Crazy winter pastime: CNN reporter tries Finnish-style ice dipping, a super shortcut to a “runner’s high”

Christina Macfarlane of CNN trying ice dipping in Finland

If you’re in some weird country with weird traditions, why not try them out? That must have been the idea of a CNN Sports anchor Christina Macfarlane…. or her producers.

Macfarlene was shooting a couple of episodes of the popular show Alpine Edge at World Cup Levi last week, far north at a ski resort in Finnish Lapland. Somehow, she ended up trying the good old dip in a lake from a hole in the ice, assisted by an experienced enthusiast.

This obviously freezing tradition of a sometimes sawed holed in the ice goes under the name avanto in Finnish, vak in Swedish.

Dipping into ice cold water is traditionally said to have health benefits for blood circulation and the like. However, recent research shows that cold swimming is associated with a higher risk of strokes, but we don’t know if that’s true for Finnish style dips.

So, dip, don’t stay in the water, for goodness sakes. Also, protip, don’t submerge your head.

Personally, I haven’t tried just going into the ice cold water, but I enjoy it when combined with sauna… In conjunction with sauna, you can try going into a hole in the ice couple of times in a row, followed by warming up. If you get a taste for it. It’s a nice contrast and will set you off on quite an endorphin kick.

Either way, you’re guaranteed a good night’s sleep afterwards. Also, just look at the smile on this woman’s face in the photo below. That smugness just screams “legal high”.

Woman enjoying a traditional Finnish dip rhtough a hole in the ice

Traditional Finnish swimming in a hole in the ice, avanto. Image credit.

If you have the opportunity to try something like this, make sure you’ve got company and are on one of those little piers common at cottages, public beaches and the like. And, talk to your doctor beforehand if you have a heart condition.

Lakeside hole in the ice in Finland

Finnish lakeside pier with a hole in the ice. Image credit.


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16 replies

  1. But isn’t it a thing that mostly belongs with going to the sauna? Like, coming out, dip, go back in for the next round? Not just dipping like that. Al least that’s what I thought.

    • No, many people do it every day, often before going to work. Actually it’s probably better that way. Most people don’t have an available sauna by the lake, either.

      • Only if you have poor health and heart problems. There has been made several studies about “avantouinti” (ice dipping), and about 99% of them tell you it’s safe and actually good for your health. Every one of my ice dipping friends/relatives have exceptionally good health and they almost never get colds.

  2. Some yrs ago I used to “winter swim” and what a wonderful feeling after it! And no SAUNA before or after ? The colder weather the better feeling ?

  3. Ice swimming is everything swimming should not be. If there’s ice on water that screams don’t swim in me :):)

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