Top 5 Naked Skinny Dipping Facts

Script written by Q.V. Hough

Were bathing suits always required at the YMCA? Why do Aussies skinny dip in such great numbers? And what's up with all those nude swimming paintings? Here's one of our more unexpected Top 5 Facts topics: Skinny Dipping!

Special thanks to user Abby Peterson for suggesting this idea using our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Written by Q.V. Hough

Top 5 Facts About Skinny-Dipping

Bonus fact: John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States, was known to take a nude swim in the potomac river every morning at 5:00. Speaking of 5, welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Facts. In this installment, we’re taking a close look at the most interesting facts we could find about skinny-dipping.

#5: The Group Skinny-Dipping Record Was Set in 2015

I don’t want to alarm anyone, but the world record for group skinny-dipping has been rising at a fast– some might say– alarming rate. In 2011, 400 folks stripped down to smash the previous record of 250. The annual BW Summer Festival in Gisborne, New Zealand then broke that 2 years straight. 744 Kiwis ran naked into the surf on New Year’s Eve 2013. But I’ve heard a rumor that Australia and New Zealand have kind of a rivalry between them. It certainly seemed that way on March 8th 2015 when an event in Perth promoting positive body image had 790 Aussies break that skinny-dip record. Here’s the takeaway for me: the record number tripled in the space of five years. If my calculations are correct, and they usually aren’t, the record in 30 years will be over 546,000. That’d be one hell of a long, fleshy beach.

#4: Bathing Machines Enabled Skinny-Dippers

In the early eighteenth century, swimming in the west was generally done in the nude, especially for men. But that started to change and around mid-century, when the bathing machine was invented. Yes, this was a real-thing back then, as “beach day” actually entailed the rather involved process of carting out into the ocean for a quick dip. The structure was supposed to provide a private place to swim, either nude or in a swimsuit. Some effectively had canvas curtains that would extend to provide extra privacy. And some people even had bathrooms in their bathing machines. The prude-ification of the Victorian era in England saw a rise in the use of bathing machines, especially since in 1860 nude swimming was outlawed for men. They seem to have generally gone out of use by World War I.

#3: The Old Masters Loved Them Some Skinny-Dippers

Once upon a time, it was socially acceptable to paint skinny-dippers at the beach. And the so-called “Old Masters” excelled at such a craft. Since then, many artists have continued the tradition, as Thomas Eakins portrayed group skinny-dipping in his 1885 work “The Swimming Hole.” Even quintessential Americana artist Norman Rockwell got in on it. And thanks to the old masters and their skinny-dip-inspired proteges, we can now understand where our ancestors liked to skinny-dip and how. Of course, the nude portrait has been around for centuries, but the pastoral detail of skinny-dipping portraits beautifully demonstrates how art and society have evolved since more innocent times.

#2: The YMCA Once Required Skinny-Dipping

Back in the early days of the YMCA, young men and boys could skinny-dip with confidence. And hey – why not, as even Teddy Roosevelt was known to love a naked dip. But skinny-dipping wasn’t just encouraged at the YMCA, it was required. And so, in the early 50s, some YMCAs of Midwestern America enthusiastically promoted the idea. A 1954 article in Sheboygan, Wisconsin noted how 404 boys were “unhampered by bathing suits.” In fact, the American Public Health Association even had an actual mandate about nekkid swimming from 1926 to 1962. Part of that had to do with the fact that the woollen bathing suits of the early 20th century could be vectors for the spread of diseases like cholera and typhus. Who knows, skinny-dipping might have just saved lives!

#1: An Olympic Gold Medalist Was Arrested for "Nude Swimming"

Ethelda Bleibtrey contracted polio in 1917, started swimming to help her recover and shocked the world by winning Gold at the Summer Olympics in 1920. One year before that, she frightened the city of Manhattan with her supposed “nude swimming.” Ethelda removed her stockings during a swim, and for this audacious act, she was swiftly arrested. She may have technically been breaking the law, but the overall support for Ethelda ultimately put an end to the accepted practice of wearing stockings at the beach. And five years after the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, Ethelda was arrested once again for bathing at the Central Park reservoir, but not for skinny-dipping. On that day, she was actively supporting the push for more public swimming facilities.

So, what fact surprises you the most about skinny-dipping? And do you prefer to let everything hang out or are you more of bathing machine person? For more reserved top 10s and uninhibited Top 5s, be sure to subscribe to

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