Here in Finland,home of ice swimming we are experiencing a hot,dry summer.Temperatures have been close to 30 Degrees C.It is at these times I look forward to a crisp cold Finnish Winter and the chance to get out and do some ice swimming.I met a Finnish man when I was staying at Iiris the visually impaired center in Helsinki a few months ago.He was to give me some valuable information when it comes to ice swimming.
Avanto or Ice Swimming in Finnish
Ice Swimming is becoming increasingly popular amongst Finnish People.Some people say that the people who pursue Winter Swimming in Finland are mad.Those people who do follow this practice think and feel otherwise!There are those people who participate for just for the thrill and experience and others for such causes as a charity or event.
To most of the world it is termed as Ice Swimming or Winter Swimming.The Finnish and Swedish followers of Winter Swimming aptly named it,”Avanto”which in Finnish translates to”hole in the ice”On first viewing people taking the dreaded plunge,all I could hear were loud shouts of Avanto!as bodies submerged in to the ice hole and the ice cold waters of the Baltic Sea.Many of those who dare try say that that upon on entering the water for the first few minutes it is a shock and and gives a feeling of unpleasantness.After the initial dip the body quickly acclimated to the surrounding water temperature followed by an intense feeling of warmth and well-being.A feeling of euphoria is claimed to flow throughout the body
Ice Swimming Tips for Safety
I was encouraged to take up Ice Swimming for health reasons due to suffering from Multiple Sclerosisand the damage the disease has had on my central nervous and immune systems.I was aIiris,the center for the visually impaired some 3 months ago and chanced on a meeting with an older man who has been practicing Winter Swimming for some 30 years.I asked if he really thought it of benefit to him and would he recommend me taking it up.Matti had no hesitation in quickly promoting the positive points he has gained from Ice Swimming 2-3 times a week during the winter months
Medical research has shown that exposure to intensive short term cold stimuli like cold showers or extremely cold water in effect hardens the body,so making it more resistant to diseases in particular acute respiratory diseases and depression.This equally applies to exposure to extreme heat as with the Finnish Sauna of which I have previously posted.As I was informed,”If I did not go Ice Swimming,I would be very depressed during the cold,dark Finnish Winters”I must say I saw first hand the sense of well being and alertness that Ice Swimming had upon this Finnish Gentleman.Then this practitioner of Winter Swimming went on to give me some practical tips for safety when Ice Swimming
Ice Swimming Tips for Safety
- Cool the body by exposure to the cold air for a few minutes before attempting to enter the water.The extreme difference in external stimuli can be dangerous for the heart.Some people,especially those new to Ice Swimming firmly believe that exiting a hot sauna,running and jumping in to the icy waters is the best way to get over the mental barriers.Wrong!Always acclimatize the body to the external temperatures first
- Ease yourself slowly in to the water,again for obvious reasons stated above.The shock to the body can be fatal
- Remember that there are currents in the water,so always attach yourself to a firmly secured rope or safety line.The danger here is that you can get swept by the prevailing currents under the ice and so not be able to surface for oxygen.This definitely does not give a person a sense of well-being
- Remember Water is a substance which is 800 times denser than air. As soon as light enters the water, it interacts with the water molecules and suspended particles to cause loss of light, colour changes, diffusion, loss of contrast and other effects.If becomming totally submerged the exit hole will appear to be in a different place than it really is,so not allowing you to surface and find your way out of the water
With an ever increasing population taking pharmaceutical drugs to alleviate symptoms of diseases and afflictions,maybe we as responsible people should be looking for an alternative preventative health care system.Ice Swimming or winter swimming in Finland looks to be one such step we can actively take in ensuring our own sense of well-being.
There will be further blog posts on Ice Swimming in Finland