Men’s swimwear for summer 2014?

COEDSWIMTEAM2

Try to find what seems “off” about this picture and the two below.

Ah, you’ve got it. The men are naked, and the women are in swimsuits.

I don’t know where they were taken or when or even if they’re legitimate, although they look legitimate. I’m inclined to think they might be from Germany or an Eastern European or Scandinavian country and were probably taken in the forties or fifties. I think of Germany because I saw a beach on the Greek Island Naxos chock-a-block with naked German families on holiday. Picture it, as Sophia Portrillo on the Golden Girls would say, two pale, sun-frightened Americans, one in lounging pants, long-sleeved pullover, and hat, the only people with a stitch of clothes on, surrounded by hundreds of au naturel frolickers. I remember that one strapping young man and woman drew a broad-jump line in the sand and took turns running toward it as fast as they could, everything flopping, before they took flight. A person didn’t want to stare, but a person probably did. So I say to myself, if your family vacations naked on the beach together, maybe back home it doesn’t feel strange to see your brother or son competing naked on a swim team. But why did the women cover up at home?

Am I reading too much into these pictures or do they suggest a society that found it unthinkable for women to think of men as sex objects, possibly unthinkable for “decent” women to have sexual feelings at all?

COEDSWIMTEAM1COEDSWIMTEAM3notashamedtobe

At least one of the pictures below, of a diver or divers, are clearly in the U.S. Doing a little internet research, I found these explanations on a Yahoo Answers site, https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20131003021653AAqBAGa:

“Boys swam naked because it was considered normal and healthy (in a single-gender environment) and the fear or embarrassment of being naked around one’s own gender was just unthinkable. It was quicker, easier, and already common (this was done at YMCAs as well as local swimming holes). The rules were made by the previous generations that had gone through the military, or had grown up where privacy was much more of a luxury than it is today. “Watching” wasn’t a part of this at all; it’s just the way men behaved.

We boys swam naked all through junior (middle) and senior high, as well as at the Y. I was on the swim team for years, and we always practiced naked. We “saved” our suits for the meets, when there might be moms and sisters watching, but the rest of the time, nudity was the norm, especially at the Y where it wasn’t just restricted to the pool.”

NUDEDIVER3notashamed NUDEDIVERnotashamed

NAKEDDIVERSnotashamed

NUDEDIVER2notashamed

More from Yahoo Answers, re why boys swam naked at the YMCA:

“First, some of them couldn’t afford polyester swimwear and just wearing cotton shorts wreaked havoc on the filter systems of the time. Second, it promoted a classless environment. Naked, you can’t tell a banker from a laborer. And last, guys were more used to being naked back then communally than they are now. Most of them served in the military where privacy wasn’t a priority, and people in general weren’t as squeamish about being human as they are now.”

One more:

“Sometime in the 1960’s corresponding with the expansion of female rights, the YMCA was forced to accept female employees, lifeguards and instructors.

For whatever reason, it was immediately decided that all female’s had to wear suits, but the same was not immediately true for the boys.

There was quite a bit of grey area from state to state, and it was quite common for boys to swim naked under the watch of a female lifeguard, or for a group of boys to have a female teacher.”

But none of this exactly explains the pictures above, all seven from the site http://notashamedtobemen.tumblr.com/, which focusses on naked men, most “at rest.” No source is given for the diver photos, and the co-ed swim team photos are credited to an adult site, http://clothedmalenudefemale.tumblr.com/, but I couldn’t find the photos on it for further sourcing, though I don’t doubt that they are or were there.

Male nudity in public has a downside: a guy is mentally freer if his favorite part isn’t announcing what he’s thinking.

But I don’t need to tell you, do I, that as a spectator I think all sports should be played naked?

 

 

This entry was posted in Historic photographs, nude swimming and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Men’s swimwear for summer 2014?

  1. wilvanbleautenbil says:

    “But I don’t need to tell you, do I, that as a spectator I think all sports should be played naked?”

    If it wasn’t for the weather, we should all LIVE naked, clothes are silly and uncomfortable and they are absolutely no safeguard to sexual harassment and abuse. Our habit to clothe ourselves is actually the cause, it creating secretiveness in regard to sex and nudity, resulting in unnatural shame, frustration, exhibitionism, peeping toms, upskirt photo’s, porn, etc. We would have a lot less of these if nudity wasn’t such a taboo. But that’s my view.

    I too did a blog post on this YMCA phenomenon once. But recently someone told me that some of of the photographs I used are faked. In particular where you see nude boys posing with girls in swimsuits. I studied these photographs extensively, and there are indeed some whom I now doubt. Your first and third picture for instance. However no 2, though it is a bit fuzzy, looks so incredibly authentic!
    But the legend that boys and men swam naked because the YMCA didn’t want the cotton or wool swimwear fabric to clog up the filters is nonsense, if you ask me. This rule obviously didn’t apply to the bathing suits of the girls…

    My post is titled ‘Staring at your naked son’ (earns me truckloads of spam, that title!) under the category NudeHistory. You’ll at least find a lot of YMCA photos there.
    Look in particular at the photo of the naked water polo team and their trainer. Sitting in the background on the tribune, you see what are obviously someone’s family members. Among them, LOL, Aunt Prudence… but there’s something not quite right with the nether regions of the polo players. Of the men in the front line the pubic hair model looks duplicated.

  2. Thanks for the additional information.

  3. Jock O says:

    One of the pictures you have is of the Natatorium at my high school in Minnesota. It’s the one with the diver in a dive with his backside to the camera. It’s difficult for people, especially younger people, to believe that we swam and dove naked during competitions with the general public watching. The opposing team members also swam naked. Nobody seemed to care back then. This was in the 1960s. My older brother also attended the same school as did my dad in the late 1930s and early 1940s. They were also swimmers and also swam naked.
    I don’t know who the person diving in the picture is but I may have known him.

    • Thanks so much for enlightening us. How fascinating.

    • Jock O says:

      Mr.McCann,
      Upon receiving your email I looked at the picture of the Natatorium with the diver again and realized there is what appears to be a man and a woman sitting together on a bench watching the diver. They are located near the lower right corner of the picture. There also appears to be another naked man standing to the side and in front of them.

  4. Laurence says:

    I learned to swim at the YMCA in Ohio in 1953 at the age of 10. Everyone was naked, since suits were not allowed, and sanitary regulations were quite strict. You did not even enter the pool without first taking a nude shower. The old Ys were a great place to exercise in a clean, all-male environment. Indeed they were a lot cleaner and better-managed than most modern health clubs.

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