The Sydney Skinny is an annual charity event held at Cobblers Beach, Middle Head Sydney, with about 1000 people participating this year. The major sponsor is the Nudie juice company.
It’s fully ticketed and participants enter to swim naked (everyone does) over a 900m diamond shaped course in the calm and sheltered waters off Cobblers Beach on Sydney Harbour. The event, held in late February, raises money for the Foundation of National Parks and Wildlife.
The swim is organised in waves that start from 9am start every 15 minutes, till about 12noon and have about 50 swimmers in each wave. Participants are encouraged to book prior to the day and nominate their start time. Quite a number of social groups enter and swim as a team. It’s a fun swim with no times taken and competitive racing discouraged. There’s also a short 300m course for the novice swimmer. Swimmers are offered a sarong (orange this year) by volunteer helpers (mainly the Cobblers regulars) as they finish their swim should they be somewhat modest or prudish. The sarong is offered as memento of their swim.
The event starts in the festival area in the national park area above the beach with registration and a bag of event sponsors’ products and advertising. Participants are encouraged to be in this area about 30 minutes prior to their start time and then make their way to the beach. Participants can only disrobe on the beach. The event is promoted as an opportunity to ‘run into the water with a flash of exhilaration and the sheer enjoyment of a lovely swim’. Many swimmers run out the water claiming a feeling of freedom.
The course has a large number of surf rescue people along the course. If anyone finds themselves in difficulty they will be provided with all the assistance they need. The organisers have taken the safety of the participants very seriously. Likewise, quite a few security staff are about on the beach to deal with any issue that may arise, boats are also prohibited from the area.
The media are invited to the event to cover the first wave of swimmers who are in no doubt that they will be photographed or filmed and likely to appear on various media outlets, at the end of this wave the media are sent off. Likewise there are no spectators or supporters on the beach and you can be comfortable that everyone on the beach is participating in the swim. Some of the beach regulars will turn up and watch the swim, to work out who they are look for those with the deep all over tans who do stand out from the participants who have those nasty white tan marks in awkward places.
The event is squarely aimed at the general community having the novelty of a quick skinny dip and not so much to the nudist community. For most of the participants it’s probably the only time they are nude in public.
The event aims to promote a positive body image and a few participants had undergone various surgical procedures including mastectomies took part embracing this opportunity and every encouragement should be afforded to them.
However, most of the participants don’t know that Cobblers Beach is a legal nudist beach and most head off after their swim, with the encouragement of the organisers, but quite a few stayed on an enjoyed the sunshine and atmosphere. Phil Moorea, Spanish guitarist was also on the beach providing a very lovely musical interlude.
Hopefully they will return before next year’s event to enjoy the freedom and exhilaration they enjoyed on the day.