Swimming

I just have to say, swimming while being this pregnant is amazing! I actually feel like a pretty and sleek seal instead of a big ol’ clumsy walrus (when it’s on land).

I love to swim. But before a couple of weeks ago, I hadn’t really swam since before I got pregnant with Paxlet. That’s over 3 years ago! I may have gone a time or two with my MIL, but never on my own in my hometown. Since I’ve started swimming again, I’ve been reminded of the differences between swimming in the US compared to Finland*.

I remember the pool water being so much warmer in the US. In fact, as I stepped into the pool in my hometown 10ish years ago, I remember thinking it was like a lukewarm bath. Not pleasant at all. While the water is a bit colder here in Finland, we have sauna to go to to warm up.

Sauna! My goodness, the US needs sauna in their swimming halls. It is wonderful to sit in the warm/hot sauna after swimming. Each gender has their own sauna in their changing/showering areas. You can relax, stretch a bit and well, just enjoy sauna. It is also a place to bond with friends. Sauna is not about sex. Sure, some people do have sex in sauna (IN? Hmm, a bit too hot for my tastes) or during their sauna, but that is not the reason for going to sauna. As I said, sauna is a way to relax, get clean and hang out. (Sauna has also been used during labor and delivery for hundreds (thousands?) of years here in Finland.)

Side story: A couple of weeks ago as I was relaxing in sauna, the kids who had been having swim lessons flowed into sauna. The girls, about 9-10 years old, were talking about boys. Then the talk switched to “how crying at school is not cool”. One girl mentioned something about how she hadn’t cried since she was in first grade (7 year olds). Another said she had fallen off her bike, it was real bad, and she didn’t cry at all. Another asked her in disbelief “you didn’t cry at all?” The first replied “nope, and I hurt for a month afterward too.” The girls were quite proud of how strong they were. Finnish “sisu” at a young age. It was fun to listen to the girls interact, quite comfortable in their birthday suits.

Nakedness is not an issue, especially in sauna. Swimsuits are not allowed in sauna, says the sign on the sauna door and as a general rule. (There have been times I have been in mixed company and ages, such as a Taekwondo event, where we did keep swimsuits on.) As a kid when we had swim lessons in school, I remember most everyone hiding in their towels as we changed to and from our swimsuits. Or if a towel wasn’t used, we were very quick to get changed. The few that were very body conscious would change in the 2-3 curtained off rooms. I can’t imagine that girls are anymore comfortable these days in the US. It’s a shame. I am sure some of the girls there have some body image concerns, but all the girls were just sitting there, naked as can be, chatting away.

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This is a picture of the swimming hall (uimahalli) I have used the most in Finland. It is 30 meters (about 100 feet) underground. It also happens to be the emergency shelter for the people in the surrounding buildings, should there ever be a need for it. It was and is a bit strange to take an elevator down to the swimming hall, but once there, it is like any other pool, except no windows.

*I can only compare the swimming pools I’ve ever been to. As such, the “US” pool experience is mostly from my hometown plus a couple of other places. I’ve been to more Finnish swimming pools, however my experiences in them is almost all the same.
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