Nude and loving it
What's it like to get naked with hundreds of strangers? Jared Levy shares his impressions after taking part in The Edge's world record skinny dip on Sunday.
I'm not an exhibitionist. I'm just as scared of showing my naked body in public as most people.
But, when I saw an advertisement to participate in a world record setting attempt at the largest skinny-dipping, I couldn't help myself.
I’m a 25-year-old US citizen on a working holiday visa in Hamilton; this is exactly the kind of thing I should be doing.
So, last month I registered to take the free bus from Hamilton for the event at Harrison’s Cut beach in Papamoa on Sunday.
The history of nude swimming, as it's referenced in Wikipedia, begins in the UK, pre-19 century. Then, "there was no law against nude swimming, with each town being free to make its own laws."
Now, with a ruling from the High Court in Tauranga sanctioning the event, it seems that we are returned to those earlier laws. But, really, isn't the history of nude swimming longer and less known?
Weren't we skinny-dipping from the very beginning?
I thought about this after boarding the bus with twelve other soon-to-be nudes. We departed at noon, in spite of the chilly weather, streaked gray sky, and gusty winds. The two organizers from The Edge looked disappointed in the poor showing, but, with a laugh, they wished us best of luck in the world record attempt.
Two hours later my spirits were buoyed as the bus arrived near the beach. The parking lot was packed and people walked in from all directions. Our group from the bus got in line to register.
A few teens in front of me talked nervously. “Is this legal?” one of them asked. “I don’t want to do it, because of my man boobs,” another joked.
But like me, they waited until registered, with a unique number penned on hand. I was 205.
I then walked to the beach where everyone appeared to congregate within a fenced area. A group near the back was already nude and painting themselves.
“I’m a gorgeous b**** and f*** alls if you don’t think I am,” one yelled.
It was still very cold, but I took off my shirt to prepare for my eventual nudity.
After some waiting around, we were split into groups based on the number written on our hand. At that point, all the clothes began to come off. I stripped naked and got into line with 200-250.
It was amazing to experience that once nude, my focus on others seemed to dissipate. All my awareness turned inward. It didn’t even feel that cold anymore.
But, once they counted us, we sprinted down to the shore and I felt the immediate shock of the cold water. I splashed my head under. I jumped up and down with excitement. I finally looked around me and everyone was doing the same.
“299” said the voice from behind a megaphone. Some people misheard and thought they said 399. They bemoaned that the group of spectators around the beach should have joined in.
But it was 299 and that was OK with me.
As I walked back to the bus, a man in front of me said, “I did it for confidence in myself.”
I couldn’t agree more.