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Cold Water Swimming

Throughout the ages people have been going ice swimming, but now going for a dip in a frozen lake is the trendiest thing ever. Join Elinor Jakobsson as she goes swimming in Fillstabäcken brook.

They say that if you can control your mind you can control your body. And that is exactly what cold water swimming is about. Making up your mind, focusing and then stepping into the 2-3C water – no matter what your body tells you.

Elinor Jakobsson has always loved swimming but in recent years ice-bathing has become a new passion.

“The swimming season in Jämtland is quite short, so if I were only to go swimming during the summer, I wouldn’t get many opportunities. Ice-bathing is fantastic, it gives you peace of mind and it’s also fun at the very same time”, she says.

Happier and healthier

Cold-water swimming is said to make us happier, healthier and exhilarated. It is good for creativity and gives you great self-confidence. What happens in your body is actually a cold-shock response. When you lower yourself into the water your blood vessels contract, your pulse goes up and your blood pressure rises. The stress reaction gives you an endorphin high, which is why ice-bathers often are enthusiastic and energized afterwards.

Elinor usually prepares herself very carefully before a swim. She puts on several layers of clothes and considers which ones are easy to take off. She makes tea and brings a thermos, she fills up a bottle with warm water to heat herself up with after bathing and this time, she also brings a heated wheat-bag to keep her hands warm.

“But the most important thing is your mental state. You have to set your mind to it and then believe that it will go just fine. For this particular swim, the water in Fillstabäcken stream was about 2-3 degrees Celsius and the air temperature was about -23 degrees. “But”, she says, “it is more about the sensation in your body than the actual temperature.”

Places for ice bathing

For anyone wanting to try cold water swimming or ice bathing there are plenty of places to choose from. If you’re prepared to cut a hole in the ice yourself, there’s no end of options. Elinor recommends Kungsgårdsviken and Minnesgärdet.

Surfbukten has a hole in the ice that is maintained all through winter. Keep an eye on the Facebook group “Vinterbad Östersund” for up-to-date information. There is also a hole in the ice by the boatyard on Frösön that is kept open, and there’s normally ice swimming, a sauna and a hot tub at Vinterparken – but that is temporarily closed due to Covid.

Did you know that there are also advanced plans to build a cold-water swimming pool in Östersund? The plan is that the swimming pool will be 280 sqm and be located by the island at the pedestrian bridge connecting Frösön with Badhusparken. Just before Christmas politicians gave the go-ahead to the Committee on Environment and Community Development to proceed with their plans for the cold-water swimming pool.

Remember this when you go for a swim

Never go swimming alone
Bring something warm to drink afterwards
Bring shoes or sandals and gloves to wear while you’re in the water
Bring warm clothes that are easy to put back on
Consult your doctor if you have high blood pressure or other medical conditions