VANCOUVER — The sun was out, the water was warm and there was a skinny-dip record to set — no better reasons to get 382 naked Vancouver residents into the ocean on Saturday.
The event at Wreck Beach, Vancouver’s clothing-optional beach, was part of a North America wide attempt to break the Guinness record for the number of skinny dippers taking to the water at the same time.
With nothing more than sun lotion on, the swimmers took to the water at exactly noon and began cavorting and splashing.
An official picture was taken, and when they came out each had to be counted by an official who will then send his results in to Guinness.
While getting a new record would be nice, Vancouver’s dip organizer Judy Williams said it was just good to see some new bodies on the beach.
“The kind of joy that was on people’s faces and especially with the little ones made it all worth while.”
Williams saw several “first timers” in the parking lot who insisted they wouldn’t swim, but later many of them made it into the water.
“They said ’hey, it actually feels good,”’ she smiled. “Hopefully they won’t go back to unhygienic, hot, tight, sweltering, sweaty bathing suits.”
Participants ranged in age from babies to those in their 80s, and came in all shapes and sizes.
Elizabeth Westly, 64, who’s been coming to the beach for decades, hobbled into the water on two canes because of joint-replacement surgery.
She said it was important to show other women that it doesn’t matter what you look like.
“Get down here to the beach, it’s healthy for you, it’s not (about) sexuality, or anything else like that,” She said. “We’re here for an important cause to promote nudism to say ’hey, it’s not anything naughty.”’
Arthur Gee, who went into the water wearing nothing but his red and white striped “Cat-in-the-Hat” hat, said he wanted to come help break the record, but also finds being naked very liberating.
“I discovered this from a friend challenging me to the Bare Buns Run,” he said, referring to the annual Wreck Beach five kilometre race where participants wear nothing but running shoes.
While the idea was to break the record, Williams said the underlying goal is body acceptance.
“I’m over the hill, I’m overweight and I have a huge hernia that needs to be medically tended. But you know what, this is my temple.”
She believes everyone should enjoy nude recreation.
“We probably wouldn’t have the wars in Afghanistan or the wars around the world or an oil crisis, because everybody would be accepting of people the way they are.”
Roger Proctor, a lawyer and the man officially counting the naked swimmers, said it was a bit of a disappointment that they didn’t bring in more swimmers than the almost 500 who took part in Vancouver’s event last year.
“I think this year we had a number of competing events in the city,” he said.
Proctor is skeptical that the 13,600 North American Guinness record will be broken.
“It’s going to very interesting to see how the Americans do with the Gulf Oil threat and some of the larger beaches in the south that may be threatened by the oil spill.”
The Vancouver contingent has 10 days to submit registration papers, pictures and the official count to the people at Guinness.