By Jessica Hatcher. Updated: GMT, 13 November As I take my place on the starting block, a hush sweeps around the spectators at the side of the swimming pool. A race is about to begin. The Union Jack is emblazoned on my swimming cap and to my left - poised and at the ready - are two lithe and toned Germans. I am competing for Great Britain at an international swimming competition and it should be a great honour. But I can't shake the feeling that there is something very, very wrong. For, apart from a silly stretchy hat, I am completely and utterly stark naked.
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Nude swimming , or skinny dipping , is the practice of bathing naked , whether in natural bodies of water, in swimming pools , or in hot tubs. The term skinny-dip was first recorded in English in Thomas Guidott set up a medical practice in the English town of Bath in
Everyone has had some variation of the same nightmare at some point in their lives. You know the one I mean: it starts with you walking down the street, or doing a presentation at work, or even back at school, blissfully untroubled by the state of your clothing. And, for most of us, the thought of parading down a poolside in the buff is enough to bring on a stress rash. So when I, a nude novice, was asked to attend weekly two-hour naturist swimming session at Energybase Gym in Bloomsbury, London all in the name of journalism, of course , I found myself flooded with dread. Colin explained that he and other volunteers have been running the session for years, offering a place in London where naturists can enjoy being completely free in a pool with as little fuss as possible. The vibe, he assured me, would be relaxed, welcoming and about community. Despite all of my misgivings, it was. In reality the session is, yes, about enjoying the feeling of swimming naked which totally beats a stretchy swimming cossie creeping up your bum but it is also a meet-up for like-minded naturists.