Why naked swimming is one of the best ways to feel part of nature and better about your body. Let’s go skinny dipping!
The secret joys of skinny dipping
Have you ever swum completely naked – no swimsuit, no wetsuit, just you and the water? I reckon you aren’t truly liberated till you’ve experienced the joy of freeing your bits from the confines of a costume and splashing about wild and free in the nuddy pants.
And no, skinny dipping isn’t sexual in any way. I’d argue that it’s totally the opposite, celebrating the power and the beauty of the human body and experiencing the simple joy that comes from being immersed in water with nothing in between you and the force of nature that is the moving ocean, or a placid lake, or a lazily flowing river.
You also can’t get a better lesson in what a normal, healthy human body looks like than swapping the pages of fashion magazines for the sight of naked bodies of all ages, especially when you live in buttoned-up Britain and in an age when the media is plastered with unattainable beauty ideals.
In Scandinavia swimming naked is part of the ancient ritual of the sauna. Sauna is a key part of family life in Nordic countries, and saunas are often taken naked. I once stayed with a Finnish family at their rural cabin by a lake, where they had a traditional wooden sauna fired up to a sweltering heat by a log fire. The whole family piled in, and when we got too hot we all ran naked down the little wooden jetty outside and jumped into the freezing water of the lake – the final part of this old purifying process.
How to go skinny dipping
I often get asked if skinny-dipping is legal. The answer is that, in the UK, you are totally within your rights to swim naked, but it’s worth avoiding upsetting bystanders by opting to swim in quiet places. Daniel Start wrote a great piece in the Guardian on what to know before you shed your clothes. My advice? Find an empty bit of beach or lake, and if other people are present, walk far enough away that it isn’t hugely obvious you’re naked. In Europe you’ll find swimming nude positively encouraged on certain beaches, especially in the Mediterranean – ask around to find out which part of the coast is reserved for nudism and then just join the locals. Or if you feel a bit shy, get into the water with a costume on, then take it off and tie it to your wrist – I’ve done this lots of times with friends and no-one can even really tell you’re naked – it’s secret skinny dipping!
Be brave and try going bare-bottomed – up the skinny dip revolution!
Wondering where to swim? Try my favourite wild swimming spots in Britain