Extreme Ice Swimming


You may have read in one of my previous posts that I went on an ice diving adventure in Finland recently.  Although it was the experience of a life time, I stuck to a single ice dive only, thinking the experience would be diminished by repeating it.  However, I did take up the opportunity to indulge in another extreme sport: ice swimming.  Swimming in ice water is incredibly popular in Finland, so it didn’t take me long to find a place where I could do it.

My Equipment

I came well prepared with stuff that I had already purchased of Amazon for my ice diving experience.  I showed up with my standard list of keep warm stuff – I am more of a tropical person – including:

I was well prepared!  Of course, when I arrived, the local Fins, clad in nothing but some Speedos and a swimming cap, laughed at me!  Apparently, the idea behind swimming in ice water is that you experience the cold, it is said to be very good for your body and it even seems to keep colds and flu at bay.  Luckily, I did also bring a bathing costume (no swimming cap though, should’ve thought of that one…), so I was still good to go.

The Ice Swimming Experience

There are two main things I remember about the experience itself:

  • Running – a lot
  • Feeling fresh for the rest of the day

I had some other extreme sports buddies with me who didn’t care to join, but did shoot some amazing videos, and I have since looked at what I actually did.  Road Runner would’ve been proud of me!  A group of us loaded into the lovely warm sauna, slammed the door open, ran to the hole, dove in, got back out and ran back to the sauna.  I’ve never seen funnier footage of myself in my life!

Ice Swimming Benefits

Ice swimming, in all seriousness though, is really supposed to have many benefits, and current medical studies are taking place to determine how much of an impact these benefits actually have.  The Fins are determined that ice swimming can cure depression, possibly because you feel so fresh and invigorated afterwards (I remember that feeling, it was amazing).  However, more interestingly, swimming in ice water is also supposed to help keep symptoms of very serious illnesses at bay, including:

  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Low blood pressure
  • Pulmonary tuberculosis
  • Radiculitis
  • Dermatitis

It is a fact that cold treatment is now a recognised treatment, generally in combination with hydrotherapy – therapy using water.  Could it be that things people in America pay loads of money for, making it sound like a fad, is actually available for free in Finland?  It seems so.

So there you have it, my latest extreme sports experience.  In all honesty, I don’t remember much besides the running, but that was more fear than anything else.  Many a Fin has said that the first experience is the worse, and they were right. Apparently, some people even don’t need to use the sauna before and after anymore.  Rather them than me, I say!