From Sweden, with Love
AROUND these parts, Jeno is well-known
as an athlete and coach.
Over the past 13 years, she’s
trained hundreds of swimmers,
runners, cyclists and triathletes, mostly
through Without Limits, a local coaching
and events program. She founded Swim the
Loop, the first open water endurance race in
the Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach area.
She holds more certifications and awards in
the racing world than can be appropriately
listed within a space-limited magazine
Six years ago, she poked her head out of
the world she swims in to see what else was
out there. She found SwimRun, a compe-tition
that combines a few of her favorite
things: swimming, running, teamwork and,
most importantly, adventure. Figuring the
best way to learn more was to actually experi-ence
it, she and fellow athlete Jenny Ledford
booked a flight to Sweden, home of the
ÖTILLÖ SwimRun World Championship.
They were one of only six U.S. teams at the
race and when it was over, Jeno remembers
thinking, “This is the best sport in the whole
wide world so we’ve got to bring this to the
Shortly after the trip to Sweden, Jeno
began scouting locations to curate an event
closer to home and stumbled upon Lake
James, a hidden gem about 35 miles west of
It took two years to get approval and
permits and develop the course, but found-ing
SwimRun Lake James — one of the first
of its kind in the U.S. — was worth it. This
is Jeno’s fourth year as co-director with her
partner, Tony Hammett, although it was
canceled due to COVID-19 last year.
Lars Finanger, who competed on one of
the six U.S. teams at the world championship
in Sweden in 2015, beat Jeno to the punch
with a SwimRun event in Maine that was the
first in the U.S.
Today, Jeno, Finanger and Herbert Krabel (director of SwimRun NC, which takes place in Hanging Rock
State Park) are widely considered the ringleaders for SwimRun being adopted by American athletes. Now there
are a handful of races in the U.S. from San Juan Island in Washington to Michigan, Maine, the two in North
Carolina, and one in Texas. Like buds awaiting the warmth of spring, SwimRuns seem bound to blossom,
coloring the map on down the road.
Race director Kristen Jeno
welcomes a team to the
finish line at SwimRun
Lake James in 2019.
PHOTO BY BRETT COTTRELL, WORKSHOP MEDIA