Ice swimming, already done this? A few weeks ago I only could say “I don’t unfortunately”. But on a Sunday – about several weeks ago – we got the opportunity to experience. A bus filled by exchange students drove to Ruissalo where we found a traditional Finnish wooden house. The moment we walked in you could smell the fresh wood being burned in the stove, along with the typical “loggers house smell”. A lot of memories about a small vacation house we were in with the whole family came up in my mind. A little bit a nostalgic feeling.
Arriving at the house, we only needed to pay and write our name so afterwards we could get our personalized diploma. Trusting people is a very natural thing in Finland, because if we would we could go immediately into the ice hole without paying.
Afterwards we went to get changed into a common dressing room (men and women separately of course). The Scandinavian behavior was visible (i.e. completely undress without any embarrassment, even there were strangers). Several years ago I had a little “trauma” visiting a public sauna in Denmark, but we grow up…
Anyway, I still must tell you about the ice hole-adventure. Subsequently we walked towards the ice hole (on a heated floor, nice!). First of all we took a “dive” into the water, although it wasn’t a real dive but rather a dip like you sometimes do with a cookie in your hot chocolate. Damn, I didn’t think it was going to be that cold, really freezing actually. I’ve never felt such cold water. Diving and getting out, it didn’t take long and I tried to move to the sauna, but without the fast part. Once I was there, I needed to warm up for several minutes before I could enjoy the heat of the sauna. Then I went back to the ice and again to the sauna. Repeating this about five times: sauna – water – sauna – water – … I even swum to the buoy and back, but that was really a crazy idea. Afterwards I didn’t had any feeling in my fingers and feet and my whole body was aching. So I stayed outside for a few minutes before I got back to the sauna. Standing outside in bikini after a dive is feeling warmer than just walking outside with your clothes on.
After an experience I have never had before, I am the proud owner of another diploma. I only needed to warm up myself very well because the cold was staying in my body long time afterwards. But this doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a nice experience, it really was a unique experience I’ll never forget!
Text and photos: Elke Hermans