'It’s the fourth time we’ve run our GBSD campaign, which looks beyond the confines of the usual Naturist scene in a bid to encourage the general public to discover the joys of nude swimming (and socialising!) and feel the health and well-being benefits that come with the decision not to wear clothes,’ writes Jon Attaway.
Making a splash with the GREAT BRITISH SKINNY DIP 2019 this year we chose to make our big GBSD splash in July, having previously run the nationwide programme of events in September. There were two key reasons for this. One was that we hoped we’d manage to coincide with the warmest of the summer weather, and the month certainly had its moments on that front. An equally important consideration was for those first-time dippers we’re always aiming to attract with GBSD. After all, if you’ve just discovered the delights of social nudity for the first time, wouldn’t it be nice to then have the rest of the summer to make the most of your newfound enthusiasm?
While the timing changed, one thing that didn’t was the sheer variety of events we had going on around the country – both in terms of location and the experiences on offer. Dippers could brave everything from a chilly wild swim in the Lake District’s Beacon Tarn, via beaches, rivers, outdoor lidos, Naturist clubs, and campsites, to the more comfortable waters of their local swimming pool.
Encouragingly, we had some new venues and volunteers signing up to run their own skinny dips as part of GBSD. A particularly exciting example was Arundel Lido, which went ahead and organised it's first skinny dip having come across the campaign. Whereas most of the campaign’s skinny dips were instigated by BN members or held at existing Naturist sites, this was a case of a venue seizing the opportunity to organise something itself. Happily,
their adventurous spirit was handsomely rewarded, with around 80 people jumping in on a warm summer evening. Not only did the attendees have a great time, but the lido raised £800 towards its regeneration projects and attracted publicity from local press and radio. It was considered such a success that Arundel is holding another skinny dip event in September. Hopefully we’ll be seeing many more such events at this wonderful venue in future!
Arundel wasn’t the only lido joining in the fun, either, with a busy session at Peterborough Lido attracting around 50 dippers including several first-timers and BN members. This was an event hosted by BN’s Eastern region who hired the venue - though the good people at the Lido didn’t hesitate to add it to their own programme of summer events and inspire their regulars to bin the bikini or trash the trunks!
The GBSD swim at Bramcote, Nottingham was a first for hosts South Yorkshire Naturists. They usually run a monthly spa night at the venue but with 45 swimmers they are planning to build on their success and offer more swim nights in the coming year. They had many comments along the lines of, ‘We didn’t know there were any events in this area,’ and, ‘I only live round the corner’. Another new venue was at Penketh pool, near Warrington, where TWO dips were hosted by BN - and successfully; more events have been announced.
A number of venues benefitted from local media interest, generated by press releases from British Naturism. And it helps after the event too - Wirralnats reported a larger than usual crowd at their Chester swim that followed a GBSD that had been featured by the media online and on radio. There were also regular bulletins and reminders sent to subscribers to the dedicated GBSD newsletter.
Another trend we’ve seen over the last few years is that of using a skinny dip as a fundraising event for various charities. For example, Diogenes Sun Club hosts an annual ‘Get Bare to Care’ open day, organised by local charity Rennie Grove who do much of the promotion, helping to raise funds for its local hospice in addition to welcoming new people to the joys of skinny dipping. Elsewhere, we were pleased to help support a dip at Bude in aid of MIND, the mental health charity. This took place in May, long before our own campaign and was timed to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week. But as BN member Charis Brundle reported, “Everyone was in great spirits and we met many new people with their own reasons for being there who were quite interested in us as BN members, and recognised the health and well-being aspects they were experiencing through participating in the event. The local council provided ‘The Hub’ for registration and hot drinks, and the lifeguards and St John's Ambulance donated their time. The event raised just shy of £4,500 in fees and pledges: so a good cause was well-supported, and a little bit more was also done to mainstream Naturism.” Organiser Ruth said, “The event was a phenomenal success, thank you! I think a good estimate would be 150 swimmers on the day!”
That’s why The Great British Skinny Dip is so important – it’s about sharing the simple physical joy of ditching soggy swimming costumes, and of feeling close to the elements. If you’re a long-term Naturist, it’s easy to forget the visceral thrill of discovering social nudity. With GBSD, we’re helping to share that feeling with more and more people each year.
With that in mind, it’s a shame that we didn’t have more established Naturist venues taking the opportunity to open their doors to a new audience – some of whom might end up becoming regulars, after all. Those clubs and swims that do invite the public in generally report a successful, positive experience. So if you haven’t before, why not consider taking part now?
While we could always do with more venues and events, there are a lot of successes to look back on for GBSD 2019. We had suggesting venues; we worked with a PR company to issue press releases that got some of our dips great media coverage.
The GBSD brand has captured the imagination of many venues and clubs who have continued to list their regular swims irrespective of when they take place. Could GBSD become an all-year-round initiative? As ever, we couldn’t have managed it without the generous offers of time and assistance from BN members too numerous to mention. That said, Ron O’Hare in the NW region is deserving of special praise, having personally organised or overseen 10 dips or so this year (reckon you can beat that next year Ron?!).
No matter how successful an initiative though, there’ll always be room to improve – and that’s why we’re now running the GBSD campaign again throughout the year. There’ll still be a focus in the summer, but we’ll be listing nude swims whenever they happen. Visit the website at greatbritishskinnydip.co.uk to find out how to list yours.