When I asked Neil, the swimming teacher whom I work with, what he thought of skinny-dipping, his quick response was, “Why are you thinking about doing it?” To which I replied, with a look of horror on my face, “God no, I’ve had three kids!” He found this hilarious and roared with laughter; he also wanted to know why I asked. You see, Neil is also a full time policeman and coupled with being a part time swimming teacher, I thought it was an interesting mix to what happened in July.
At the end of last month, two young men were caught skinny dipping off the coast of Belfast Lough, County Down in Northern Ireland and were threatened with a criminal record and being placed on the sex offenders register. Because of this, there has been an outcry from naturist campaigners who have deemed it “absolutely monstrous” that the case has been handed to the public prosecutor’s office by the police. Admittedly, I do feel sorry for them. It was a very hot summer’s day, they were in desperate need to cool down, but obviously didn’t have any swim wear with them and being young adults, probably didn’t think about the potential repercussions.
THE LAW AND SKINNY-DIPPING
Their big mistake was to go skinny-dipping in a public place, where families with young children were also present. If it had been in more of a secluded area, away from the public eye, the police would have been more likely to laugh it off and let the dippers get on with it. Even though, according to the spokesman for British Naturism, Andrew Welch, “The law is very clear that being naked in public is not a crime. It has to be proved by a complainant that the nude person intended to cause somebody alarm or distress.” Unfortunately, the U.K. has a reputation for being conservative and prudish and we are certainly not comfortable with showing our naked bodies to our own children at home, let alone to complete strangers in public. Could the underlying cause be that we see our nude bodies as sexual objects rather than how Mother Nature intended? After all, we are the only species on Earth who wear clothes and get upset when we see mothers breastfeeding in public. Children are not born with these ideas and seeing naked bodies and being naked is perfectly natural to them. The idea that being naked is somehow wrong is learnt as children integrate more into society and pickup on the thoughts and beliefs of the people closest to them.
Skinny-dipping can be liberating (so I’ve been told) and if done discreetly should not in any way be classed as a criminal act. If you want to do it in a controlled environment, without the risk of getting caught, visit the British Naturism website at www.bn.org.uk/ activities/places_database.php/_/swims/ or if you prefer a less populated environment, do your research before you go and make sure you swim safely. Oh and just a few little things to remember – taking photos of your swimming partners is a definite no-no (forget posting on Facebook or any other social media) and so is ogling too. It is probably best to strip quickly down to your underwear and then remove these items once you’ve entered the water with a celebratory whoop and fling back items of clothing to the shore. Please don’t think it’s funny to steal other peoples’ clotheswhilst they are bathing, certain parts of the body tend to shrivel when cold and that is not a pleasant sight!