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Vansbrosimningen through history

Vansbrosimningen is the largest open water event in Europe. In the first event, ten people participated, today nearly 15 000 people participates in the eleven different races.


1950 sat Vansbro residents Einar Anselius and Mats Qvarfot by the river and wondered how they could make propaganda for swimming by swimming a longer distance. Mats suggested that they should start at the People’s Park and swim 1 kilometer. – No, damn it, said Einar, we are swimming under all six bridges! * And so it began. In the first swimming event attended ten people, nine of whom completed: Ragnhild Almlöf, Barbro Bergqvist, Margaret Dahlman, Gunhild Enander, Einar Anselius, Sven-Erik Ferneborg, Sven Granberg, Einar Hedin and Mats Qvarfot. *Today the race streches under seven bridges.


1956 Vansbrosimningen became a contest. For the first time swimmers from all over Sweden attended. Until 1955 was no winner named. First winners of Vansbrosimningen was Göran Åberg, Orebro SS, at time 42.34 and Elsa By, Falu SS 56.32.

1960 this year Lassar Stig Eriksson got his nickname “Grytan”, which mean pot, as he froze as much and crawled into a pot of hot water over the burning fire after finish. Lassar Stig Eriksson is also recorded for most swim overall in Vansbrosimningen – all in all 50 swims! The race attracted for the first time international swimmers with participants from Norway, Denmark and Finland.

1964 for the first, and only time, a woman became the overall winner. Margareta Rylander won twelve seconds ahead of the fastest male participant with the excellent time 40.28 minutes.

1968 was the winner named Erkki Hänninen from Finland, and became the first foreign winner.

1971 was Vansbrosimningen introduced in A Swedish Classic. The Classic Events also include Vasaloppet (cross country skiing), Engelbrektsloppet (cross country skiing), Lidingöloppet (running) and Vätternrundan (road cycling).

1975 was the year for an unmatched record as a swimmer took a long swim and was timed for 2:48:13 hrs.

1970, 80’s and 90’s saw an increasing development in number of participants:

400 in 1972
1120 in 1982
2672 in 1992
Over 4000 in 2002
7000 in 2006
Today, over 14 000 in 2014


1982 swimmers began to use wetsuits. After 30 years as chairman founder Mats Qvarfot resigned, but continued in the organization as chief for Vansbrosimningens prize collection.

1992 was the premiere for Vansbro Tjejsim (Ladie’s), exclusively for women with a distance of 1k in river Västerdalälven. The number of participants has increased significantly from the premiere with 150 registered, to nowadays approximately 3000 participants.

1998 was kids’ race Lilla Vansbrosimningen introduced. 25/50 m is swum in heated swimming pool close to the finish area.

2000 was another race introduced as of the Millennium Swim, which later was renamed to Vansbro Kortsim 1k (Short Swim).

2007 saw the premiere of Half Swim, now Vansbro Halvsim (Half Swim). This year the organization agreed to call the races Vansbro Halvsim, Vansbro Kortim, Vansbro Tjejsim.


2010 was the Vansbrosimningen Arena developed into a competition center with restaurant tent, Race Office and expo area. During this year an extensive landscaping was made to improve transport and drainage. Nearly 12 000 swimmers took part this year and 30 000 visitors were estimated to be in place.

2013 For the first time a bike race was carried out, Vansbro Bianchi 120. The premiere attracted nearly 300 participants.

2014 founder and long served enthusiast, Mats Qvarfot passes away at the age of 87.

2014 Vansbrosimningen was noted for new registration record with 15 976 participants June 28-July 6, of which 14,950 participated in the swim events. Vansbro Triathlon became a part of Vansbrosimningen race programme. Due to extraordinary low air and water temperatures, organizers were forced to make the decision of reducing the distance for Vansbrosimningen and Vansbro Öppen Älv, from 3k to 1.5k. 590 participants took part in the first edition of Öppen Älv. The race is an alternative to the main event Vansbrosimningen.


Klassikerboken by Per Eric Nordquist.
Några anteckningar om Vansbrosimningen by Mats Qvarfot.
Documents of Vansbrosimningen.