On a hot summers day, jumping into a river for a swim is a great idea… so how about taking part in the next of the Swedish Classics, Vansbrosimningen? Sweden’s biggest open water swimming race attracts approximately 16,000 participants over a weekend, with a variety of distances and races for all ages and abilities (this year 8th-10th July).
There is even a dedicated start group for those taking public transport to the event (see Vansbrosimningen for more details).
Currently the water temperature is a refreshing 18°C (according to the events website), with wetsuits recommended. As with the other classics, there is a warm up led by staff from a local gym.
Imagine each start group of about 30 people, doing an aerobic warmup, in wetsuits! It looks very silly, but is very effective. So much so that it’s a relief to get in the water!
You head downstream in the Vanån, with boats lining the route so you can’t get lost and to help anyone who’s struggling. The current is noticeable, though mostly when you start to cross it to turn up into a smaller river, the Västerdalälven. Here the current is more obvious as it’s against you, thankfully it seems to come and go as you head towards the finish.
Don’t worry – it’s safe
The boys marking the outside of the swimming lane and the floating decking by the bank ensure safety on this stretch. As with the boats, personnel line the decking to keep an eye out for struggling swimmers and are ready to pull anyone with problems out. If like me you’re not a strong swimmer, it’s reassuring to be able to hold onto the decking for a quick pause.
At the finish you’re greeted by warm tents with people handing out warm drinks and helping to unzip wetsuits: massively appreciated when the arms are tired!
The temporary showers are basic and remind me of Girl Guide camp, but the sense of camaraderie and achievement is great.
It would be wrong to say that this is the easiest of the Classics, it is still a significant effort. Especially when you consider that one insurance company has recently highlighted that many Swedes can’t swim 200 m confidently.
However, compared to Vasaloppet and Vätternrundan, the atmosphere is less competitive and more friendly. So check it out the, maybe it will get you inspired to take the splash next year!
Written by Rona Strawbridge
Rona is a reformed couch potato who enjoys training in the gym, cycling, cross-country skiing and occasionally punishes herself with running. Whilst not particularly competitive, she enjoys a challenge to help her maintain her philosophy of exercising enough so she can eat whatever she likes. Her achievements to date include completing Vätternrundan and the halvklassiker.