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Ice Swimming in Finland

 As a Finn living in Finland, it would be so very wrong if I didn't promote our national sport in this blog: the ice swimming. Nah, I'm kidding, it's really not the kind of an activity every Finn does on weekly basis in wintertime, but it's quite popular anyway. The idea is simple: Wait until the lake or sea is frozen. Make a hole in the ice or arrange it so that a spot in the lake won't freeze. Go dip yourself into the hole. Take your time to stay couple of minutes dripping wet in the freezing air before going in a warm place (typically sauna) again. You will get an extraordinary feeling of enjoyment. 

Notice the underwater pumps that keep the water
moving and preventing it to freeze.
If you have sauna available, it's good to repeat the procedure couple of times. Depending on the size of the hole you can even swim a bit. All kinds of health benefits are promised, like decreasing of stress, and better resistance, but very little of it is scientifically proven. Nevertheless, your general feeling will certainly be different for the rest of the day. Some people get more energetic, others want to just wrap themselves in a shawl, and cuddle up in a sofa corner with a glass of wine and a good book.

Myself, I found the activity about five years ago and have ever since taken care that I'll go for a swim during at least couple of times a winter. Nowadays I also try to take every foreign visitor to ice swimming if they are up to it. An English friend of mine, a photographer in Leicestershire, didn't even need my encouragement, the decision to take the chilly dip had been made already before they even left UK. Respect.

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