Winter swim in Lake Sevan / Photo: Courtesy of Ani Seize
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Last year, on one February day, me and some of my friends decided to travel to the Lake Sevan to take a refreshing swim in its waters. A brilliant idea, considering the fact that the lake has an elevation of 1900 meters above sea level, and many don’t dare to swim in the lake even in the summer, because the water is very cold.
Sometimes, if the winter is particularly cold, the entire lake freezes, just like it happened this year. The entire lake was covered with such a thick layer of ice that people were easily walking on its surface, taking photographs and enjoying the unusual scene. And far in the horizon, the frozen waves were creating an illusion of movement on Sevan.
Lake Sevan froze entirely in February 2017 / Photo: Arty Om
We didn’t manage to swim in the lake this winter, unfortunately. When we traveled to Sevan in January, the weather was windy, and the strong waves were disturbing the serenity of the lake. And then the entire lake froze, as if decided to take a winter nap.
But when we traveled to Lake Sevan last year, only the area near the shores was frozen. We looked for an open shore to be able to enter the lake safely, and after finding one such spot, we began our preparations. To me, swimming in ice-cold water is a great pleasure, it restarts your organism and wakes you up, and during the passive winters it becomes a vital necessity.
Lake Sevan in winter / Photo: Vahe Vardumyan
Before going into the water, we started a fire on the shore to warm ourselves after the swim and to also prepare hot tea, because it is very important to stay warm after dipping into cold water. The weather was warm and sunny, and the lake was peacefully shining in the sunrays. When the fire was started, we put on our swimming suits and entered the lake. The very first step into the cold water was a completely new feeling for the body. We had to walk a little further to find a deeper spot. We dipped ourselves into the water for several times, and then went back to the fire on the shore – even though we didn’t feel cold inside the lake, it was better not to stay too long in the water.
A refreshing winter swim in Sevan lake / Photo: Courtesy of Ani Seize
Coming out of the cold lake, our bodies began to feel very hot, as if we were standing next to a strong fire. After dressing up, we roasted some mushrooms, and sat around the fire to enjoy the serene atmosphere of the Lake Sevan.
To me, Sevan is like a beautiful, but capricious woman! Even though the lake is 25,000 years old, still it is very young and fresh. Blue is the main color of the lake, but sometimes its waters are green, or almost black, and even white – as if the color changes with Lake Sevan’s mood. One moment it’s sunny and smiling, the next moment it’s stormy with waves roaring loudly.
The weather was warm that time, and we didn’t feel cold sitting next to the fire and drinking herbal tea. After swimming in cold water, our bodies felt refreshed and relaxed, and we could just lay down and take a good sleep under the mesmerizing whisper of the waves.
Sunset at Lake Sevan / Photo: Ani Seize
My favorite shore of Sevan is near the village of Artanish, it’s one of the most beautiful and clean shores of the lake. Not many people come here, that’s why it’s still somewhat wild, and tranquil, and the shore is trimmed by a forest on one side, and the waters of the lake on the other. Sitting on the beach, you can enjoy the views of the mountains, which turn red at sunset, and listen to the songs of the gulls flying above you in the skies.
Fishermen on Lake Sevan / Photo: Ani Seize
As we were contemplating the nature surrounding us, two fishermen approached us on their boat, and we exchanged a few words with them. “You weren’t swimming in the lake, were you? My friend told me he saw you swimming, but I don’t think you’re that crazy to swim now. It’s so cold!” said one of them. “Well, actually, we did swim! That’s why we traveled to Lake Sevan today,” we said and laughed. They looked at us as if we were aliens from another planet.
The sun was setting down when we decided to pack our backpacks and leave. Our wet clothes that we left on the snow were frozen. I had to warm up my shoes by the fire to be able to wear them! We then cleaned the area, expressed our sincere gratitude to the Lake Sevan and hit the road back to Yerevan.