. Simon my big boy who is six years old just started school. And Julia, our baby who is 15 months will start Kindergarten next week.
ST: Anything else we should know?
Eva: My parents are coming from Arvidsjaur were they live. It is 1200 km by car one way from were we live in Mölndal to take care of Simon and Julia while Martin and I are racing ÖtillÖ. That is what I call love! Martin’s parents who live close to us and usually help us a lot are away that time.