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Ironically, I felt less self-conscious being naked in 9th grade swimming class than being shirtless in 8th grade gymnastics.Maybe it was because in swimming we shed those school-issued shorts that accentuated skinny legs.It was undoubtedly traumatic that such a thing happened.But thousands of boys had learned to dive off those boards, including me.When we went to the pool our tour guide said, “you men will probably remember the barbaric practice of having to swim naked.” I protested, “it wasn’t barbaric, it was a good tradition.” A couple of the guys in our group, with whom I probably had swimming classes, nodded in agreement.The guide asserted, “Well, I think it was barbaric.
This photo of a swimming class at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois appeared in photo archive website.Our society today tends to have crazy attitudes toward the body.The body is glamorized in the media (using impossible models for the rest of us) and this in turn leads to issues of body shame (sometimes producing eating disorders).But it reminds me of what I experienced at Bennett High School in Buffalo during my freshman year (1957-58).
Among other changes, our tour guide at Bennett pointed out that the diving boards had been removed from the pool because of a fatal diving accident.
I recently attended a reunion of the class of 1961 of Bennett High School in Buffalo, NY.