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A winter swimmer knows what it feels like to take stimulants and sedatives at the same time. That tingling on the skin and warmth radiating from the inside is an addictive sensation that makes a person return to the icy water again and again. Even as a child at the winter camps of our scout troop, I remember how we sprinted from the sauna to the frozen lake and ran around for a long time butt-naked before taking a dip in the ice hole. That wonderfully relaxed feeling of pleasure that also made all the senses more keen ushered us to a peaceful and deep sleep at the end of eventful camp days full of activities.

The sensations described above are supported by a study by Pirkko Huttunen, docent of thermobiology from the University of Oulu, on the physiological effects of ice swimming and the cold. According to Huttunen, ice swimming balances adrenaline levels so that high levels fall and low ones rise. That is why ice swimming is found to be both calming and refreshing – as needed. Ice swimming also increases the production of beta-endorphin, a pleasure hormone, making it an addictive hobby: the experience must be recreated again and again.

One addict is my co-worker Minna who has been indulging in ice swimming regularly for the last six years. “You can drown all your worries in the ice hole”, she says. The benefits of regular swimming include its health effects and your body relaxing already as you go in the ice hole, without your breath catching. After starting the hobby, the common cold has become a thing of the past. Taking a dip in the cold water is the most enjoyable when the body is already warm, such as after sweaty exercise. It is safe to go ice swimming with a friend, and it is also unmatched as a social event. To start the hobby, you only need a brave mind, neoprene gloves and slippers as well as a beanie!

Check out these ice swimming destinations

You can get acquainted with the hobby in practice, for example, at the following ice swimming destinations in Tavastia:

1. Ahvenisto

Olympiakatu 18–20, Hämeenlinna
The lump payment for the key is €29 and it can be redeemed from the Kastelli service point. Reservations of the lakeside sauna from TG Ahvenisto Oy.

2. Aulanko

Linnanen 77, Hämeenlinna
The lump payment for the key is €29 and it can be redeemed from the Kastelli service point. No sauna access.

3. Porrinahde

Porrinahde, Hauho
The key is free of charge and can be redeemed from the Hauho library. No sauna access.

4. Suruton

Alasjärventie, Tervakoski
An illuminated ice hole that is kept open mechanically, warm changing area and shower. Access to the ice hole with a seasonal fee. On Saturdays, there are sauna shifts for men and women that require advance enrolment.
The ice hole and sauna are maintained by Suruton ry.

5. Liinalammi

Liinalammintie 3, Turenki
Ice hole that is kept open mechanically and has motion sensor lighting. A heat mat for the pier and heated railings to the ice hole. The warm changing room works with a code that can be redeemed from the town hall for a fee.
The ice hole is maintained by the municipality of Janakkala.

6. Apia

Saunapolku 7/Urheilukatu 20, Valkeakoski
The sauna in Apia is heated from October each year to the end of April the following year. For more detailed information and prices, see the website of Apian avantouimarit.
The ice hole and sauna are maintained by Apian avantouimarit ry.

7. Räyskälä

Räyskäläntie 311, Loppi
Independent winter swimming can be enjoyed throughout the winter season by paying a one-time swimming fee of €7 or a seasonal fee of €110 on site. The sauna is heated for winter swimmers every Wednesday at 6–9 pm and Sunday at 4–7 pm. The sauna is mixed-gender so swimsuits need to be used.
The ice hole and sauna are maintained by the Räyskälä Foundation.

8. Piilikangas

Piilikangas is located by Koskentie about 7 kilometres from the town centre, Koskentie 687, Ypäjä.
In winter in Piilikangas, you can go from the warm sauna of the Tuottajain Tupa cottage to take a dip in the ice hole. During the winter, the saunas are heated on Wednesdays and Sundays at 6–9 pm. Prices €5 for an adult or €8 for the whole family.
The ice hole and saunas are maintained by Kuusjoenkulman kyläyhdistys and MTK-Ypäjä ry.

9. Valkjärvi camp site swimming area

Tulikalliontie 80, Puujaa
The ice swimming season starts in September and ends in May, the sauna is heated on Mondays at 4–6 pm, the seasonal price is €70/35.

10. Ykslammi

Riihiviidantie 624, Ryttylä
Quickly deepening beach, pier, changing rooms, outhouses, lean-to (bring your own firewood), Ryttylän Kiri’s outdoor cabin, ice swimming in the winter.

11. Puujoki, INRA cabin

Uimalantie 27, Ryttylä
Kitchen, fireplace, sauna, outdoor barbecue, cottage rentals in the summer, ice swimming in the winter. Enquiries: Sinikka Hutri, +358 40 592 6764

12. Lastukka

Nokkatie 5 A, 37500 Lempäälä
Tue and Thu at 4–9.30 pm and Sun at 3–9.30 pm. Sauna and swimming.
Ice swimming is organised by the fitness division of Lempäälän Kisa.

13. Rantala

Ruodasjärventie 50, 37560 Lempäälä
Tue and Thu at 4–9.30 pm and Sun at 3–9.30 pm. Sauna and swimming.
Ice swimming is organised by the fitness division of Lempäälän Kisa.