On Monday 28th November 2011, a rare day off work, I got an invite via Facebook friends to join them with a group of Naturists at a swimming meeting they had at Levenshulme baths in Manchester– I decided to be brave or barmey enough to go and it was very good. The friends who invited me didn’t make it along, but I met lots of lovely new friends.
The invite said ‘clothing optional’ but it was obvious no one was going to go into the water fully dressed or in swimwear. In the days leading up to the event I found myself wondering if I’d have the nerve to do it or if I’d chicken out. Somehow, I knew I would go ahead with it.
My fears were two-fold. Firstly, I am hardly a bronzed Adonis or a Michelangelo’s David; more of a bloated seventeen stone Bacchus figure. Secondly, I was worried that I might find myself leering and staring at everyone else.
Arriving at the baths early, I met other bathers who were very friendly and good-humoured. The staff seemed keen to time our hour-long visit to the exact hour, including time to get changed both before and after bathing.
It was a lovely Edwardian pool building with two pools and old fashioned changing rooms. Signs still segregate male and female bathers, though we had no such gender separation among the 21 attendees, though the girls were quite outnumbered on this occasion by male swimmers.
My nerves seemed to clear up quickly, and by the time I started undressing I was quite relaxed. Getting ready for a swim is quite easy without any swimwear to get into, my last swim had been at a Victoria Baths underwater opera when clothing and a wet suit had been necessary.
A few swimmers beat me to the water on this occasion, and I left the changing room without feeling self-conscious or embarrassed. I plunged into the water and did several lengths, feeling the exile ration of the water and occasionally worrying I might collide with another swimmer in some embarrassing way.
We chatted and swam around as if on a perfectly ordinary trip to the swimming baths/ our collective nudity was virtually irrelevant. It was easy to simply forget that you were naked.
Someone produced a ball and a few of us threw it to one another before the lifeguard, the only dressed figure in sight, told us that our time was up.
Dressed again, we retired to the local Blue bell pub to chat and drink – a chance for my lovely new friends to ask me who I was, etc.
I‘ve told a few friends what I did. It’s been fun to watch a few jaws drop and eyebrows rise. I’ll certainly be happy to go swimming and explore other nude adventures too, time and chance permitting. A huge thank you to the Naturists who helped me find and feel a whole new liberation and freedom, and to feel good about just being me.
The event inspired the following poem, exploring, in some exaggeration, some of my pre-swim fears and anxieties and how the people there changed my perception of myself and helped me feel as much a part of their lovely World as themselves.
ADVENTURES IN NATURISM.
I got invited to a nudist swim
Despite my lack of body beautiful.
Thinking a nice long swim could help me slim
Though everyone there would get an eyeful
Of me in all my gory, and they’d laugh
At the big beached whale floating in the pool
Making public display of private bath.
Would I be a self-conscious blushing fool?
Scared to stare perverted Peeping Tom style?
Afraid of freaking the other nudists
As welcome in the water as a Nile
Crocodile, preying that the chlorine mists
And blinds me to the other bathers’ charms
Avoiding boobs, and balls forcing strong arms
To push me deep under, held down to drown.
I’m completely out of place in the nude;
Going to a funeral as a clown
Wouldn’t seem half as skewed, lewd, crude or rude
As my Fig-Leaf free Adam skinny-dip,
But nudists have a better aesthetic
Where beauty and Beast can swim in the nip;
No one calls Quasimodo pathetic
While ogling Esmerelda with breast-stroke
Smut where all bare flesh is equal when wet.
Even this fat self-conscious shy old bloke,
Takes the plunge knowing there’s hope for him yet.
Copyright. Arthur Chappell
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