Film director, Lasse: 'Ice dipping is terrifying but powerful'
The Vikings may have died out a few centuries ago but, on any given winter day in Denmark, their spirit lives on in the form of countless descendants (and their friends) leaping into the freezing cold sea for a spot of winter swimming.
Whereas most of us wait for baking August temperatures before venturing into the water, Danes think nothing of a cold plunge in mid-January, perhaps even breaking open the ice in the harbour to get in.
But, despite the horror many feel at subjecting oneself to such a cold-shock treatment, fans of the practice claim that the benefits are huge. Experts point out that the sudden jolt of almost-freezing water for just a few seconds boosts the immune system and stimulates blood circulation. It also gives you a rush of adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine which in turn leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling as you dry off and put your clothes on again.
Freezing with Friends
Of course, if you are crazy enough to swim in the Baltic in sub-zero temperatures, you really need a few witnesses to bear testament to your bravery (and take the very necessary Inta photos with obligatory snowflake/blue face/aubergine emojis and documentation of the exact air temperature). In true Danish hygge style, a whole social life surrounding harbour-side winter hi-jinx has grown up: it’s common to see groups of friends in towelling gowns huddled together drinking hot coffee out of flasks, comparing blue toes or congregating in nearby cafés to slowly thaw out again.
Turning the heat up a little…
If, however, you want to make your winter bathing into a bit of an occasion, there are plenty of opportunities to make it even more sociable, cosier and - yes! - perhaps a little less spartan with a whole bunch of saunas popping up to take the chill out of your post-plunge shivers.
Many seaside towns in Denmark have their own swimming clubs, but Copenhagen harbour now features Sauna by GoBoat, a state-of-the-art sauna that gets moored at different locations around the city. Seating up to twelve friends, the floating hot room features huge panoramic windows that let you see out (and others look in, so make sure you are wearing your best Pond swimwear!).
Fancy something a bit more rock n roll? Then why not hire Butcher’s Heat - a mobile sauna in a van that can be parked anywhere near water, giving you the perfect hot bolt hole after your freezing dip. And who knows? After twenty minutes in the heat, you might be persuaded to jump in again…
'Ice dipping is terrifying but powerful'
To get a first hand perspective on winter swimming, we sat down with long time pond-pal Lasse Lund, film director, swim brief aficionado and true all year round urban dipper.
Why did you start winter bathing?
It all started because of my girlfriend and her cold shower morning ritual. She then led me on to find Wim Hof - and that's when I really started taking winter bathing seriously.
I've always liked extreme conditions, but never liked freezing. I adjusted my body to accepting the cold water by taking a 10 sec cold shower each morning gradually extending to one minute.
When you start to actually enjoy the cold showers then you are ready to fully enjoy winter bathing in the harbour.
At least, that's how I did and now, for the first time in my life, I feel like temperatures around zero degrees is great weather.
How does it feel to glide into ice freezing water?
It feels terrifying, but somehow calming, at first and amazingly powerful afterwards.
What is your dipping routine?
Jump, relax, breathe, find peace (being in the water of course). I try to get in the harbour every day to keep my body in the routine. Usually with a friend or two because winterbathing is also a great way to strengthen a friendship.
Why do you prefer swim briefs when you dip?
It's so much lighter and easier to move around in briefs. Loose fitting swimwear doesn't make me feel truly free the way swimming - and swimwear - should.That's why I prefer briefs with a great fit.
This blot post was written by contributing writer and fashion editor Graham Addinall
Can you share a dip-tip to Copenhagen harbour?
Every friday morning there's a free-dancing group of happy people in front of Skuespilhuset, which makes morning dips on Fridays at Ofelia a lot of fun.