It is a rare breed of human who sees a frozen lake in a frosty Canadian winter and thinks “my this looks like a great place to swim.”
Growing up in the frozen north, year-round swimming seemed like something that was reserved for more tropical climes and winter swimming reserved for the insane or for the once-a-year polar bear dip.
But, over the past few years, cold water swimming has gained much more attention. Yes – even in Canada. Proponents boast the mental and physical health benefits. There is even science to back these claims up, including cardiovascular, immune, and mood benefits: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7730683/.
Another appeal of cold swimming (wild swimming in general), is the connection to nature and to like-minded friends.
So when this fierce troupe of hearty Canadian women sees a frozen lake, they see an opportunity to swim! For the past year, Karen, Kathryn, and Kaitlin have been swimming at least once a week. Turns out, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will stop these gals from immersing themselves in the closest lake, river, waterfall, or ocean.
I tagged along on one of their latest adventures as their official photographer to see how to wild swim in the winter.
Step 1: Snowshoe to your intended swimming hole
Step 2: Scrape and smash
Prepare your swimming surface with snow shovels and axe swings.
Like a non-delicious Nanaimo bar, there was a thick layer of ice, a layer of watery slush, and a bottom crust of 6 inches of ice. It was a wet endeavor to chop through these layers of water, slush, and ice.
An added bonus to this step: you can smash through your frustration while chopping through the ice.
Step 3: Call in more firepower (aka chainsaw)
Step 4: Show off your sweet swimsuits and dry robes
Some unsponsored product placement:
- The best bathing suits of all time – Batoko suits, made out of ocean plastic and in the cutest graphic prints!
- Cozy warm Red dry robes – an absolute essential of any wild swimmer (big enough to change under, cozy enough to keep you warm on the frostiest morning.
Step 5: Swim time!
Bonus step: Luxuriate in a sweet sauna!
The extra special treat of this particular swimming spot is the wonderful sauna.
In a surprise move, to even myself, the enthusiasm of the Sassy Squashes convinced me to go for a frosty dip.
Thanks to Kaitlin for “hosting us so hard” this weekend! It was truly wonderful!