581 lakes, hidden in the deepest of forests
One man, crazy enough to swim in them all
Welcome to my blog chronicling my quest for taking a dip in all 581 lakes, tarns and ponds in Ludvika Municipality in south central Sweden. This project has been my main pastime since 2015, and as of 2022, I’ve covered some 150 of the lakes.
All lakes receive a blog post where I detail the swim and the circumstances that led up to it. Unfortunately, all those blog posts are in Swedish. But here is a quick, boiled-down English version of what this is all about, what it can look like and some tips if you by any chance would like to try something similar.
Ludvika Municipality is 1,647 sq km (636 sq miles) of mostly forests, mires and lakes at around 60° North, which is slightly more southward than Anchorage, Alaska. But wait, are there really as many as 581 lakes in that small area? Well, that does depend on what you count as a lake. My definition is all waters written in blue on one specific edition of the official map. By this definition, one of the smallest to be on my list is Paddflyet (Toad pond), measuring a whopping 50 x 15 meters (165 x 50 feet). The largest is Lake Väsman, 39 sq km (15 sq mi) and the 83rd largest lake in Sweden.
At a typical trip, I hike about 10 km and swim in about four lakes – more during a summer trip, fewer in the off-season. Scattered across the forest are small huts open to the public for free, many of them maintained by local sport fishing clubs. For trips where I spend the night in the forest, these are a nice alternative to sleeping in a tent.
Roaming the Swedish forests in a hunt for small lakes to dive into is made doable thanks to the Swedish Right of Public Access, Allemansrätten. In short, it stipulates that you can go wherever you want in the forests and mountains as long as you behave.
Sweden is a Northern country with short summers. The temperature of the lakes typically peaks at 20-25 °C (68-77 °F) during summer. From December through April the lakes are likely frozen, but if you find a spot where a river och creek empties in to the lake you might find open water in winter as well.
But why? Why do I do this? And why should you do the equivalent to it in your part of the world? Because it’s a great way to get yourself out in nature, a place where at least I gather energy and always come back from richer in experience. Having a project makes it much more likely that these trips actually materialize and don’t stall at the That Would Be Nice stadium.
Thank you for reading this far. If you have any questions about outdoor life in Sweden or this project in particular, feel free to comment below, or DM me on Instagram where you find me as 581_sjoar.
Last but not least I’d like to direct you to Youtube and the ten minute film about 581 sjöar, filmed by local photographer Johannes Graaf. While much of the video is me talking (in Swedish) there are some nice scenery shots. Not to mention a segment of me playing the guitar on a rock in a lake. In October. Thank you for visiting.