Even if one might not want to admit it, the swim in the cold lake is a challenge each and every time! Even though it probably should have developed into a routine by now. At least that’s what you’d think. Every day, I walk down to Wolfgangsee lake, collect my thoughts for a moment and then go for a swim. 365 days a year. Yes, that’s right! I swim in Wolfgangsee lake every single day of the year. And I’m far from being the only one. Many, well, to be completely honest, some locals from around the lake do it just like me. Summer as well as winter, whether during sunshine, rain and even when it’s snowing. To the “uninitiated”, or in other words, those not yet used to seeing swimming trunks and bathing suits, it might be a rather strange sight when they, wrapped up in warm winter clothes, are greeted by people walking out of the steaming lake who then quickly dry themselves off. But those of us who have been following our passion for many years really believe in it. It’s both a fountain of youth as well as a method for toughening up. Because feeling frosty, getting a cold or even the flu is something that hasn’t affected us in a long time. But one thing after another. Surely you have many questions.
Swimming in winter?
Winter swimming enthusiasts have existed around the world for many hundreds of years. Wolfgang von Goethe is said to have regularly had a hole punched into the ice just so that he could take a quick bath. That did, of course, not happen at Wolfgangsee lake, but even around here that “crazy” practice has been taking place for many generations. For me personally, as for many others, it began with me being a passionate lake visitor throughout the summer months and not wanting to miss out once the season ended in September. I kept pushing my final swimming day further and further out and kept jumping into the lake despite lower and lower temperatures. At one point, I simply realised that I only needed the necessary heart and will to do this throughout the year. I’ve now been at it for around 10 years and if I ever miss out on a day of throwing myself into the cold (!) currents to swim a couple of rounds, I start feeling really uneasy. A good day always begins a swim in the lake. That’s just part of my routine, like just like saying amen at church.
Of course, there is always the question whether this is a dangerous habit or not, whether one should expose his or her body to such temperatures. But I don’t really see any big risks here. Naturally, everyone should check with their doctor first. But if you get your body used patiently and routinely and do it without actually staying in the water for too long, then the positive aspects certainly outweigh the negative ones. I find it very important not to step into the lake alone and to always have someone around. This can be a swimming companion, but also someone staying at the shore to help out if something were to happen. As the blood can get quite cold after swimming, I always wrap myself up in a warm blanket after drying myself off with a towel, and then immediately go home to warm up. And that’s where a hot tea and a good breakfast await me as well. What you should definitely not do is any kind of athletic activity right after the cool down. The body just won’t play along. If you want to do sports, then do it before.
A fountain of youth for body, mind and soul
Next to the thrill, that I get to experience on a daily basis during and just before my swim, I also appreciate the various health benefits. As mentioned before, I haven’t been ill in more than 10 years and my daily swim has had many other positive effects on body and mind as well. I am fitter and more balanced than I have ever been before. That is something that my doctor also keeps confirming to me, who also believes in the practice’s health benefits. Due to the cold, there is a significant increase of leukocytes in the blood, so that the body is much more protected from infections. Besides that, the cold also works against any type of muscle soreness. Due to the higher testosterone count, there is also a general increase in performance. I would vouch for that without even thinking about it. Next to the health benefits, I can also attest to my skin being much firmer, my hands feeling warmer and I also start my days with much more energy and with more motivation. I also sleep much better at night when I am already dreaming of my next swim.
To be completely honest, I could not imagine what would happen if I were to throw my morning routine overboard again. Why don’t you give a try? I’m sure it’s going to work like a fountain of youth for you as well. We are, of course, always available for you if you should have any questions. Please just get in touch when you see us swimming. But, if possible, not right after the swim. That’s when we first have to dry off and wrap ourselves in a warm blanket…