Naked Swimming In History

I thought I would add a number of documented stories on nude swimming going back in history. What a lot of people don't know is that in the 1700s and before, swimming was considered unhealthy, and most people never did (during the Middle Ages, people averaged about 2 baths a year!)

Indeed, most sailors on those ancient frigates never knew how to swim, so if your ship was sunk, so were you. Then, in the 18th century, "doctors" (I put in quotes because there weren't medical schools back then), determined that salt water in the oceans were healthy. This in turn created the desire to venture out into the surf, but there was no such things as a bathing suit. What people did was the natural thing - they ******** naked and went out. And during the 1700s, this would include *both* men and women. However, with the advent of the Victorian Era, all women began to don "bathing costumes", which were dangerous as they were designed to cover everything from ankles to the neck in heavy canvas-like material, ergo, a lot of women drowned. Men however, refused to wear anything at all, so during the 1800s, it was not uncommon for most men to swim in the ocean buck naked, until about 1870 when laws preventing nude male swimming at most resorts were enacted (btw, interestingly...nude male swimming at beaches in mixed-gender setting was not nearly as common in the US as it was in the UK and a lot of Europe.

In many places, boys up to adolescence would swim with and play with girls their age at public beaches, all the while the boys were stark naked, although girls were always clothed, particularly during the modest decades of the Victorian Era.

A huge archive inclusive of actual history book passages, news articles, old photographs and vintage film archives that evidence can be found here, a site I created:
Bradvsfw Bradvsfw
41-45, M
3 Responses Aug 3, 2012

As noted by others, full nudity was common back in Ancient Roman and Greek times. It is undisputed that all male athletes competed in the Greek Olympics stark naked, although female athletes wore coverings. In Ancient Greece, the gymnasium was not only a place where athletes trained for public events, but also a place for socializing and engaging in intellectual discussions, and when in the gymnasiums, all male athletes were always completely naked. In fact, the word "gymnasium" comes from the Ancient Greek term gymn├│s meaning "naked". Athletes competed nude, a practice said to encourage aesthetic appreciation of the male body and a tribute to the gods. Women, who were allowed to use these same gymnasiums for their own athletic training, were not nude, and my archives show artistic renderings of athletic training in these facilities where such women are side--by-side naked men as they train. <br />
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What I find interesting is that during these times was the focus on male nudity as being a positive thing and promoted whereas female nudity was not. There are all kinds of hypothesis about their culture and society as to why this was, but I have never heard one that makes sense.

Prior to the asceticism of monotheistic domination, most people went naked whenever they felt like it in warm weather. Throughout the Roman Empire for almost a thousand years they build communal baths in every community where men and women would spend time lounging about naked together every day. And sexual behavior was frequently not criticized or hidden. Monotheists have always preached against bodies and bodily pleasures including bathing and other pleasures.

I think it should be the same today, boys swim naked until their late teens, would stop them being so insecure about their bodies.