Winter swimming in Seinäjoki
Avanto, a hole in the ice. Primitive instincts tell me to stay away from the frozen, dark depths and here I am, once again taking a step in to the icy waters for fun.
I had this extreme idea of trying out how does it feel to spook yourself three times during one day by going in to the avanto. I was planning this day yesterday with curiosity, how would it feel? Would there be consequences, or will I completely regret this idea? It ended up boosting up one of my ordinary Thursday’s through the roof.
Seinäjoki has 3 different spots for ice swimming. This day, I experienced all three of them in one day.
Morning start at Sahalampi, a popular swimming place near the city center. Sahalampi has a small changing room, where you can dry up after the swim. For the box, you can get a key from the Liikuntatoimisto. I was lucky to meet one experienced ice swimmer who let me the box to change my clothes before going into the water. After she had spent a blissful looking time in the water, she dressed up and jumped on her bike, continuing her paths. Me, I was frozen. It was the first time I had tried avanto without the warmth of a sauna!
The first swim felt so weird! The water was so freezing that it felt like hot needles all around me! I took a few strolls and that really was enough for me. When you go into the cold water, your body starts making endorphins. It soothes your mind too, also avanto boosts body’s defence system and gets the blood running. There are plenty of positive health benefits you will get from ice swimming. For me the most noticeable thing is avanto’s energizing boost. I also feel like all my stress and fatigue is cleansed away when I emerge myself into the coldness.
I went back home for a warm shower and rushed to work. I never felt so fresh! Morning avanto is a thing that I want to make a tradition of. It waked me up better than any bitter coffee could!
After work I had to try and convince my friends to join me on a small campfire picnic & avanto. Luckily my old friend Joni joined me on this slightly absurd joy of after work avanto. We drove to Veneskoski. The Veneskoski avanto and sauna site is held by Veneskoski-Viitala-seura. They have a sauna, changing rooms and a place for a campfire.
This place is full of summer memories. I have been coming here since I can remember. Now the beach was covered in snow and the cloudy sky seemed like it was about to make a blizzard. If all this avanto hype seems weird to you I guarantee that you will understand the idea of avanto right when you have done it. Your body reacts in a wave like boost after a temperature shock has passed. Trust me, you will understand ‘’feeling fresh’’ on another level afterward
There’s never a bad time for a picnic. I had some soy sausages and rye sandwiches for us. During night time Veneskoski looks like a movie scene, the Veneskoski-Viitala-seura has picturesque inviting sauna facilities and the path to the ice hole is decorated with xmas lights.
This time I only took a quick visit in the water. I still felt very energized but in a very peaceful way. We had our picnic and put out the fire. There aren’t many things that taste like a happy memory, but hot oat chocolate after avanto is one of those, it really was worth it’s weight of gold at that moment.
A list of things you should have with you when ice swimming
- Slippers, easy shoes
- Something warm to drink
- A friend! You should never go alone!
The sun was about to set, and I still wanted to try out the last avanto in Seinäjoki. Tanelinranta is in Hyllykallio and is easily accessible from the central station by bus. The avanto and sauna are operated by Lakeuden Avantouimarit. They also keep the avanto at Sahalampi running.
I think this time, I had found that blissful mood like that swimmer I met during the morning swim. Enjoying avanto is also about overcoming yourself. There are moments when I feel like turning away from the icy water hole. But most often, I just do it before I even start thinking twice. And then it’s done, and I can feel how my batteries are loaded full of positive energy.
My sister had a great tip for the ones who haven’t yet dared to try ice swimming. She said: “If you ever need to get over something in your life, you can overcome it by surrendering to it. It’s the same with avanto, you recognize your fears and then you can leave them in the icy lake bottom!’’
I was talking to one member of the Lakeuden Avantouimarit, she told that they are waiting for a Japanese documentary team to visit Seinäjoki next week. It seems that ice swimming is really gathering a lot of interest! It’s no wonder! For someone who isn’t familiar with the cold of the north, snow can be a complete mystery and swimming in ice seems crazy dangerous. (but fun)
During Saturdays the Tanelinranta’s sauna & avanto is often full of ice bathing locals. There are separate shower and changing rooms for female and men. As usual, the sauna is shared with everyone. If it’s your first time going to avanto, you will surely get good advices from the daily swimmers.
Okay! So how do I feel after swimming in ice 3 times today? -Fresh! Not packed with energy, but my muscles and joints feel tip-top. I would say that the feeling after 1 swim is the same if you had done it 3 times so nothing too drastic happened.
What could be a better way to celebrate this highly boosted day than soul warming cuisine. Vinola is a delightful bar & Bistro right in the new town square. I was feeling oddly dreamy, happy about successfully going into all of Seinäjoki’s avanto swimming places and that sauna in Tanelinranta really swiped my feet of. Vinola’s vegan pesto pasta was just what I needed in that moment. They also serve vegan vines which go great with these authentic flavours. From the window I saw people rushing the streets with heavy winter clothes on. I hope that even some of them knew how liberating it is to emerge into the cold for a while.
Visit Seinäjoki challenges you to try out ice swimming, there’s still plenty of time before spring arrives!
Blog writer; a local who enjoys creating and loves avanto-
Ilta Lauriina Lahti