After years of youth, Ira Uusoksa was swimming for more than ten years – until she rediscovered the feeling of freedom in open water swimming. In July, he decided to swim more than 35 kilometers from Mänttä-Vilppula’s Kolho to Keuruu.
Is on a hot July afternoon in the village of Kolho in Mänttä-Vilppula on the shores of Keurusselä.
The thermometer shows almost 30 degrees, and the water temperature in Keurusselä is only a few degrees cooler.
Helsinki Ira Uusoksa, 33, rubs white petrolatum on his legs in the shade of trees. He also brushes Vaseline on his arms, face, neck and shoulders.
The purpose of Vaseline is to keep the sun fat under it in the skin so that Uusoksa does not burn in the scorching sun on the curl during a day-long swimming trip.
Uusoksa intends to swim from Kolho through Keurusselä to Keuruu continuously. The distance is as much as 35.5 kilometers.
“The weather is ideal for such a swim, the water is warm and there is no surf,” Uusoksa recalls thinking before leaving.
Let’s go Ira Uusoksan domestic waters; he is from Keuruu. In the same waters he learned to swim in the fifth summer of his childhood.
Even better, Uusoks is familiar with the tiles of the Keuruu swimming pool, which he considered to be 13 years old.
After that, the AaltoAlvari swimming pool in Jyväskylä became familiar after the family moved to the city. Uusoksa has been competing since he was a child.
“For me, water has always been an element where I enjoy myself,” says Uusoksa.
In his youth, Uusoksa spent all his free time in the swimming pool. The result was born: at the age of 17, in 2004, he won the Finnish youth championship in the 800-meter freestyle.
“It was the only championship. By the way, I was always third or fourth in every race. I trained a lot, but in hindsight it feels like my head wasn’t fully involved then. ”
When Uusoksa was 19, he decided that was enough.
“While I enjoyed swimming, it felt like life had a lot more to offer me than swimming.”
“Watching the tiles started to get bored again and when the corona epidemic closed the swimming pools.”
After that, Uusoksa did not swim for years. He set out to look for other things and lived for several years in Spain and Thailand for a while.
The swimsuit remained on the nail for a long time. Until she returned to Finland, started a family and had a daughter in 2016.
Everyday life with a family of children made Uusoks miss his own time at times – and he found himself finding it in the pool after more than ten years of the “dry season”.
“Every time I went swimming, a happy person got out of the pool, just like when I got young when I was swimming seriously. But now it was different. All worries remained in the pool, ”says Uusoksa.
The competition also began to fascinate again. He started attending Masters.
“Everything was so in the backbone that swimming became an excellent hobby again. Of course, by swimming I also stayed physically fit. ”
Then came open water swimming.
“It brought a new dimension to the hobby. Watching the tiles started to get bored again and when the corona epidemic closed the swimming pools, I really found open water swimming, ”says Uusoksa.
He describes open water swimming as completely different compared to swimming in a hall.
“There you can see all the rocks, plants, fish. Water temperatures vary, surfing brings a challenge. We have great nature and clean waters. ”
New branch started the trip on the afternoon of July 14 at 2.30 pm from Pushinniemi in Kolho.
Finland’s 40th largest lake, Keurusselkä, was almost calm when Uusoksa scooped the first bets.
The motorboat and Uusoksa’s male friend on board Russel Wilfred as well as a mentor Tuomas Kaario closely followed Uusoksa’s glide along the lake surface.
Kaario is the most famous Finnish open water swimmer and well experienced. He is the only person who has swam 60 kilometers across the Gulf of Finland from Porkkalanniemi to Tallinn’s Rohuneeme.
Kaario has also swam across the Strait of Gibraltar and is also one of a few thousand people in the world to have swum more than 21 miles, or 34 kilometers, across the English Channel.
Crossing the English Channel by swimming is one of the most legendary open-water swimming trips, and was first made by a British Matthew Webb in 1875.
Tuomas Kaario swam across the English Channel in 2008. He has mentored Ira Uusoks in his long swimming performances.
“I still have a long way to go to understand even part of what Tuomas knows and knows about open water swimming,” Uusoksa says.
Before crossing Keurusselä, Uusoksa had swim a year in the summer for a 23-kilometer run in the sea.
This summer, the longest distance before Keurusselä swimming was 18 kilometers. At its best in five days, Uusoka has had about 37 kilometers of swimming.
In addition to physical performance, Uusoksa is interested in the mental side of open water swimming. If the head is not in good condition, long performances in difficult conditions will not be done.
“In open water swimming, I am fascinated by being with my own emotional states and fear states. Where the swimming trip comes in front is the wall you have to go over to reach your goal, ”says Uusoksa.
“I want to challenge myself and find new sides in myself. But I still want to learn more and get to swim abroad in various open water swimming competitions. ”
In long-distance swimming, it is important to find economical swimming technology. This way the body does not get tired and saves energy, and less refueling is needed.
The pace stays good with less power output, making it easier to keep the technology intact.
“Except for one setback, I smiled all the way.”
Keurusselän at the crossing the initial journey went smoothly. When the distance was about 13 miles behind, adversity began.
The engine of the service boat broke down. The swimmer pedaled in place in the water, and the boat and its crew floated on the back of the lake for three quarters, wondering what to do.
Fortunately, Uusoksa had decided to go for his marathon in his home waters, as help, ie relatives, could be found nearby.
Tuomas Kaario set off rowing a service boat ashore, and Uusoksa continued swimming.
Uuselsa’s male friend Russel Wilfred remained in his kayak to monitor and maintain.
“I had to swim just crying in my throat because I knew that if the motorboat couldn’t be fixed, Russell wouldn’t have been able to service me by kayak for the next 22 miles. We didn’t get enough energy in the kayak, ”Uusoksa said.
He feared that swimming should be interrupted, even though the strength and desire to reach the goal was enough.
Joy was at its peak when Tuomas Kaario soon rode in a motorboat. Uusoksa’s relatives waiting on the shore had helped repair the boat.
“With the exception of this one setback, I smiled all the way.”
Bathing was a pleasure. Pulling one after the other Uusoksa seemed to grab the invisible handles under the water and pulled himself towards his goal.
“The sunset at Keurusselkä, then after that it became dim and then again the sunrise and the magnificent fog in the middle of the lake were wonderful experiences. While swimming, he saw the biodiversity of the whole of Finland, ”Uusoksa describes.
He thinks open water swimming is movement in nature at its best. There are clean waters and you can swim almost anywhere.
There are also no big waves, sea currents, jellyfish or other dangers lurking in Finland.
“In Finland, I would like to swim in as many national parks as possible.”
“Hands and feet were wrinkled after time spent in the water.”
When The waters of Finland’s lakes are cooler, a wet suit is a great tool to bring warmth.
At the same time, it gives the swimmer the certainty of being on the water, as the wetsuit material, neoprene, floats.
“You still can’t go swimming alone. My swimming performance would not have been possible without the great team that helped me prepare for the performance as well as the actual performance. “
After more than 13 hours in the water, Ira Uusoksa achieved her goal. He swam 35.5 kilometers from Kolhol in Keuruu to Kurkiniemi.
“Hands and feet were wrinkled after time spent in the water. Of course, the hands also got tired, and that affected the swimming technique. But luckily the fatigue and pain seemed to be just in the muscles, ”Uusoksa repeated.
A year ago, in a 23-kilometer swim in Uusoks, both shoulders became inflamed. Now he was left with a great feeling.
“I had been dreaming about this for so long. I reached my goal, and I have to say that I was also hungry to make new challenging open water pools, ”says Uusoksa.
Uksoksa had excellent conditions for crossing Keurusselä.
“The water was ideally warm to reach the goal. It would have been a different thing if the water temperature had been 18 degrees. ”
Ira Uusoksa swimming Keurusselä did not have an official open water swimming.
However, he did so according to international marathon swimming rules, i.e., did not wear a wet suit, smart watch, or other aids such as fins.
According to the rules, the swimmer only wears a bathing suit, swimming goggles, swimming cap and earplugs.
According to the rules, the swimmer is also not allowed to touch the boat during the performance and no one is allowed to touch the swimmer.