The Bottom Line

12 Jan

I am reading Fergus Fricke’s excellent book, Getting to the Bottom of Balmain’s Dunnies. But, this isn’t an entry about my fascination with defacating history. It’s less about what to do with what comes out than whether we should let it hang out. The merits of newd versus wetsuit swimming are oft debated in ocean swims culcha (including a bit here) but is skinny dipping the (to use a meaningless, abused, advertising and marketing buzzword) new paradigm in ocean swimming?

In some ways, it makes sense. I mean, professional swimmers shave down. Shaving is believed to make the swimmer more aerodynamic. But I’ve also read that swimmers actually shave to remove not only body hair, but also the layer of dead skin cells on the surface of the epidermis. Apparently, after the removal of the dead skin cells, the skin becomes more sensitive and the swimmer then has a heightened “water sense”. If you wanted full on water sense, wouldn’t it be better to be naked?

And then there’s the sea lice proposition. Ever noticed how much more the gals seem to get eaten alive compared to the buoys? As Gill said after surveying my enormous collection of closeuppapules and papulovesicles after a night of insomnia last Saturday (which incidentally and rather pathetically stopped me swimming at Newport), it’s because my togs are a highly effective trawling net. Could newd swimming be the way to make my ocean swim go without an itch?

Maybe it’s performance enhancing? See this awesome short movie.

Whatever, it seems to be the talk of the town at the moment.

You see, Nigel Marsh, author of Fat, Forty and Fired (cathartic read for me in 2011 Nigel as a fat, fired, forty four year old), former Ad man (I bet he’s pushed a few paradigms in his time) who now proselytises work life balance is behind (or is that the wrong choice of vocabulary?) what he claims is the world’s first nude ocean swim. In Sydney. In February. ‘The Sydney Skinny’.

Numerous people have asked if I am making it my Can Too goal swim this year. At Can Too, we are taught to bear all (blueys, big surf, argy bargy in the peloton) not to bare all.

Furthermore, (like Nigel) I was born a pom. Ergo, presumably, a prude (see Between the lines).

Oddly though, a quick internet search reveals a plethora of UK naturist swimming opportunities. Not only are there naturist clubs having regular swim nights at public pools but some public pools actually bolstering their patronage with nudie nights such as the three sessions per year held at Waterworld in Stoke or the once-a-year visit to Splashdown in Poole.

There’s even an international newd swim meet, at which the Germans excel and the Poms refrain from mentioning the phwoar – see brilliant article by Jessica Hatcher.

Yes, it’s a bit Fawlty Towers but even Fawlty Towers has gone newd in an effort to revive faltering revenue.

And the Taffs hosted the latest record attempt for the world skinny dipping record.

Not so much comes up in Sydney where you would think the climate would be more suited to it which seems a bit strange considering the Opera House was almost flattened in the stampede of 5,000 volunteers at 4am one morning in 2010 wanting to pose in Spencer Tunick’s nude art installation. Bushwalking in the buff is on offer but swimming opportunities limited although naturally [or naturistically – sic?], let’s not forget Lady Bay, Obelisk and Cobblers beaches.


Although browsing some of the very interesting FAQ at did make me worry that there was far more preparation involved than for a ‘customary’ trip to the beach. Shave down took on a whole new meaning prompted by the question are Brazilians acceptable (no, they weren’t talking about which nationalities were most welcome at Cobblers).

Elsewhere, Bondi Rescue Rookie Blake says skinny dipping is ‘not alright, anytime’ as he reins in a couple of streakers.

Australians have long had a reputation as larrikins. But mention the word “nudist” and it seems most of us are more than a little prudish…

The media reports that Marsh has already been in contact with industry types such as Gruen stars Todd Sampson and Russel Howcroft to ask if they will participate. They are yet to confirm.

There is much debate (and fulsome answers at about spectators and cameras. Organisers can’t really win – most people seem conservative but one upset exhibitionist said – ‘What, no one on the beach to gawk? Well that’s it – I not doing it, then!’

So no entry to our talented culchural ambassadors like the Glistener and Sevadevi Glover I assume. And I am guessing that there will be no progress entries online or results showing name and sex position.

Will I do it? I doubt it, although it could be the only way to find out if ad industry man Moose really is hung like a horse.

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