Siljan is a fair-sized lake—Sweden’s 6th largest (137 sq. miles), and is located at nearly 61 degrees north latitude (400 miles below the Arctic Circle), at an elevation of 528 feet above sea level. At its deepest, Siljan is 390 feet deep; it is 25 miles long, and is between 1 and 7 miles in width.
Equidistant from Oslo, the capital of Norway, and Stockholm, Sweden’s capital, it is about a third of the way up from the southern tip of Sweden, and is located in the Swedish län (county) of Dalarna.
I’ve studied Lake Siljan much over the last few months—it has an eccentric form, which I have come to think of as a chimera, shaped like the melding of cat and fish.
On its northwestern shore is the town of Mora, with a population of about 11,000 people. On the northeastern shore is the town of Rättvik, which has a similar sized population. At the extreme south end of the lake, on a thin bay called Österviken, is the town of Leksand, with a population of about 6,000 people.
I have determined to attempt a swim across Lake Siljan this summer (2013). I’ll start at the village of Hjortnäs, which is on the southern end of the lake, part way into narrow Österviken (“East Bay”). This starting point will enable me to pass in a relatively straight line, through Storsiljan (“Big Siljan”, e.g. the main basin), in a northwesterly direction. Once through Storsiljan, I’ll pass the large island Sollerön which lies to the west. Edging gradually in a more northerly direction will point me towards the north end of the lake, where Österdalälven River enters. Then just before entering the river, a sharp turn to the west will put me into Saxviken—the bay where Mora is located. My Swedish co-conspirators have settled upon a sandy beach near Mora, called Tingsnäsbadet, where the swim will end. This seems like an obvious route to me, and is 20 miles (32 kilometers) in length.
So, to put it in terms of the chimera, I’ll enter the cat at the upper part of its right front leg, passing through breast and neck. Travelling through its body I will exit the cat at the middle of its spine, entering the fish called gädda (northern pike), which has latched itself onto the back of the cat. Swimming into its mouth, I’ll skewer the fish, passing through the entire length of its body, and finally reaching its tail’s tip. At the end of the tail of the fish, I’ll enter a small, somewhat circular button.
(original artwork by Jesse Van Mouwerik, see more)
At the north end of this button, I intend to extricate myself from this watery chimera, and walk onto a sandy beach called Tingsnäsbadet on the northwestern shore of Lake Siljan.