• The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust

Swim in the Ice Hole



Interest in outdoor swimming in a hole in the ice or ‘ice pool’ has grown from one year to the next and the number of such swimming holes in Finland has increased. Winter outdoor swimming is suitable for almost everyone but if you suspect problems in regard to your health, contact a doctor first and discuss the risks associated with this activity.

Winter swimming is the activity of swimming during the winter season, typically in outdoor locations (open water swimming) or in unheated pools or lidos.In Eastern Europe and Russia winter swimming is part of the celebration of the Epiphany. Competitions for winter swimming also exist. Many winter swimmers swim with standard swimming costumes rather than with wetsuits or other thermal protection.

One way that the hole is maintained at regular ice swimming places is with a pump that forces the water to circulate under the hole, preventing ice from forming. Small ice-holes can also be kept open by keeping a lid/top over the hole to prevent ice forming.

Guidelines for winter outdoor swimming

  • Before entering the water read any rules there might be and obey them. These may vary from place to place.

  • It is a good idea to warm up your muscles before entering the water, e.g. with a walk using walking poles, or by skiing.

  • Take a companion with you when going swimming in a hole in the ice, so that if something should happen your companion can assist you.

  • You should not go too quickly from the sauna into the water or vice versa because the temperature difference between the sauna and the water may stress the heart and the change in blood pressure can cause dizziness.

  • It is best to use shoes or woollen socks for walking to the hole in the ice. Special slippers are available for winter swimmers which also protect the wearer’s feet against slipperiness, sharp stones and salt.

  • When walking to the ice hole remember that paths and steps may be slippery. Walk slowly and carefully.

  • Never dive head first into a swimming hole in the ice. Diving and getting your head wet is not recommended, since this increases heat loss and can lead to cold shock.

  • When first entering the water take a quick ‘dip’ but do not swim. This is because the cold water can cause perfectly normal, harmless gasping for breath. Once your body has adjusted to the cold, you can gradually increase the time you spend in the water.

  • After going to the sauna and having a swim put on warm clothing and if necessary drink a warm beverage.

  • For safety reasons, if you observe any deficiencies in the facility, you should immediately inform the supervisor.

  • In an emergency call for help immediately. Before you go swimming, make sure you know how to summon help. The emergency services number is 112.


Success stories

gabie dibble

Nov 20 at 20:33 pm
Fun //and interesting

Siru Wallin

Jan 10 at 20:47 pm
I am a Finn, so of course :)