Sunday, March 17, 2013

Swimming and Dipping in Icy Finnish Water

 This was the view of the participants as we first arrived at the sauna/ice swimming location in Tampere.  We were in the area because were were attending the Living Colors Seminar for the Finnish Fulbright participants; our meeting would give us a chance to network and learn about each other's research projects. We were not disappointed!

On Friday evening after most people left, some of the Fulbright participants went down to the ice swimming hole for a celebration - a pre-arranged event engineered by Karen Lee to celebrate the arrival of Christine McCartney who had just arrived for her Fulbright experience.  We're so happy she's here and there was no better way to welcome her to Finland than to give her a truly Finnish experience.

I found these stairs down to the water are a bit overwhelming.  There is ice on the ground and ice on the outer rails. You need to understand that I get cold at 60 degrees F/15 degrees C.  This experience would be impossible for me and I did not have high hopes of accomplishing anything other than being embarrassed.  I don't even like a cool shower!

Always remember you should never swim alone.

It's a long, contemplative walk down to the water.  The "bubblers" are meant to keep the water from freezing - they are not here to warm the water.

The first step in this Finnish experience is to warm up in the sauna.  I mean, get HOT. This is the first sauna I've been in that is meant for both men and women. It was PACKED.  Body to body.  And one man was hitting his back with some kind of material or plant.  (Ick. I had to move because water was flying!)  It was truly the hottest sauna I've ever been in - so hot that it hurt my eyes.  Surprisingly, the Finns just sat there - looking quite pleased and comforted.  Relaxed. Clearly, I had a lot to get used to.

There were five of us getting mentally prepared for this "dip"  - Christine McCartney, our newbie, Amanda Siepiola, the one person who has done this before, Karen Lee, Lindsay Whorton, and me.  We were excited, nervous, and, I would say, as a group, "fearless." (Not me.) This is not a group who sits by and let the world roll on by - these are women who go out the world and truly experience it.

Out we went!


Not only did they dip, but they SWAM!  Fearless, I tell you!  Fearless!

Not me, I dipped.  That was plenty and it was WONDERFUL.  I dipped three times and then on the fourth, I just couldn't do it anymore.  Clearly, my adrenaline was all used up.  In all honesty, I can't wait to do it again - and next time - I'm bringing my brother.  He will love it, too.  :)

Here's Christine's group picture and a link to her blog:

 We asked the man to pose with us and he reluctantly said, "Yes."  It does add a bit of local personality to the picture, don't you think? 

1 comment:

  1. More power to ya.

    Just between us, I'm a Finn and I've never done that, and never would. You're either very brave or very suggestible :-)