Today is national “Polar Bear Plunge Day”. This translates less excitingly as “ice swimming”, and since I live in Finland and have never partaken in the said activity, it seemed like a cool way to start the year with a splash.*
I had been in touch with my parents’ town’s local ice swimming organisation, Lahden Avantouimarit, and we could go free of charge since we were first-time ‘visitors’.
(Membership fee for the year is 35€, which doesn’t break the bank either. I was happy my parents are considering membership so I didn’t feel like a complete free-riding impostor.)
Finns are renowned for not being especially talkative, but today’s happiest realisation was that in ice swimming changing rooms, it’s a whole different world in terms of Finnish social communication norms. The women were keen to share their advice and knowledge on first-time ice swimming experiences. You shouldn’t really dive coz “your brains may freeze”, a reassuring utterance for me to keep my hat on.
All five of us took turns to go in and we all survived admirably, except perhaps my mumsie who went with two socks and came out with one.
And how was it? Honestly, not much worse than going swimming at my friend’s summer cabin in October. The water was freezing, yes, but so was the air around it. I ran in, screamed, and then started just floating and kicking around in the water maybe half-heartedly hoping to “get used to it”.
“You shouldn’t go that far if it’s your first time!” the official woman was immediately shouting at me from the terrace area.
So I swam back.
Maybe twenty seconds and it was over.
Could’ve done it for longer.
After that we had coffee and Swiss roll served by the ice swimming organisation.
“It’s not like this every time you go swimming,” said the friendliest woman from the changing rooms, now sitting on a snowy bench eating her berry pie.
Thank you Lahden Avantouimarit. 🙂
*Thanks go to my dad for the providing of the second witty pun.