When I travel, I try to find out what local people like to do and do that. I also try to maintain some of my own routines. So when I found out about “winter swimming” when I was coming through Estonia, I knew I needed to give it a shot.
Estonia’s tourism site describes it like this:
Basically, it’s cold shower therapy 2.0
You cut a hole in the ice, then you jump in. Then, spend some times splashing around and enjoying your “swim.” Simple, cold and pretty badass.
Thanks to Gustav, we found a spot to do it, but we went early in the morning and the saunas weren’t warmed up quite yet.
After wondering how the hell I wouldn’t get hypothermia, we realized that while the saunas were off, they DID have the hot tubs.
Sauna culture runs deep here.
We were short on time, so I paid my 3 euro for my towel and locker, changed, and got ready to go.
The first dip was mind-numbingly cold, so I didn’t do much more than jump in and climb out and into the hot tub.
Exhilarating, but I wasn’t done.
I wanted another go, so I popped back out and jumped back in – this time to float around and relax as much as I could.
I laid back, closed my eyes and tried not to float under the ice (my secret fear that’s completely not based in reality.
After about 45 seconds, I couldn’t feel my legs anymore. I swam back towards the ladder and tried to climb out with my numb legs.
Once I got back in the sauna, I started laughing uncontrollably because I couldn’t actually feel the hot water. My skin was so number it couldn’t tell the temperature difference anymore.
We were short on time, so I couldn’t spend as much time as I would have liked hopping between the hot and the ice, but it’s one of the most physically relaxing activities I’ve ever done.
Each time you warm up, the cold gets easier to take, so I’d like to work my way up to more and more time submerged in the ice.
Here’s some shots of how it went down…
Oh, and I just found out that Estonia is going to organize the World Championships in winter swimming in 2018.
Guess I know what I need to start training for next.
If you want more on winter swimming:
- Winter swimming – the Estonian vitamin
- Winter Swimming in Estonia Video
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