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  #1  
Old 08-15-2006, 05:41 PM
Puzzler Puzzler is offline
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Why do professional swimmers shave their bodies?

At the Olympic games and other professional swimming contests one may see swimmers with shaved bodies. I heard a pro swimmer saying it has nothing to do with lowering friction. So why do they shave?
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  #2  
Old 08-15-2006, 05:57 PM
Edward The Head Edward The Head is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puzzler
At the Olympic games and other professional swimming contests one may see swimmers with shaved bodies. I heard a pro swimmer saying it has nothing to do with lowering friction. So why do they shave?
You've heard a swimmer say it's not for lower friction? That's a new one. I am a swimmer and the only times I've ever shaved I've done worse. From what I gather from other swimmers it is supposed to make you faster, no friction, and a better "feel" for the water, whatever that is.

I can see, maybe, .01 of a second for shaving, so for the Olympic swimmers then it might help, for everyone else I think it's all in the head. Though don't actually try and tell that to most swimmers, they always do a shave and taper and say the shave cuts 3-4 seconds off their time. They don't want to hear that maybe it's the taper that does it, nope just can't hear that.
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Old 08-15-2006, 05:59 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
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They'll do anything to shave a few milliseconds off their time.
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Old 08-15-2006, 06:05 PM
Alive At Both Ends Alive At Both Ends is offline
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I've heard that unofficial world records have been set by swimmers swimming naked.
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Old 08-15-2006, 06:12 PM
FatBaldGuy FatBaldGuy is offline
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Maybe it's just my ignorance, but is there really such a thing as a "professional swimmer"? The Olympics and every other swimming competition I have seen is conducted at the school or amateur level.

Then again, I admit I don't follow swimming as much as some other sports, but I'm not aware of any professional swimming organizations.
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  #6  
Old 08-15-2006, 06:16 PM
Puzzler Puzzler is offline
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I've heard it at an interview with a pro swimmer -- while passing by the radio set -- and it stuck.

He said something like "All pro swimmers shave before major contests. Most people think it's to lower friction, but that's not true. It's <something about dead skin cells removal>"

Please note it's not an actual quote.
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Old 08-15-2006, 07:13 PM
Edward The Head Edward The Head is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatBaldGuy
Maybe it's just my ignorance, but is there really such a thing as a "professional swimmer"? The Olympics and every other swimming competition I have seen is conducted at the school or amateur level.

Then again, I admit I don't follow swimming as much as some other sports, but I'm not aware of any professional swimming organizations.
Don't know what pro really means but Phelps can not swim in college because he's been paid. There's no pro tour, but there are people who do get paid to swim.

Quote:
"All pro swimmers shave before major contests. Most people think it's to lower friction, but that's not true. It's <something about dead skin cells removal>"
I think that would have to do with the feel of the water. I've never understood it myself as I feel the same shaved as I do unshaved.
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Old 08-15-2006, 07:16 PM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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I personally can't see body hair making much of a difference. Mark Spitz swam with no cap and a very 70s mustache. He said it kept the water out of his mouth when he came up to breathe. I bet that extremely few races have been decided on a scale that could possibly be attributed to body hair. What seems to be making a difference is this fake shark skin suit material, which is why you see even men in full length body suits.

I see here that Ian Thorpe has decided for the full suit, but left his beard. I guess he's not so concerned with that slowing him down. http://ian-thorpe.org/gallery/displa...at=2&pos=-1069
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  #9  
Old 08-15-2006, 07:20 PM
ltfire ltfire is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alive At Both Ends
I've heard that unofficial world records have been set by swimmers swimming naked.
I think a nude male swimmer might be held back by 'rudder drag'.
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  #10  
Old 08-15-2006, 08:13 PM
Edward The Head Edward The Head is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cardinal
What seems to be making a difference is this fake shark skin suit material, which is why you see even men in full length body suits.
I've found the suits to act as more of a compression suit then any thing. For most people they have extra skin, this can really move around, especially off the walls. The suits keep the skin from moving around.

I guess I'll find out soon how much hair really does change things as I've cut my long hair last week.
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  #11  
Old 08-15-2006, 09:38 PM
Lightray Lightray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puzzler
He said something like "All pro swimmers shave before major contests. Most people think it's to lower friction, but that's not true. It's <something about dead skin cells removal>"

Please note it's not an actual quote.
It's been many a year since I was a competitive swimmer, but we were told that shaving increased your skin's sensitivity -- not only removing the layer of dead skin cells that you scrape off with the hairs, but the fact that your skin is now sensitive having just been so scraped.

Much like my chin and neck is now sensitive, having just shaved.

Frankly, I think we usually shaved far enough ahead of the race that our skin would have recovered from the unfortunate scraping. However, it's certainly true that I was more aware of my denuded skin; it felt different, having no hair where there once was. Mind you, I never really had much leg hair to begin with...

Presumably, had I been able to translate this into "feeling" the water better over my scraped skin, I might have continued on swimming competitively. Alas, it just made wearing jeans really uncomfortable about a week later as my sparse leg hair regrew.

Also, google yielded up this page, which actually cites research studies on this, so there's obviously still some debate left in the topic.
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Old 08-15-2006, 10:09 PM
snailboy snailboy is offline
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So why would you need to have more sensitive skin anyway? I've done plenty of swimming (not competitively). I can tell the water is there with my hairy arms and I can't imagine what else you'd need to feel.
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  #13  
Old 08-15-2006, 10:27 PM
Cartooniverse Cartooniverse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alive At Both Ends
I've heard that unofficial world records have been set by swimmers swimming naked.
Assuming you are dead serious, I'd be surprised if women's swimming records have been set by women swimming naked. The most streamlined body making the least resistance using the same caloric output tends to win. Women have those boobies things. Untethered by Speedo fabric, I suspect that a given woman would not be as hydrodynamic as the same given woman who was clothed in her swimsuit.

Ergo, men swimming naked may set speed records. Women swimming naked might not.

Cartooniverse
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  #14  
Old 08-15-2006, 10:37 PM
robby robby is offline
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I swam competitively in high school. At the end of each season, we tapered for the last week or so, and shaved prior to the big meets (conference championship, sectionals, and state).

The tapering might have helped, but I think the shaving was just psychological.

If it's not purely psychological, at least it makes more sense for swimmers to shave than bicyclists, water having significantly more drag than air.

As I recall, I always cut myself with the razor on the outer ankle bones. When I hit the water, the wound always stung. This was actually good, because it reminded me to keep my freestyle kick going strong throughout the race.
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  #15  
Old 08-15-2006, 10:42 PM
BrassyPhrase BrassyPhrase is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puzzler
At the Olympic games and other professional swimming contests one may see swimmers with shaved bodies. I heard a pro swimmer saying it has nothing to do with lowering friction. So why do they shave?

Drag?

<rimshot>
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  #16  
Old 08-15-2006, 10:45 PM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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Hmm... This guy is not convinced about the shark skin suits: http://coachsci.sdsu.edu/swimming/bodysuit/knowsuit.htm

ScienceMag.org wants me to subscribe, I think, and will only tell me, "New swimsuits with tiny ridges modeled on sharkskin are all the rage. Experts are split, though, about whether the high-tech suits reduce drag."

This guy tried five different suits, four of them "sharkskin", and even though he tried the full one last when he was most tired, he swam the fastest in it. That's not a full study, just some guy giving his opinion. http://www.goswim.tv/articles_commen...=2765_0_16_0_C
===================

Oh, I finally found something, it seems:


Effect of swimming suit design on the energy demands of swimming.

Starling RD, Costill DL, Trappe TA, Jozsi AC, Trappe SW, Goodpaster BH.

Human Performance Laboratory, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306, USA.

Eight competitive male swimmers completed a standardized 365.8 m (400 yd) freestyle swimming trial at a fixed pace (approximately 90% of maximal effort) while wearing a torso swim suit (TOR) or a standard racing suit (STD). Oxygen uptake (VO2), blood lactate, heart rate (HR), and distance per stroke (DPS) measurements were obtained. In addition, a video-computer system was used to collect velocity data during a prone underwater glide following a maximal leg push-off from the side of the pool while wearing the TOR and STD suits. These data were used to calculate the total distance covered during the glides. VO2 (3.76 +/- 0.16 vs 3.92 +/- 0.18 l.min-1) and lactate (8.08 +/- 0.53 vs, 9.66 +/- 0.66 mM) were significantly (P < 0.05) lower during the TOR trial than the STD trial. HR was not different (P > 0.05) between the TOR (170.1 +/- 5.1 b.min-1) and STD (173.5 +/- 5.7 b.min-1) trials. DPS was significantly greater during the TOR (2.70 +/- 0.066 m.stroke-1) versus STD (2.58 +/- 0.054 m.stroke-1) trial. A significantly greater total distance was covered during the prone glide while wearing the TOR (2.05 +/- 0.067 m) compared to the STD (2.00 +/- 0.080 m) suit.

These findings demonstrate that a specially designed torso suit reduces the energy demand of swimming compared to a standard racing suit which may be due to a reduction in body drag.

You can get the full article at medline by accessing this reference:

PMID: 7564977 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] (I don't know what that means or how to access that "reference".)
===============
I have to throw in this one too:


Project Number: MCS013 Grade: 8

Title: Effect Of Swimsuit Material On Drag

Abstract: The purpose of my experiment is to find which swimsuit materials has the least amount of drag. Each swimsuit was cut into a 10cm by 10cm square, a pocket was added, and a penny was placed inside. The sample was dropped ten times through a three-meter cylinder filled with water, and the time was recorded. The Fastskin is the fastest, second was the Aquablade,third was the Reversible, and the slowest is the standard suit (control). Swimmers would want to wear the Fastskin swimsuit when racing so they would be fastest through the water then the swimmers wearing one of the other three suits.
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  #17  
Old 08-15-2006, 11:47 PM
MilTan MilTan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robby
If it's not purely psychological, at least it makes more sense for swimmers to shave than bicyclists, water having significantly more drag than air.
Bikers don't shave for drag reasons. They shave because treating the inevitable scrapes and wounds is easier if there isn't hair in the way.
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  #18  
Old 08-16-2006, 01:12 AM
Noel Prosequi Noel Prosequi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robby
The tapering might have helped, but I think the shaving was just psychological.
I "remember reading somewhere" (sorry, no cite) that the psych part was not just about self-motivation. It had a large component of psyching out the opposition. Just exactly when a swimmer shaves during a particular meet sends information about when he thinks the competition is getting serious. Thus, Ian Thorpe turning up with full beard, chest rug and dreadlocks in the early heats (not picking on him for this particularly, just using his famous name as an example) is kind of dispiriting. The suggestion is, you can't shave for every race, and you don't want to shave too soon (stubble factor) but too late and you've been eliminated. Even if shaving has no real effect on times whatever, it is fascinating that it can be used as a move in gamesmanship. IANN, NHIEB, a competetive swimmer, by the way.

Oh, and professional swimmers? they may not get paid piece rates per meet or per race, but Thorpe is a multimillionaire with no other saleable talent that justifies that level of wealth.
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Old 08-16-2006, 01:55 AM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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[QUOTE=Cartooniverse...Ergo, men swimming naked may set speed records. Women swimming naked might not.

Cartooniverse[/QUOTE]

It's worth mentioning that once-upon-a-time (until 30-40 yrs ago) men and boys usually swam nude if there were no females present. High school and collegiate swim teams would have practiced nude, but wore suits at matches where women would be present. So it wouldn't surprise me if many of the mens' records were set by nude swimmers.
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Old 08-16-2006, 02:27 AM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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I would love to hear a cite for HS swim teams swimming naked in 1966. My dad was out of college before that even, and he says he's never heard of it.

I just can't imagine it, for legal reasons, really. This wasn't the swimming hole in "The Great Brain."
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Old 08-16-2006, 07:11 AM
Stan Shmenge Stan Shmenge is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MilTan
Bikers don't shave for drag reasons. They shave because treating the inevitable scrapes and wounds is easier if there isn't hair in the way.
Nope. Drag is significant when riding at speed. It is like 80% of your energy, so yah, leg hair introduces turbulence into the laminar flow of air around the legs. Since the legs present verticaly across the airstream, they are a major contributor to the frontal area. Also shaving keeps the legs cool. Tried it, but since I was not cycling competitively decided it wasn't worth the hassle and irritation.
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Old 08-16-2006, 08:55 AM
Lightray Lightray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cartooniverse
Assuming you are dead serious, I'd be surprised if women's swimming records have been set by women swimming naked. The most streamlined body making the least resistance using the same caloric output tends to win. Women have those boobies things. Untethered by Speedo fabric, I suspect that a given woman would not be as hydrodynamic as the same given woman who was clothed in her swimsuit.
Competitive women swimmers tend to be a bit more hydrodynamic in that regard than other women, since they're literally swimming those off...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noel Prosequi
Oh, and professional swimmers? they may not get paid piece rates per meet or per race, but Thorpe is a multimillionaire with no other saleable talent that justifies that level of wealth.
Well, he makes pearl necklaces
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Old 08-16-2006, 11:03 AM
aerodave aerodave is offline
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Originally Posted by Happy Wanderer
Nope. Drag is significant when riding at speed. It is like 80% of your energy, so yah, leg hair introduces turbulence into the laminar flow of air around the legs.
You're presuming that turbulent flow is a bad thing in this case. But a human calf in a 25-mph crossflow has a Reynolds number very similar to that of a golf ball coming off a club.

Golf balls have dimples to reduce drag by increasing turbulence. Leg hair should help in a similar way, by promoting a turbulent boundary layer that fills in the wake. So if drag reduction were the only concern, hairy legs ought to be better.
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Old 08-16-2006, 11:07 AM
Noel Prosequi Noel Prosequi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lightray

Well, he makes pearl necklaces
'nuff said, really.
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  #25  
Old 08-16-2006, 11:23 AM
Telemark Telemark is offline
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I remember that at one Olympics some women did a late-night naked timed test to see if they were faster without their suits. They reported that they felt like they swam faster, but the times were universally slower. No cite (nor pictures), sorry.

We shaved right before the end of year meets, and I remember it feeling slightly different in the water. We thought it reduced drag somewhat but it also made your legs feel a bit tingly and helped reduce fatige. Or so we thought. I suspect a lot of it was ritual and physchology, both of which contribute to better times.
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  #26  
Old 08-16-2006, 12:23 PM
Cartooniverse Cartooniverse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lightray
Competitive women swimmers tend to be a bit more hydrodynamic in that regard than other women, since they're literally swimming those off...
[/URL]
A perusal of broadcasts from say, the last two summer Olympics roundly disputes this statement. One can assume that if a woman can make the Olympic team, she's just about as good as it gets in her country. Plenty of average sized gals, boob-wise and sometimes a larger-endowed gal as well.

I was madly in love with a gal who swam quite seriously in high school. No idea if she continued into college. She was very large up top. I never asked her if it was a drag.

I also would love some cites proving that 30-40 years ago men and boys swam naked when no women were present. God I feel old. I'm capable of disputing a 30 year old assertion by dint of having lived through that time. I'm 44. I swam at the local Y, at people's house parties, at the high school pool and in various ponds. I went swimming during Cub Scout trips.

Not once did I witness nude swimming. Ever. Methinks you are passing along an Urban Legend......
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Old 08-16-2006, 12:33 PM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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Suppose that somebody invented a coating, that when appliet to the skin, would reduce drag..such that a swimmer using this would have a subtantial advantage. Would this be legal to use?
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Old 08-16-2006, 12:49 PM
Cluricaun Cluricaun is offline
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Originally Posted by Cardinal
I would love to hear a cite for HS swim teams swimming naked in 1966. My dad was out of college before that even, and he says he's never heard of it.

I just can't imagine it, for legal reasons, really. This wasn't the swimming hole in "The Great Brain."
My stepdad, who attended both Steinmetz and Lane Tech here in Chicago in the 50's said that the boys swimming classes were done in the nude. He's also mentioned that he hated going to swim class.
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Old 08-16-2006, 01:41 PM
Edward The Head Edward The Head is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c
Suppose that somebody invented a coating, that when appliet to the skin, would reduce drag..such that a swimmer using this would have a subtantial advantage. Would this be legal to use?
I don't know for sure and FINA rules don't say anything about it that I have found. They do say:
Quote:
In swimming competitions the competitor must wear swimsuit in one or two pieces which shall not extend beyond the ankles, the wrists and the neck. No additional items, like arm bands or leg bands shall be regarded as parts of a swimsuit.
The swimwear (swimsuit, cap and goggles) of all competitors shall be in good moral taste and suitable for the individual sports disciplines and not to carry any symbol which may be considered offensive.
I do remember in high school someone had some sort of cream like that, tried it once, don't know that it helped at all though. I would say probably not legal though.
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Old 08-16-2006, 01:41 PM
Cartooniverse Cartooniverse is offline
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Ahhh. Chicago.

Why didn't you say so before ?



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Old 08-16-2006, 02:24 PM
Cluricaun Cluricaun is offline
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Originally Posted by Cartooniverse
Ahhh. Chicago.

Why didn't you say so before ?



I was busy viciously overfeeding there here ducks and geese so I can have some brutally tasty foie gras.
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  #32  
Old 08-16-2006, 02:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cardinal
I would love to hear a cite for HS swim teams swimming naked in 1966. My dad was out of college before that even, and he says he's never heard of it. I just can't imagine it, for legal reasons, really.
Not too many high schools have swimming pools, but this was a common practice at colleges and YMCAs. For instance, the Seattle YMCA had nude swimming from the 1890s to the 1970s. A handbook from the 1920s said, “The wearing of swimming suits or supporters will not be allowed except by permission from the director.”
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Old 08-16-2006, 03:02 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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Nude swimming in high school in the 1960s.

Nude swimming in high school in Chicago in the 1970s. Public schools in Duluth, Minnesota, also did it into the 1970s.

Swimming nude at the YMCA in Ohio in the 1960s.
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Old 08-16-2006, 04:12 PM
Cartooniverse Cartooniverse is offline
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Perhaps the next time you eagerly leap to the fore to prove me wrong, you might take the time I just took and read the cites you linked into SDMB.

The second link and third link are identical pages. The fact that you have titled them differently is irrelevant.

So, what we have here are two cites, not three. The first and second cites are anecdotal, not cites showing written policy by a YMCA or by a municipality or school district. The second cite is also so far beyond believable as to almost qualify as some sick flavor of pornography. Dozens of female classmates laughing and pointing at their 12 year old schoolmate who is stark naked- with a female swim instructor instructing an entire pool full of naked boys and young men ?

Please.

The third cite is identical to the second cite, and therefore is irrelevant.

So. I ask again. Cite ?

Cartooniverse
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Old 08-16-2006, 04:14 PM
Cartooniverse Cartooniverse is offline
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Holy moley. Well, that's interesting. I just went back to re-read the cites, and indeed they are three distinct cites. I do apologize for that portion of my last post, however the third cite is the one I had linked as the second- and basically, it's bad porn. Ok?

The second one is a sentence or two that imparts no hard facts.

The first one sounds real.
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Old 08-16-2006, 04:19 PM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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Old 08-16-2006, 04:34 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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Numerous other recollections of nude swimming in high school in 1950s-1970s.

Photo from Life magazine in 1950 of New Trier Township High School in the Chicago suburbs (rear nudity):

flickr.com/photos/dcwooten/64765758/in/set-971245/
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  #38  
Old 08-16-2006, 04:52 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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While men and boys often swam naked in all-male enviroments I've never hear any credible stories of female instructors/life guards and nude male swimmers, except for for very young boys. My own father learned to swim at a YMCA, but doesn't remember women ever being present except on family nights when the boys wore suits. Remember society has gotten really restrictive regarding male nudity since the 70s.
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Old 08-16-2006, 07:08 PM
Cartooniverse Cartooniverse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphaboi867
While men and boys often swam naked in all-male enviroments I've never hear any credible stories of female instructors/life guards and nude male swimmers, except for for very young boys. My own father learned to swim at a YMCA, but doesn't remember women ever being present except on family nights when the boys wore suits. Remember society has gotten really restrictive regarding male nudity since the 70s.

I readily agree, and might suggest that the idea of a young teenage girl stepping into a swimming pool and placing her palms under the buttocks of a naked 12 year old young man is not a credible cite.

The photo from Life? Assuming it is a real link, I can't argue with Life Magazine.
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Old 08-16-2006, 08:15 PM
robby robby is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c
Suppose that somebody invented a coating, that when appliet to the skin, would reduce drag..such that a swimmer using this would have a subtantial advantage. Would this be legal to use?
When I was in high school 20 or so years ago, there was some stuff you could apply called "Motion Lotion." There was also a spray called "Time-Off."

I used them, like everyone else, in the final championship meets. They had no discernable effect whatsoever, beyond the psychological.

I do recall that we were cautioned not to get them on our hands, inner arms, or lower legs. The idea was that you wanted drag there, since these parts of the body produced your motive force. Since virtually everyone at the meet was competing, and you didn't want to get them on your hands, our swim trainer (a cute senior girl) applied them.

Personally, I also rubbed Sportcreme on my arms in meets following my warm-up. The smell alone would psych me up.
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  #41  
Old 08-16-2006, 08:16 PM
Stan Shmenge Stan Shmenge is offline
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Nude swimming was definately the rule in Chicago as late as 1974.

/personal experience
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