A Dip in the Ice Feels Rather Nice
A polar bear in the Arctic. Source: NASA (CC BY 2.0)

A Dip in the Ice Feels Rather Nice

An Interview About Cold Water Swimming
Maria Hawranek
time 11 minutes

There’s winter swimming, and then there’s winter swimming. The Wim Hof Method isn’t just about taking a dip in cold water. It’s a practice of embodiment, a way of exercising awareness. Andrzej Hrycaj, a cold water swimming instructor specializing in the Wim Hof Method, explains what we can gain from taking an ice cold dip.

Maria Hawranek: How did you end up in cold water?

Andrzej Hrycaj: I used to live inside the bubble created by our civilization: overheated rooms, a comfortable life. But comfort can also cause suffering. I was going through a mid-life crisis when I read in one of Orhan Pamuk’s novels that people become lone wolves once they reach middle age. His words terrified me. Wim Hof was my way of finding something of my own in life, even though at first I was very sceptical. I had come across his method many times, but I kept on thinking, no, that’s not my thing. Finally, I decided I had to meet him. I have the impression that nowadays, everyone seems to know everything, and our smartphones are full of people who pose as authority figures. So three years ago I took a trip to the Netherlands to meet the man who claims he isn’t part of the consumerist world. After reading What Doesn’t Kill Us by Scott Carney, an investigative journalist who set out to expose Wim as a false guru, but finally became his fan, I wanted to see for myself if there was an honest man behind the method.

Was there?

The workshops were great: we entered the cold water together, a group of people from all over the world. Wim is fantastic on stage, he speaks brilliantly and cracks jokes. But I wasn’t entirely convinced after the cold bath itself. The breakthrough came later, wh


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A Guide to Ice Swimming
Ewa Pawlik

As inhabitants of a country on the Baltic Sea, we are fortunate that ice swimming (morsowanie, derived from the Polish word mors, meaning ‘walrus’) is possible pretty much all year round. Anyone who has swum in the Baltic, even in the height of summer, will certainly know what I am talking about.

Swimming in ice-cold water, however, brings a range of health benefits: less frequent upper-respiratory tract infections, improved blood circulation, better blood supply to the skin, faster metabolism, and regulation of the endocrine system (which is responsible for managing the body’s hormones). Ice swimming slims and rejuvenates. It also causes the production of hormones responsible for feelings of contentment and euphoria.

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