Thanks to Scott at Tylo/Helo Inc. for sharing more information about winter ice swimming. Nice little list (in English even) titled the “ABC of Winterswimming” put out by an outfit in Tampere, Finland. Copy/pasted with(out) permission.
1. Listen to your body!
There are various creeds about orthodox winter swimming. Most common way is to plunge first and last in the cold water and do some sauna in between. But if this makes you shiver for the rest of the evening, you can also go first and last to sauna. Some swimmers like a quick dip, some swim round and enjoy the coldness. Some stay for hours, some count their plunges. Some like to warm themselves slowly, some prefer a heat that really hits them. The only true way is to listen to your own body, it tells you what is good for you!
2. Recognize your limits
Winter swimming relaxes and keeps you in good health, but it is also an extreme sport. If you are feverish, avanto is the last place where you should be; if you have any heart disease or blood pressure problems, consult your doctor before winterswimming. Avanto and sauna are also no places for horse-play. Endurance in avanto comes only with years of experience. Even veterans shun long swims after a break; and extreme hot steam takes practice too. Do not engage in “playing chicken” in our sauna with first-timers! We keep a sauna for winterswimmers, we have no capacity in emergencies except call for help.
3. Be prepared
A swimming suit is obligatory. We also recommend some kind of slippers/socks to protect your feet against the hot wood in the sauna and sharp things in surroundings. Most of the regular visitors are wearing a hat, “pipa”, which protects your head and hair against the heat and keeps your body warm in the avanto. Take a wooden seat with you to the sauna, as the benches are hot. After sauna you perhaps feel cold and your blood sugar is low, so dry your hair, dress warmly, and bring something to drink and if you feel like it, a snack too. If you bring first timers, please see that they are also prepared!
4. Drink enough!
Sauna takes a lot of your energy, so remember to drink something, otherwise you may feel faint! We have drinking-water taps in the showers, the stokers sell drinks (2,5€), or feel free to bring your own. Alcohol is not a good idea in sauna, as it intensifies its effects, and you are apt to be thirstier and feel fainter than before. Again please look after the first-timers with you!
5. Close the door, please!
To get in and out the sauna you pass by the door. But also heat steels out the same way! The more we are, the more congestion there forms at the door, and the faster the heat runs out. To ensure sufficient heat for everybody until closing time, please avoid keeping the door open unnecessarily! Again, do tell the visitors you bring with you about this too!
6. Peace in sauna
“Saunapeace” is a sacred thing for us Finns. We are proud of our sauna and we like to have it together. Remember to enjoy sauna and avanto – and remember to let others enjoy them too! Give room to everybody, give heat (löyly) to all. Peace in sauna and good will among people!
Enjoy your stay at Kaupinoja!
Avanto = the hole in ice where we practice winterswimming
Sauna = for purifying mind and body
Löyly = the spirit of sauna that rises when you throw water on the stove
Kiuas = stove in sauna
Pipa = small knitted hat, Tampere dialect (pipo in Finnish)
Makkara = Finnish sausage to be fried after sauna