What do you do after a long day exploring Helsinki? I should try one of the national pastimes of Finland…ICE SWIMMING! That sounds totally relaxing and definitely rejuvenating, right? When you pair it with a trip to the sauna it doesn’t sound all that bad.
What is ice swimming?
Well, it’s for those who are bonkers. Sorry, Fins and other friends from the north, but this is just crazy. “Let’s go cut a hole on a frozen lake and take a dip.” Who thought of this? And what were their motives? My first thought is instant regret, then hypothermia.
Ice swimming is usually paired with a trip to the sauna. Ice swimming has a ton of benefits; it helps your immune system, gives you an endorphin high, increases circulation, and helps you relax.
Do as the Fins Do
I am a fan of doing things others might not try, I definitely think ice swimming is on that list. I also enjoy immersing myself in different cultures and of course trying new things.
The Allas Sea Pool is where I am going to take the plunge. It is located next to the port of Helsinki, the water in the ice pool is connected to the sea. Also, since it is located along the port you are right next to Market Square which is a main traffic area for walkers, bicyclists, and cars. From Market Square you can watch people in the sea pool.
Allas Sea Pool has three outdoor pools, three saunas, and several change rooms and showers. There is even a bar attached! In case you don’t warm up enough from the sauna you can warm up with a drink on your way out.
One pool was closed for the evening, so only two were open; the “warm” pool and the “Cold AF” ice pool. A few questions came to my head when preparing to go ice swimming…do I swim first then book it to the sauna? Do I swim in the “warmer” pool, jump in the ice pool, then head to the sauna? How many times should I do this? Guys, I cannot answer a single one of these, so, I just made up my own little way to ice swim. I don’t know if this is the “correct” way to do it but here is what I did…
After changing into my swimsuit, I head directly to the “warm” pool. There are about a dozen people swimming; from treading water to full on Michael Phelps swimming. It’s November and the average nightly temp is just below freezing. Now, when you think of a warm pool what do you think of? In my head I thought it would be um…warm. I scootch my frozen butt into the pool and think…”nope, not warm, not warm”.
*If you follow me on Snapchat (KittytoCity), you will definitely remember this scene as I filmed it live.
The Cold “Warm” Pool
After a few moments I get used to the cold “warm” pool and get the nerves to brave the trip through the freezing cold to take a dip in the ice pool. So, I trot my icicle tits down the walkway to the ice pool and take a deep breath before shimmying down the ladder. This should be a piece of cake, right? On the other side of the pool a not-so-young woman is taking full strides in the pool, how cold could it be?
The answer: so cold it is hot! I am hanging off the ladder and only have my legs in up to my knees and the pain is something else. It tingles, but not like my legs are asleep more like 10,000 little needles are being stuck into every part of my body that is covered by frigid water.
The Cold AF Ice Sea Pool
At this moment, I know I do not need to put my entire body in the pool what I need to do is get the hell out and go the the damn warm pool. I climb out as quickly as I can and run to the warm pool. On the run back, I could not feel my legs the tingling from being in the cold water now made the muscles in my feet and calves convulse. I really wanted to do a cannonball into the warm pool, but then had better judgement and used the ladder. Oh my gosh the warm pool…it felt amazing. The tingling slowly stopped and felt like my legs were getting a massage.
Okay, I want to do this again! In about five minutes I repeat my journey. Cursing myself as I run from the warm pool to the ice pool, then getting in to only about my knees again and running back to the warm pool.
My Last Plunge
On my last jaunt to the ice pool I take a brave plunge and go in up to my neck. Mistake. Regret. Doom. That one did not feel so pleasant. Honestly, more power to the Fins for ice swimming. I could not last more than two seconds with most of my body submerged. I run back to the warm pool to catch my breath, and then head to the sauna.
So, here it is folks…I’ve done this for you. No need to go out and freeze your butt off for a fun little game of “If The Fins Do It I Should Do It Too”. Would I do it again? Hmmm…maybe. When I went to Helsinki in November the ice pool was not covered in ice. I would like to get that experience.
I did find it to be thrilling and relaxing at the same time. What is something you’ve done out of your comfort zone? Did you do it while traveling? I’d love to hear from you!