With all the bad weather we’ve had recently you do hear people complain that they have never been this cold. It reminds me of a time where I experienced the coldest conditions. No it wasn’t minus 40 in Canada. I do know what that feels like but I was wrapped up in the right gear so although it did feel cold, it was not like the cold I felt in Finland.
Ice swimming was an experience because it was an amazing and scary feeling all at the same time.
I was working in Finland meeting some suppliers and searching for new ideas for clients. I visited a charming couple who had their own traditional smoke sauna. This is how the Finns used to have saunas before electricity was available and I would definitely recommend it if you get the chance.
The sauna is heated by smoke which provides a more subtle heat than the modern options. It was like stepping back in time – a vintage sauna experience. The owners, who were 80 if they were a day suggested that I do what they do every day after their smoke sauna. Have a dip in the lake beside the sauna.
I will try anything once but I must admit, I did let out a little gasp as I realised exactly how cold the water would be. In these situations, it’s hard to back out without appearing bad mannered. If these two older people could swim in the water every day, then surely I should be able to do it once!
Before I could think about it anymore, the words “I would be delighted” came out of my mouth. Within minutes the husband was breaking the ice on the lake to create a space where I could swim, while his wife was ushering me into the smoke sauna – like a lamb to the slaughter!
As I sat in the sauna, I kept wondering how long I would need to stay in the warm and slightly smokey atmosphere to counteract the cold of the water in the lake. Too long was my calculation! I stayed in the sauna for what I felt was a reasonable length of time, before walking towards the icy lake.
The frozen water looked beautiful as I climbed down the steps. However, I could feel my body having difficulty in accepting that this temperature was ideal. I didn’t realise that my teeth could chatter so quickly whilst hyperventilating and laughing at the same time. You learn something new every day!
I felt as if I had been in the water for an eternity but in reality, it was just a few minutes. When I climbed out and the lady wrapped a towel around me, I couldn’t believe how good I felt.
It was an exhilarating feeling and I just felt – well wow – what’s the rest of the day going to bring! My skin felt really good and I just felt I could take on anything.
New experiences are priceless
I left the old couple as they prepared for their daily sauna and dip in the ice pool. I was so pleased I tried ice swimming because if I hadn’t, I would have always wondered what it was like. Those opportunities just don’t come along that often. I love to experience new things, cultures and traditions. Ice swimming taught me that although the water was cold the feeling was invigorating.