Winter Swimming in the Swedish Mountains

“Of course I had had time to prepare mentally, but a cold bath did not feel completely like my cup of tea, especially when looking at the thermometer outside my kitchen window. I put on my swim suit, a cosy base layer made from wool and a loose fit pair of trousers and sweater with a down jacket on top. A very large cosy robe was included in my bag as well as a pair of shoes to wear in the water to protect against sharp stones on the lake bottom.”

No turning back Maria Wilhelmsson
"Now there was no turning back. I had to do it". Photo: Maria Wilhelmsson

The Colleagues Made Me Say Yes to Winter Swimming

My colleagues where already having morning coffee when I entered the staff room. They eagerly flipped through a book full of pictures of historical cold baths. There was no end to the architectural jewelry and texts about prosperous and long life thanks to regular cold dips. Before I even had time to pour my coffee, they told me they had already booked a day for a joint first winter swim. Great fun, I thought. I who barely bathe even during the hottest summer days.

But, if all the colleagues have booked a day for a cold swim, I should not be the one to take away the pleasure of us challenging each other together. It also felt a little exciting. I had never thought of winter bathing myself, so this would be my chance to try it out and in the safe company of my colleagues.

Holding towel Maria Wilhelmsson
Never go winter swimming alone. Photo: Maria Wilhelmsson

I Tried My Best to Come Prepared

A few days later I had admittedly had time to prepare myself mentally, but a cold swim did not feel completely attractive with the minus degrees that the thermometer outside the kitchen window showed. I put on my swimsuit and a cozy wool base layer. Then a loose fit sweater and pants under a down jacket. A large bathrobe was included in the bag as well as a pair shoes to wear in the water to protect against sharp stones on the lake bottom.

Heart shaped wake Maria Wilhelmsson
A perfectly sized wake. Photo: Maria Wilhelmsson

We Reminded Each Other to Breathe Normally

When we got down to the beach and the open wake, it turned out that it was only me and one of the colleagues who were actually going to implement the plan. But it was too late to go back now, I thought.

I left my woolen hat on and I still felt warm from the brisk walk down to the beach. The towel and the dry clothes were left on the bag, carefully laid out to be quick to put back on.

Eagerly cheered on by our colleagues, we took one step into the water, then another and another. We looked at each other and made eye contact to remind each other to breathe as normal as we could in the freezing cold water of the lake.

Winter swim ice light Sami Vaihoja
Mark your wake to prevent others from mistakingly falling in. Photo: Sami Vaihoja

Heroes of the Day

We quickly crouched down to our chins in the icy lake water and went up again with quick steps accompanied by cheers from our coworkers. We had just become today’s heroes. I felt healthy and this warm feeling spread through all parts of my body and this feeling stayed the rest of the day. There was this incredible positive energy flowing through my body.

That night I slept like a baby. It was a long time since I slept that way.

Frozen bath shorts Maria Wilhelmsson
No starch needed... Photo: Maria Wilhelmsson

Suddenly I was a Winter Swimmer

I couldn´t help it, I wanted to feel that warm energetic feeling again. The brave colleague and I decided to make the winter swimming into a routine.

And jus maybe, I will also look on summer bathing with a completely different set of eyes…

Moonlight winter swim Sami Vaihoja
Moonlight Winter swim. Photo: Sami Vaihoja

About Winter Swimming

Winter swimming is swimming during the winter, often in a hole in the ice .

Winter baths create a firework of endorphins in the body

The advantages of winter baths are the way it makes you feel. The cold water makes the blood spin extra fast in the central parts of the body and then stress hormones such as adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol are released to raise blood sugar. A firework of endorphins is released in connection with the bath. Endorphins are sometimes called the body’s own morphine because it acts as an antidepressant and makes us feel energized.

Most winter swimmers say they do it to get the feeling of well-being, reduced stress and to get muscles and joints to relax. It may well be that the stress response that the body induces helps to resolve inflammation and other types of stress symptoms.

To get more long-lasting positive effects from cold swims, studies show that you need to go for a dip as often as four to seven times a week.

Winter swimming river Indalsälven Maria Wilhelmsson
Winter swimming in the river Indalsälven. Photo: Maria Wilhelmsson

Some good advice for a winter swim

  • Plan your attire so that it is easy to get dressed when you get up.
  • Lay out your clothes in the right order so that it is easy to put them on again.
  • A thick bathrobe is nice to have on hand.
  • Keep the (wool) hat on your head when you take a winter bath (dipping your head is for experienced bathers)
  • Take a brisk walk or similar so that you are warm inside before you take your dip in the ice hole.
  • Take it easy when you go into the water. If you are bathing in a hole in the ice, you should have a ladder so that you can get up easily.
  • When your body wants to breathe heavily in the cold, you need to remember to exhale as well.
  • Stay in the water for 5-20 seconds.
  • Never bathe alone, if you are ill or under the influence of alcohol. If you have heart and vascular diseases, you should check with a doctor before you decide to go for a dip in an ice hole.
  • Dress warmly after the dip and drink hot drinks.
  • Take it easy and keep in mind that bathing is at your own risk.
winter swim Lofsdalen
Winter swimming by the Uppvallen farmstead in Lofsdalen with your own sauna.

Winter Swimming in a Mountain Creek – Lofsdalen

Uppvallens Fäbod is a summer grazing farm (also called shieling) in the middle of the mountain village Lofsdalen. They offer refreshing winter dips in the nearby mountain creek. After your swim there is a cosy sauna to warm up in. The site is open during week number 7 to 10 (Mid February to Mid March). Book the site for your own private swim by calling +46 (0)70 – 293 68 93 (Carola).

Winter swim Hedeviken Kenneth Grym
Relaxed winter swim in Hedeviken. Photo: Kenneth Grym

Winter swimming in Destination Vemdalen

Destination Vemdalen has several good spots for cooling off. Most of them are kept open thanks to locals. Please be careful and remember bathing is at your own risk.

Vemhån village

Park by the so called Busklandet in the village Vemhån for swimming in a hole in the ice with a ladder in lake Håsjön. You will find information via the facebook group Vemhån-gruppen.

Sonfjällscampen Camp site

The camp site is at the foothills of Mount Sonfjället and the National Park. Park by the village Hedeviken and walk to the camp site Sonfjällscampen. There is no parking closer to the water. Open the lid covering the hole in the ice and slide into the freezing water.

Klövsjö village

Close to where the villagers keep their boats there is usually a maintained hole in the ice. There is a parking next to the site and information is shared through Klövsjö anslagstavla on facebook.

Storhogna Spa and Storhogna M

Book Storhogna högfjällshotell & spa so called Fjällviste with sauna and a dip in a cold mountain spring. There is also a larger swimming pool inside the hotel if you like to do a few turns.

At Storhogna M there is a cold pool indoors for relaxing sore skiers after a tough day in the slopes.

Winterswim creek Fillstabäcken Lina Johansson
Winter swim in the creek Fillstabäcken. Photo: Lina Johansson

Winter Swimming in Östersund

SURFBUKTEN – Surfer´s Bay

Surfbukten is seen from the pedestrian bridge connecting the city Östersund with the island Frösön. In winter the winter swimmers of the city take turns keeping the hole in the ice open.

VINTERPARKEN – The Winter Park

In the Winter Park Vinterparken, in the park Badhusparken you can choose to book your own wood fired bathtubs with sauna and a connected hole in the ice for a dip in lake Storsjön or you can attend while the bath is open to the public.

Vinterbad Tegeforsen Sami Vaihoja
Winter Swimmers by the Tegeforsen fall. Photo: Sami Vaihoja

Winter Swimming in Åre

Winter Experiences with “Yoga with Fia”

How about winter dips, sauna, yoga and a tea ceremony in one wonderful “spoil-your-self-package”. Yoga with Fia in Åre village will see to it that you are properly prepared for all stages of the experience. She also offers a cosy stay.

A Hole in the Ice by Holiday Club of Åre

The All Inclusive at Holiday Club of Åre includes instructions for a winter swim and a group visit to the hole in the ice out at lake Åresjön.

Winter swimming at Riverlodge

Get picked up in the Åre village and travel by dog sled to the cosy Riverlodge. While you take a dip in the icy water and warm up in the sauna the host is preparing a spicy hot winter stew on the stove. After the meal you will get a lift back to Åre.


The rapids aren´t that high but enough to keep the water open for most of the winter. Please be carful and never bathe alone, not here in the rapids or anywhere. You will find the rapids along the old road between Åre and Duved. There is a parking lot with a shelter by the rapids.

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