A refreshing dip in icy water?
Believe it or not, swimming in a hole in the ice really does you the world of good.
‘Eek!’ ‘No way!’ ‘You Finns are nuts!’ These tend to be the first unenthusiastic reactions of tourists faced with the prospect of a dip in an icy lake. Slipping into black, frozen water does bring to mind the fate of the Titanic rather than the exciting prospect of a pleasant swim. Why on earth would anyone take the plunge if they didn’t have to? Well, maybe because it’s not an extreme sport for masochists, but an experience that leaves you feeling fantastic and refreshed.
Ice swimming is in fashion
Ice swimming is currently enjoying something of a renaissance in Finland, even among the young. It has traditionally been something that older people enjoyed, but recent generations have made swimming in icy water rather more fashionable. It’s no longer all about toughening you up, a ritual or being macho, but simply an incomparable energy boost.
Today, Finland has several new, stylish places where ice swimming is offered alongside other spa and bathing options, purely for the enjoyment of the experience. The fear threshold has been lowered and the entertainment level increased, partly thanks to the installation of underwater lights offering some illuminated reassurance to swimmers.
Cold water warms you up
Quite simply, the secret of plunging into icy water lies in the feeling that surges through your body once you get out of the water. Even though lowering yourself into the water requires a certain amount of courage, the initial shock and momentary loss of feeling in your legs soon pass. As soon as you’re back on dry land your circulation kicks in and your body starts to warm up.
The change is amazing and the resulting energy boost can stay with you for the rest of the day. In fact, many people in Lapland start their mornings this way, setting them up for the working day ahead.
A new passion?
The next time a seemingly crazy Finn suggests jumping into a frozen lake, it might be worth giving it a second thought before ruling it out entirely. Give in, and you might find, against all your expectations, that you’ve found a new energising passion in life.
In the rush and crush of modern life, the rarities are what we value most, such as space, quiet and time. The space to breathe, a time to dream… you can find these treasures in Finland, where the lakes are many and the people are few.