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I came across a web forum today talking about how guys used to have to swim nude during gym class, at the Y and when on a swim team.  

I was a little shocked because most of the old images you find of swim teams display swimmers partially clothed.  I guess this was just for the camera’s eye — and yours.  When I was in gym class and on the swim team — we wore bathing suits.  I’m still a 20-something though.  Apparently many men over the age of 40 have a completely different story to tell. 

Along with hundreds of others (around 700 posts so far) — Philip recalled his historical experiences with swimming:

“I grew up always swimming naked at school, at the Y, and on the swim team. This wasn’t a choice, so we didn’t consider it right or wrong. Adults made choices for us all the time. When to go to school, what kind of shoes to wear to church, how to behave at the grocery store. We were accustomed to rules already being in place, and we adapted to them, as kids do everywhere. So nudity in gym class and at the YMCA was an accepted part of a pre-existing system. And as an accepted part of this system, we considered it normal, not sexual. It helped that the gym teachers were also nude. Generally, before class got underway, the teacher would be wrapped in a towel, but once class started, he would hang it over a chair and get in the pool nude with the rest of us. No one thought anything about this. It was completely accepted that swimming was done nude, so we would have thought it strange if he hadn’t swum nude as well. I don’t know when things changed, or why. That happened after I graduated from high school. Nudity among boys in environments such as these – public or private – was never something to be feared or ashamed of. I should add that, because it was pre-accepted, we didn’t have to go through any sort of adaption or acceptance phases. We were free to enjoy it, without guilt or embarrassment. In 11th grade, mine was the last gym class of the day. We often stayed after for another half hour or so, if the swim team wasn’t practicing, and played in the pool naked. I feel bad for kids today who are so ashamed of themselves that something as pleasant and innocent as this is necessarily avoided. We’ve lost a lot.”

My — how things have changed.  The forum has been going for over a year now and has over 700 posts.  Check it out here if you want more of an interesting perspective on how things used to be.

Finally, I found this swim team photo from years ago.  Can you imagine what would happen if something like this was taken in modern day times?

11 Comments

  1. i like image for nude man this classic and fantastic but is men biutifully

  2. I swam nude for my freshman year. No gym at all, all academics soph. year, and for jr and sr. years we had suits. I really liked nude swimming.
    It was freeing and liberating, just as the california hippie nudists were saying. I was a tall, dorky, immature
    ginger frosh w no manly hair yet, but the older kids left the freshmen alone. One kid who always mouthed off and talked crap got himself wet-towelled, but that was it. Overall, it was great fun. I wish I could have swam nude all year thru all four years.

  3. We had to swim nude in Jr.High in Clarence, NY in the 70’s. It totally sucked. None of us liked it except the 2 gay guys in our gym class that spent the entire pool time half or fully aroused. If I had a kid and they were forced to swim nude, I would sue the living shit out of the school system. If we couldn’t swim nude with the girls, we shouldn’t have been forced to swim nude with the guys. The worst of it was playing water polo with some guys wang rubbing against the back of your neck. Talk about degrading. Practicing lifeasving techniques wasn’t much better if you are familiar with victim towing techniques. We were told to do it because they saved money on bathing suit laundering. What a crock of shit. They were some of the most disturbing memories of my life. If we swam with the chicks, they WOULD have been the best memories of my life !

  4. I wish times hadn’t changed.

    Bring back the good-ol-days!

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  5. I used to go skinny dipping as often as possible. It was really enjoyable and very freeing. The shy guys kept their penis covered by their hands whenever they were out of the water and I was one of those guys for the first few times. It was so liberating when I finally realized that we were all different and yet basically the same. People who have never tried it, really should. Besides being incredibly comfortable, it’s easy on the laundry. :-)

  6. I also grew up swimming nude in junior high school in Dearborn Michigan. It had always been the tradition in all of the pub;ic and private high schools in Michigan for ever and ever. We did not have a YMCA so I do not know about the history except by reading.
    No swim suits were allowed on the boy’s teams and boy’s swim classes. I also swam on the swim team. I have always been looking for a nude swim team to join since leaving high school. But this was the late 1970’s and by 1980 nude swimming seemed to have suddenly vanished across
    America. I often wondered why. I am still looking for a nude (men’s) swim team Hit me up if someone knows of one.

  7. I tried to post on another forum but threads get lost or dropped.
    My school had a school and we swam nude. It was a catholic high school.
    Some of my cousins who went to public schools (my father converted for my mother) would not even believe that there was a such thing as required nude swimming. I didn’t mind it at all. In fact, with all of the talk of bullying nowadays, my recollection was that bullies are no longer bullies when they are naked. My school was all-male and swimmers on the team swam in suits and practiced in suits! If anything, I wish I could go back in time once in a while. It was very freeing and therapeutic to swim nude without fear of arrest. As an adult I have gone to nude beaches occassionally, but I just can’t get into the whole naturist scene. Kids of a certain age will run around naked without any modesty. So when I was in HS I got to do the same thing without being yelled at and told to get some clothes on. And it was free.

  8. When I was in Junior High school and the beginning of High school we swam in the buff. We just did it because we were told to. I think it is a good thing it is more about exploring your sexuality I think than anything else. Unless you had the kid who was a little ahead of the rest of us in the confidence department who talked about sex before anyone else.
    This was sort of a right of passage for being a male at least in our world because it was cloistered from the girls.
    It would be the first and maybe the last time as a male where there would be this sort of experience, Some men later might belong to a mens clubs but this would be it for most. I think it is a great leveler. Even though there might have been some unspoken competition about body development Physique and genital size I think most boys had the opportunity to see all different shapes and sizes yet still having the same construction. the porn industry has really distorted what the average guy is working with. I think guys today are more intimidated about there bodies and general physical appearance. I go into a gym today and the older guys are comfortable about being naked. They know there are homosexuals around them. They ignore it because a glance
    or even a stare doesn’t bother them because it does not effect them in a personal or physical way. The younger guys seem to be hung up. It is very similar to having a neighbor right next door and never talking to them or seeing them.
    Sadly ,like even being on the internet, it is one more thing that distances ourselves from each other. Things are becoming insular and at the same time distorted the reality factor is missing. Group socialization seems to be around alcohol and there is less of a sense of propriety or manners. There also seems to be a lack of awareness of people around one another when in public. These seem to be very strange and not very pragmatic times?!

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One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Gender Equality Kills Nude Swimming « SANDBLOG on 09 Aug 2008 at 10:34 pm

    […] ymca Revisiting my ongoing study of nudity in America… as well as my recent post on “Swimming Nude Was the Norm 30 Years Ago” […]

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