Wild Swimming on a Nordic Summer Holiday

Wild Swimming on a Nordic Summer Holiday.

Wild swimming has increased in popularity in the UK in recent years. People appear to embracing the idea of taking a dip in natural waters after years of swimming up and down lanes in a chlorine-filled swimming pool.

But while it’s still quite a novelty here, swimming in the outdoors is totally normal in the Nordic countries, and “wild swimming” is a somewhat strange concept – that’s just how you go for a swim!

If it’s warm enough, why would you swim indoors?

Children are taught to swim at a young age and spend most of their childhood splashing in lakes, rivers and the sea.

Most children in the Nordic countries will grow up swimming wild from an early age.
Most children in the Nordic countries will grow up swimming wild from an early age. Photo: John Hartshorn.

For those who are not convinced, there are many benefits of swimming outdoors. It increases circulation, gives your immune system a boost and it burns more calories than robotically paddling up and down a lane. Plus, it’s much more enjoyable!

Water temperatures will of course vary greatly depending on factors such as the time of year, how far north you are, the depth of the water and the weather conditions a few days beforehand, but in general, lake and archipelago waters in Sweden and Finland can easily reach 20 degrees C or more in the height of summer, making the water very comfortable for swimming.

On the other hand, deeper lakes such as those in the Norwegian fjords, or lakes in the far north, may remain cold throughout the summer and in some cases temperatures may be only in single figures – be particularly careful if the water is cold.

Winter swimming is also popular for the brave in Sweden, Norway and Finland in connection with a traditional sauna, but you may want to just have a roll in the snow to cool down quickly as it can be quite a shock to the system!

Enjoy diving - but check the depth of the water and for any hazards first!
Enjoy diving – but check the depth of the water and for any hazards first! Photo: Josh Meaden.

Please remember that any sort of swimming has its risks and you should always be sensible in the water.

Never swim alone, as wild waters won’t have the benefit of a lifeguard. If it’s very cold, get in the water gently, as the shock of the cold water can cause breathing difficulties.

However, leaping into a lake on a hot summer’s day is highly recommended. If it’s deep enough, why not practise your dive, as a belly flop can be painful but does have the added bonus of splashing any surrounding bystanders!

  • Before diving, always check the depth of the water carefully first allowing a wide margin for saftey.
  • Check for any hidden hazards such as underwater rocks.
  • Be aware that rocks can be very slippery – take great care when moving around to avoid a fall.
A refreshing dip is one of the great joys of a Nordic summer.
A refreshing dip is one of the great joys of a Nordic summer. Photo: Stephen le Beau.

Travelling to the Nordic countries for some wild camping and swimming is a real adventure. Many children who live in countries where restrictions prevent them from doing these things do not get to experience the magic of wild swimming and the confidence it builds – for local children, this is a central part of growing up.

Many of our summer experiences involve water, from timber rafting and

to staying in a log cabin by a lake and you will have the opportunity for a swim the way nature intended.