Valitse taso

Winter Swimming in the Lake Saimaa

9.4.2013
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My motto for these four months is to meet new different cultures, do and try new things and adapt to the Finnish culture.

This means, that winter swimming was something that I absolutely had to try. ‘You did what??? Are you crazy? Do you want to get sick? Be normal!!’ These were the reactions I got after I put a picture on Facebook about the winter swimming.

To be honest, it was my first reaction as well. Why would you voluntarily ‘swim’ in a frozen lake?

Friday 15th March, three weeks ago, Mirka took my friend from The Netherlands and me with her to the public sauna; Myllysaari.

This beautiful old sauna has a magnificent view of the lake. For my Dutch friend and me it was pretty hard in the beginning to stay in the sauna, it was so hot! The local Finnish women did not seem to have any problem with the heat and kept on throwing water on the hot stones. After few minutes our bodies seemed used to it, but still we could not take the sauna for more than 10 minutes.

So, after 10 minutes it was our moment - Dutch girls go winter swimming.

When we got out of the sauna and it was time to walk to the lake, the first steps outside were strange. I was expecting that it would be cold outside because even with my winter jacket on sometimes it is cold and now only wearing a bikini it was bloody hot .The best thing for me was the fact that I was so curious about how will it be in the water? Will it be cold? Will my body still be warm? Will I survive…?

My friend offered to go first, and she put her feet on the stairs in the water and later her whole body, swam one meter and got out of the water, she smiled, and said ‘THIS IS SO COOL’. Then it was my turn, I think my reaction was totally the same; the adrenalin in our bodies was so high that we decided to do it three more times. The only moment, when I felt cold was when I came out of the water but after five seconds you feel warm and very refreshed again. After three times winter swimming we felt so relaxed and decided to take a shower, dress up and have a drink. This is a must do when doing sauna we learned.

That night we had planned to go out but when we got home we decided to lay down and watch a movie instead. It was four hours later when we woke up, we were so tired that we had just fell asleep. We decided to stay at home and I haven’t slept so good in months.

I want to thank Mirka for taking us to the sauna and sharing this experience with us. The sauna is beautiful located with the view on the lake. We were there at the perfect time; Sunset. Watching the amazing pink sky and seeing the sun go down in the lake was something that makes this experience more special.

I’m addicted to the sunsets in Lappeenranta; my phone is full of sunset pictures. I wasn’t expecting that Finland would change me so much, at first nature wasn’t that much ‘my thing’, and now, I can’t get enough.
The finish nature is magical with the snow, the frozen lake, and the relaxing flow.

Now, summer is coming, the snow starts melting and it’s strange to see the streets without snow; ‘Omg - I can see the road!’ and feel the warm sun on my skin. I just can’t imagine how it will be, when all the snow has disappeared and the lake is unfrozen. The pictures in summertime are beautiful and I have had enough snow for this winter (and the next upcoming winters).

Lappeenranta, I forgive you for your coldness, you are amazing. But summer, you are so welcome in Lappeenranta!

Yvette Draijer