Norway isn’t as cold as you think it is. Despite high latitudes and proximity to the Arctic Circle, the Gulf Stream current warms things up a bit. But this is of little consolation when you’re in a bikini about to dive into a fjord. In February.

Our fjord-swimming plan was developed in a warm kitchen while enjoying a dessert of waffles, brown cheese and beer. “It’s pretty good idea,” said Christian. “Wear wool socks and a wool hat. Maybe you won’t get frostbite.” We made a drunken pact and miraculously stuck to it.

A few days later ten of us ventured out to Lade (in northern Trondheim) and ran down the hill to the edge of the fjord. Figuring that we needed to get warm first, we started doing jumping jacks, screaming, and running around in circles. When I say “we,” I mean we females. The menfolk rolled there eyes, stripped off their sweatshirts and waded right in.

The actual swimming was a little anti-climatic. Still screaming we ran in, completed our pre-mandated three underwater strokes, and ran out. I don’t think we received any of the supposed cold water swimming benefits espoused by Tim Moss. It was all over in twenty seconds. After a quick change of socks we jumped on a bus and headed to Pirbadet.   

Pirbadet is Norway’s largest indoor water park, featuring several lap pools, saunas, a lazy river, a wave pool, climbing rocks, very high scary diving boards and a waterslide. Located on the waterfront, the glassed in water park offers a penguins-eye view of the Trondheim fjord and the tiny island of Munkholmen. From the confines of the heated pool, you feel as if you can swim right out into the ocean. Pirbadet also hosts movies and performances within the water park – just in case you want to authenticate your movie experience. There’s nothing like watching Jaws while swimming. The saunas and slides warmed us right up and within the hour we were ready to head back outside, having decided that our three-stroke minimum was too wimpy. Next time there would be a twenty stroke minimum. And no wool socks.   

If you go:

Pirbadet (Havnegata 12, 7010 Trondheim – right downtown on the waterfront) is open until seven on the weekends and nine on weekdays. A complicated pricing system is in place, and how much you pay depends on your age, membership status, ownership of a punch card, etc. Students get substantial discounts. If you are a non-student there for a one-time visit the cost is kr145 ($27) for a weekend visit or kr125 ($23) on weekdays. Swimming on any beach is Lade is free and pleasantly un-crowded in the winter time. It’s definitely the more economical option.