News / Edmonton

Edmonton family-friendly naked swimming event causes no fuss, organizers say

A similar naked swimming event in Calgary was cancelled on Thursday after backlash over children's safety

Kevin Boldt has been a nude swimmer for six years. He said he's confused to see the activity has caused such controversy in Calgary.

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

Kevin Boldt has been a nude swimmer for six years. He said he's confused to see the activity has caused such controversy in Calgary.

Despite a similar event stirring up controversy in Calgary, the organizers of an Edmonton family-friendly naked swim this Saturday have not been stripped of their right to bare all.

The organizers behind the ‘January Nude Swim’, happening at the Hardisty Fitness and Leisure Centre on Saturday, have received no complaints on their Facebook page or their website, according to event coordinators.

“I like to think that Edmontonians are more progressive than Calgarians,” said John Martens, main administrator of CottonTail Corner Facebook page.

A new Calgary naturist group, Calgary Nude Recreation planned a family-friendly nude swim at the Southland Leisure Centre for Jan. 14.

However, the event was cancelled after receiving backlash from locals, with an online petition of 21,000 signatures, calling for the centre to cancel the event citing safety concerns for children.

“Sexual predators will be on the prowl - having an event like that is just like Christmas to them,” the petition read.

Martens said they have been hosting public family-friendly naked swims since 2013 at CottonTail Corner, a beach located upstream from Devon, and they found the controversy in Calgary “odd”.

“Children are enthusiastic naturists,” he said.

“It’s a great environment for kids actually. My own 12-year-old loves it herself.”

He said at all their events, they record people’s ID numbers and names for a period of time in case there are any problems in the future.

He said in the four years, they have only ever had to permanently ban one person.

Kevin Boldt, who has been a member of CottonTail Corner for two years, said he did not understand the backlash over the event in Calgary.

“To me the fact that people who aren’t interested…, are going out of their way to make it so that it can’t happen, it’s really quite ridiculous,” he said.

He said the community is tightly knit and they always watch newcomers very carefully to make sure they are not problematic.

Boldt said he was always very “self-conscious and shy” growing up, attributing it to a religious background.

“When I discovered naturism, it’s hard to explain, but you interact with people and you are just you,” he said.

“When I’m at the beach, I don’t see what the person drove up in, I don’t see how they dress, I don’t see the reference for whether I make more money or they do … you just start interacting with people based on the fact that this person is just another human being.”

Martens said usually when newcomers join, they always leave with “huge smiles on their faces, saying they have never felt so relaxed in years.”

He said they have even extended naturism to yoga and scuba-diving and are now aiming for naked mini-golfing next.

“We are just trying to find a mini-golf place to us, so we can attempt to break the Australian’s record for nude mini-golf,” he said.

Australia currently holds the world record for most people (50) playing mini-golf naked. Martens said for their swims they usually get around 100 people, so they could easily break that record.

He said for the upcoming event on Saturday, he plans on extending an invitation to the group in Calgary as well.

“We still have about 40 tickets left, and I can always get another lifeguard and we can bump it up to another 40,” he said.

~With files from Metro Calgary

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