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Date Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 09:02: pm
I experienced mandatory nude swimming in high school. This was a Chicago high school, Lane Tech, a large all boys high school of 5000 kids. It was 1970 and I was a 14-year-old freshman. Illinois high schools at that time had a requirement to swim to be eligible for graduation.
Others on this thread have commented on this practice, "it was no big deal", "just something you got used to", etc. This was not my experience. I found it humiliating and degrading and hated every second of it.
I suppose for those that had bodies that were average+ in all respects, it *was* no big deal. For those not so lucky, body image can be just as sensitive a thing for boys at this age as girls and to be totally exposed to your peers - for them to know how fat or skinny you are, or how hairy or undeveloped, or how small or different your penis is - this is not a fun situation by any stretch of the imagination.
The swimming period started in the locker room, where everyone had to strip naked. Than a mass group shower, with often coldish water. Next one of the more humiliating parts: standing in line to wait your turn to be inspected as to whether your shower was good enough. A couple seniors from the swimming team would be the inspectors. You would step into a plastic container of some type of chemical that would kill bacteria on your feet, and stand naked before them for inspection. They would feel your hair, different parts of your body, and pronounce you "clean" or "not clean" (in which case you'd be forced to return to the shower and repeat). Fortunately no "12 o'clock" inspection, so I guess it could've been worse.
After passing inspection, we would proceed to the pool area and have to immediately get in the pool. The whole pool environment was quite cool, and the water itself seemed barely heated. This was winter in Chicago, so you were getting no help from the outside temperature. You are naked, wet from the shower, have cold air all around you, and then have to jump into fairly cold water. We were shivering, with goosebumps, constantly. It would take quite a while before you could adapt to the water temperature and start to feel adjusted.
Just after you finally have adapted to the water temperature and were starting to get your body temperature under control, The swim coach would blow his whistle, forcing you to get out of the pool, back into the cold air, go up into the stands, find your number on the bench and sit down on it for attendance. Once again, although even worse now, you are totally wet, exposed to the cold air while naked - freezing and shivering. After attendance was taken and coach explained what had to be done this period (10 minutes), it was back in the water for the remainder of the time, and again the cold water adjustment. Finally, showers at the end, changing back into clothes, and you were done - until next week.
All in all, the nude swimming requirement perfectly illustrated the school's attitude towards their students: you will have the same rights and respect as a herd of cattle. Forcing you to take this class (even if you could demonstrate how to swim), forcing you to be naked, the inspection, the careless attitude toward student comfort with the freezing in/out rituals - it all seemed structured to inflict the maximum damage on a student's self-esteem.
Finally, I must say that all the swim coaches were male; we never had any experiences with female teachers viewing, wandering through, etc. So again, I suppose it could've been worse.
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