The diver

Morning Swim with the stranger


Teemu Heljo

Alarm woke me up at 5:30 am. Winter had come early and it was below zero already in October. I had checked the forecast the night before and it looked good for my morning mission. Plus celsius water and minus air temperature was the perfect combination for morning haze and that’s what I was looking for. I packed my camera and drove to lake Kaukajärvi (the same place I had spent my childhood). The lake was perfect. It was really cold and the lake was calm and beautiful with some haze on top of it.


I started taking photos on the pier and suddenly heard footsteps behind me. An old man with a wetsuit on walked past me and said ”Good morning!” with a very excited smile on his face. He introduced himself as Timo Vikman. He lived near the lake and said that he usually swims there every morning. Although this might have been the last morning before the lake froze entirely. I was freezing in my longjohns and this 68-year old guy was going for a swim.


The man asked if I could send him a couple of photos afterwards. He said he was very keen on photography and actually had a photo exhibition in the bottom of the lake. I wasn’t sure if I heard him right but he promised to show me some photos later on via email. He really had floating photos anchored to a depth of ten meters. It was all quiet. Just me and the old man putting on his flippers. You could tell he wasn’t doing the routine the first time.


He sat at the end of the pier and started to prepare himself for the swim. He told me that the day before he swan three kilometers and was wondering if he could do five today. The length wasn’t the problem though. Even if he'd swim fast the ice cold water freezed his arms and legs to a point where he could barely feel them anymore.


I couldn’t help thinking of all the talk how our young generation is spoiled and how we couldn't handle the nature anymore.


"It was nice to meet you and have a nice day!" he said and jumped to the freezing water.


I stood on the pier and watched him swim to the horizon. I was super happy that I had woken up early in the morning and met the guy.

He then dissapeared to the haze and I never saw him again.