We, in this family, we are Wild Swimmers!
I actually think I can remember that either dad, my aunts, or one of my cousins have said this exact sentence to me when I was little. Me standing there with blue lips, yellow swimming suite and a determination in my eyes. And if they haven’t said that, then they should have. Because that is what we are. In this post I want to share my love for wild swimming and my 5 top tip for a successful wild swim.
There is pride in a good outdoor dip
We do not fear the cold blue depths, but instead throw ourselves in the sea with joyful squeals. We prefer sea water, but we do not say no to alluring black forest lakes either.
Collecting wild swim locations
Now you know where my wild swim enthusiasm comes from. It comes from the heart. My enthusiasm actually goes so far that whenever I travel to a new place, it is very important for me to swim in the nearest lake or sea. One might say that I collect places to swim. And I especially collect seas. This mean that I've had a dip in many strange places. Like the icy crystal clear water at the Helgelands coast (Norway), or the warm Mediterranean swells on Kalymnos (Greece), and finally in the middle of the cold Atlantic, north on the Faroe Islands.
5 wild swim tip:
1. Always bring a nice towel. You will always regret it if you bring a silly micro-fleece tour towel.
2. Bring a bikini or swimsuit, there might be people around who don't like skinny-dipping.
3. Slippers or shoes for bathing with, if there is a rocky seabed. Or a lot of mussels/seaweed, like in Norway.
4. If you are having a swim in cold water you should ALWAYS bring warm clothes. I always bring wool and a down jacket.
5. Bring a snack and some warm coffee in a thermos.
If all these things are in order, you will have the perfect dip to look forward to.
Faroese folklore about sea people: The Selkies
Selkies are said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land.
A young farmer from the town of Mikladalur on Kalsoy sneaked down to the beach to watch the selkies dance. He hides, and when no one is looking he steals the skin of a beautiful selkie maiden, so she cannot go back to sea, thus forcing her to marry him.
He keeps her skin in a chest, and has the key with him both day and night. They live together on his farm for many years, and they have beautiful children. But she remain restless and misses the sea more and more for every day that passes.
One day when out fishing, he discovers that he has forgotten to bring the key. He rushed home only to find that his selkie wife has escaped back to sea, leaving their children behind.
I do not know if the legend is true, but the Faroese have made a stunning sculpture of the selkie woman in the village of Mikladalur. It really took my breath away and it is one of my favorite places on these islands.
Why a wild swim is worth it
A wild swim for me is about the feeling of jumping into the water and disappearing completely, it is about floating away or swimming long breast strokes until your arms ache, but most importantly it's about being with others and sharing a lovely experience in nature.
Because it is extra fun when you can splash a little on your uptight girlfriend or race the guys to the other shore.
I asked two of my best arctic mermaids about what it is with outdoor swimming that makes them happy.
Thea: Why do you like bathing outdoors?
Synneva: I love the refreshing feeling of bathing outdoors. Moreover, I love all the beautiful views and places you find when going to swimming spots.
Thea: What is your best tips for an outdoor dip?
Synneva: In Norway, the water is often freezing. My best tips when bathing in cold water is to go naked and to go fast. There is no fun in getting too cold (which you might get if you wear cold, wet bathing gear, or if you stay in the cold water for too long).
Thea: Where is your favourite bathing spot?
Synneva: I have many favourite spots! One of them is my aunt's place in Norheimsund, with a beautiful view of Hardangervidda. Another favourite spot is Isteren, a mountain lake, where my family and I spent most summers during my childhood.
Thea: What is it with having a bath outside that makes you happy?
Beate: I love swimming in general, but having a bathe in the nature is refreshing, calming and it definitely wakes me up!
Thea: What's your best outdoor bathing experience?
Beate: My best outdoor bathing experience was evening skinny dipping in cold winter-water with a bunch of other girls, with wollen socks on our feet and beanie on our heads
Thea: What has been your coldest dip?
Beate: The coldest dip must have been after a hike in the mountains this summer. Even though it was July, there was still snow and it was melting where I was taking a bath. Brr!!