Swim and glow in winter

What is it that gives winter swimmers that glow? I asked myself this question again, when I saw healthy and invigorated swimmers in The Finnish Winter Swimming Championships in Ähtäri. There are many answers to that question, both scientific and experiential.

One professor has said: “Lack of ‘thermal exercise’ may cause inadequate functioning of the brain.” A cold dip is a trigger, a positive stress to swimmer’s body and mind. This so called eustress helps you to maintain and improve your health.

Many winter swimmers say that they feel strongly alive in water and after a swim. No wonder, because they experience a hormone boost of endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline, cortisol and oxytocin. But it’s not only about the hormones. It’s also about experiencing outdoors and nature and cold water giving instant whole body sensations and feedback.

Winter Swimming event connected people of different ages (from two to eighty-two), backgrounds and parts of the country. Old friends met and new friends were made in this gathering of thousand swimmers. Every swimmer in the ice pool was cheered. Getting encouragement and cheering from other people also makes one glow.

Now when “the Beast from the East” brings minus temperatures to a large part of Europe, thermal exercise is easy to get. Expose yourself to cold, whether it be the Polar Vortex chilly wind or cold water. But remember only winter swimming gives you the glow. 🙂

PS. I succeed in taking medals in two races. Phew. In middle of long working days in the event…:)

Photos in this second slider are by Timo Ahopelto, more photos by him in this gallery. In the first slider the first photo is by Timo Ahopelto, photos 2.-4. are by Jukka Vuorinen, the rest by author.

The Finnish Winter Swimming Championships are organised by The Outdoor Association of Finland and local event organisers. The Association organises the first European Winter Swimming Championships in 2019 – welcome!