Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team
Item #: 1741
Source: G. Smith.
Peter V ,
Athletics for boys were very popular in ancient Greece and they didn't take place just at the Olympic games which were held every 4 years just like they are today.
And just like today only the best athletes from around the country took part.
What is rarely ever mentioned is that every town in Greece had a small stadium where athletic events were regularly held throughout the year. In villages or towns that did not have a stadium the events were held in the streets and the boys and youths taking part were always naked no matter where they were held and anyone in the town or village could attend to watch the events, including girls and women. This is all documented though rarely mentioned.
One can still see these open stadiums all over Greece and surrounding countries among the ancient ruins.
The Olympic games were male only spectators because it was part of a religious festival always held in the same place near Mount Olympus where there was a temple dedicated to this god.
So the Olympic Games were the exception, not the rule, concerning female spectators.
Having read the comments re nudity, apparently during the original Olympic games in ancient Greece the competitors all competed naked. although of course the games were restricted to males only.
The municipal swimming baths on Holderness Road, Hull, in the late fifties had an all-male swimming session every Saturday for one hour from 9am. lt was the smaller of the two pools that boys aged 9 to 14 were allowed to use; there was no requirement for costumes to be worn and about half the boys went in stark naked, usually the ones aged about 9 to 13. Boys of about 14 seemed to favour trunks though not in all cases.
Family members including sisters often came into the pool area to fetch offspring or brothers. This was perfectly normal and not considered embarrassing by the boys. nor was the sight of naked small boys offensive to the adults.
The building (dating from 1898) still exists and is to be converted to apartments. A nearby leisure centre now provides swimming pools but no doubt any suggestion of naked swimming by little boys would be met with pursed-lipped disapproval.
Stuart, I made a long Summer holiday tour in Italy during the 70s in my twenties and it was much the same as you describe on Spanish beaches.
It was common to see girls and women swimming and sunbathing topless on public beaches, something which I never saw in England.
It was also not uncommon to see boys up to maybe 9 or so swimming naked. On some remote beaches one could even see whole groups of boys even older swimming naked.
The further South I went the more this was common, maybe poverty had something to do with it, few seemed to own swimsuits at that age. The girls in these places however always swam in their underwear, only the boys swam naked. It didn't seem to bother any of them at all. Teen boys and girls usually wore old shorts or something or just underpants for boys.
Re no trunks on the beach. As a kid in the 1970s i spent all my summers in northern spain and was often naked on the beach there, a lot of women were topless and they had a far more relaxed attitude than britain obviously.
In terms of ages acceptable it was not clearly defined but definitely not acceptable once puberty had started and always boys not girls. I think the last time i was naked was 13 but was an exception as I had forgotten my trunks and my mum thought it was ok as i was still a boy,- no one seemed to care, except me!
I lived in a seaside town in Sussex until my early teens, and trips to the beach were regular events throughout that period. Swimming trunks were always required, with no exception. Even when playing in the privacy of our back garden in the summer, total nudity was utterly taboo.
I also wonder up to at what age did mothers expect boys to be naked in public, ( on the beach). I know that my mother always ensured I had trunks on and changed behind a towel.
I presume that it was a boys only school that made you swim naked.
Were there any occasions when females like teachers or others could see you swim naked?
Also, was there an age limit when mothers used to make boys sim naked on beaches and pools? I would also presume that this was only for very young boys.
Back in my school days naked swimming for the boys was just seen as normal and most of us had mothers that required us to be naked outside of school at pools and beaches so nudity among boys was quite commonplace and ordinary to us. We even did the occasional pe lesson nude I remember one time we should have been swimming but the pool was being serviced so we had regular pe instead and of course none of us had our shorts so we all ran into the gym nude.
Ian you seemed to have attend a school for masochists. Having a belting league and you accepting a belting as a forfeit for loosing at a game of strip poker. Was not loosing the game considered by the other participants punishment enough? Surely the game was not played at school.
Stuart, we had to take three, four or even six strokes of the belt over the hands given hard by the teacher. Tough but effective as it earned you "street cred" with the other lads. Some lads were even in informal "belting leagues" trying to get as many strokes of the belt as possible over the year. Also, the belt was often seen as a form of entertainment livening up a dull period.
There was bullying, but not much. I also remember one day a lad stripping off, starting to take his trunks out of his bag, hesitating, putting them back then going to the teacher to say he'd forgotten them. It was a quite a sight seeing him belted. Naked beltings were extremely rare.
Apart from actually forgetting my pe kit (maybe once a term), I took on a forfeit to pretend to forget my trunks after losing a game of strip poker with several lads from the class.
Ian, your comment about punishment for forgetting your trunks reminded me that unlike in my prep school where nude swimming was the norm, in the senior school it was regulation black speedo type trunks.
It was still in a private pool and if you forgot your trunks you had to swim naked and goer two whacks from his trusty plimsoll.
However this opened up a route for either bullying or tricks in that some boys every so often nicked or hid another boys trunks before the lesson resulting in the inevitable nude swim and slippering. They couldnt do it regularly else that would have been too obvious, but you never knew when it might happen and if you'd be the target. Happened to me a couple of times. I'm sure the PE teachers knew it went on but as it wasn't targeted at one individual they turned a blind eye to it.
Early in secondary in a boys school, our class was scheduled for a gym period but for some reason we had a swimming period instead. We only had white gym shorts with us but not our Speedo style trunks. On that occasion, we had one of the milder PE teachers who told us to swim wearing our shorts if we wanted. He said if they were uncomfortable, take them off if we wanted. The bold lads were naked before he finished his breath and the rest of us soon stripped off. We had a whale of a time when it was our choice.
After that we always took our trunks just in case, as there were some really strict teachers who would just order you in naked and punish you for not having your trunks.
@Curious. There were boys who didnt like it but that was as we got older and puberty kicked in. I know one of my friends I'm still in touch with hated it because he was one of the first to start and felt very self conscious about it all. He didnt realise the rest of us were envious! We just loved swimming and the vast majority of us didnt care, in fact it was better without trunks.
As for the family watching us swim, boys didnt really comment on it other than to ask me what the head said. The girl in question was unlucky in what she got to see however as i hadnt started puberty so there wasnt exactly a lot to look at, if it had been one of the others she would have been more amazed!!
I do recall the girl saying to her brother that he would have to swim naked to and laughing,but it didnt seem to worry him.
I had the school medical when I was 14,The gym was used for three days to service the third year consisting of over a hundred boys.It was organised so twenty boys left the classroom at a time and undressed in the changing room.We lined up in the corridor all naked and nervous.Five were admitted at a time to the examination desks.Nurses and two doctors carried out extensive and thorough examination,eyes,ears,throat chest tested,asked if we smoked!Then the lower Netherlands!I didn't get the timing right with the coughing so I had to have it done twice.We we all glad when it was over including the BCG injection we were all dreading!That was in 1974.So I don't know what happens today with medicals,is it even on the National Curriculum. It will be all different now,post Covid.
Thanks for your replies, guys.
You seem to confirm that naked swimming was most common in Prep schools.
Although I was at school in the same era as you I went to 'normal' primary and Secondary school which didn't have the luxury of a swimming pool.
As a matter of fact I was not even aware at the time that there were schools that had swimming pools, let alone that boys had to be naked to use them during lessons.
I suppose the ever-present matron was taken for granted like you mention. Were there any boys who were shy or too modest who never got used to swimming naked?
I found Stuart's post particularly amusing how the headmaster had no hesitation or care in showing families, including girls, the boys swimming nude during their lessons.
Since you were the only boy out of the water and called over by the headmaster to stand naked in front of the visiting girl did the other boys tease you about it later? I am sure they had quite a good laugh about it.
@Curious at my prep school ages 9-13 our naked swimming was boys only and i recall seeing females rarely. The first time was when i was in the junior class aged 9 and our form teacher was the only female teacher in the school. She would very occasionally visit our swim lesson which were taken by the PE teacher.
The only other occasions i remember was when I was in final year and our swim lesson that year was on a Saturday morning ( yes we still had the dreaded saturday morning school, it was scrapped the year after I left!). A few times whilst we were having our lesson the headmaster would appear showing a family around the school so there would a mother and sometimes a sister of the prospective boy pupil.
I vividly remember one such visit and for some reason I was not in the water when they came in nd the Head was telling them about the pool and called me over. I cant remember what question he asked me but the girl in the family, who looked about my age, was just staring wide eyed at me a naked boy.
Other than that there were never any female visitors. Our swim gala was just the pupils and teachers as it was too small yo fit anyone else in so I the aforementioned class teacher was there and often matron too, it was boarding/ day school and matron was there for any first aid needs. All the boys swam naked though the boys in the senior class were allowed to wear trunks ( regulation black only) at the gala most didn't bother especially if like me they hadnt started puberty yet.
We had naked swimming right through the school and the only woman who was ever present was Matron not that she was there routinely but of course if anyone was injured she was there like a shot.
No one could be shy in front of her, she had seen us all naked at times and indeed I doubt there was a boy who had been through the prep school who had not been at least once over Matron's knee for a soundly smacked (bare) bottom, something that was memorable for all the wrong reasons. It wasn't anything like as bad as getting the cane from a master but it certainly stung for quite some time. As a lad prone to a bit of mischief, I probably earned a smacked bottom a couple of times each term in the prep school.
She always expected older boys to be more responsible and if behaviour was bad she simply sent you to a master for the cane but I do remember cheeking her in jest when I was in the fifth form and she fixed me with a hard stare and told me I wasn't too old for a smacked bottom even then not that she carried it through.
Curious - you ask about naked swimming, it was normal at my school however the only woman who was ever possibly present was Matron and she was well acquainted with naked boys so no one was in the least bit shy in front of her. Other than that it was men only.
Several posters here say that they swam naked at school and does not seem to have been a big deal since it was a male only environment.
But I have read somewhere that in some schools the boys up to a certain age had female instructors during nude swim classes, mostly in prep schools if I am not mistaken. Can anyone confirm this?
I have also read that some schools had swimming galas in the nude in front of parents and sisters and other females like school staff and teachers. Can anyone also confirm this?
Josh, Yes I see the same, some younger guys do the towel dance at the gym and some don't shower because we have 8 showers but they are only have separators on the sides, no curtains or doors on the fornt so no hiding is possible.
However I would say they are a minority most of the younger guys just get changed the same as everyone else and afew happily strut around naked, but they tend to be the very well muscled and/or endowed!
I agree my school experiences of compulsory showers & nude swimming as well as public pool communal changing rooms, gave me an understanding that we are all the same basically and there is nothing to be ahsamed of.
Paul as you say it was not thought strange that perhaps teachers and younger pupils were naked together in changing rooms.In the past when I went to my local swimming pool the changing facilities were single sex and adult men and boys all changed in the same area. However, when I go to the gym now (hopefully soon again)although it is a communal changing area for males, I notice quite often the younger age group go into to the toilet cubicle to change into shorts, and if they have had a shower or swim then then really struggle doing the "towel dance" so that they are not exposed. I am grateful for my old school days that taught me to just undress and get on with it.
It was not only in the school changing room I got used to communal changing, all the scout camps I attended with six to a tent there was no privacy when changing or getting undressed for bed.
I have an elderly friend, 84, i think now, who boarded at Ampleforth as a boy. He told me that whilst during their swimming lessons they wore trunks, in their spare time older boys were allowed to swim in the large pond in the summer and there everyone swam naked.
An interesting mix but again it was older boys only so similar to the story below.
JoshH - I doubt there would be any naked swimming at schools these days. I was a sixth former at school in 1968/9 and back then we did swim naked and at lunch times alongside male members of staff.
Matthew - There were rumours when I was in lower school that sixth formers and staff swam together at lunchtime but we had no way of knowing one way or the other whether it was true or not and so it remained. When I was in, I think the fourth year we had PE in the slots straight after lunch and while we were getting undressed as it was for a swimming class, two members of staff returned to the changing room from the pool, both naked and I guess that confirmed what happened but that was when I knew for definite.
As for staff and younger pupils mixing when naked, it did happen in the changing room and the showers, staff had no separate showers so if they had been doing something either at lunch time or during a free period they could only use the showers we used. I certainly never thought it was in any way odd.
For supervising swimming, the PE staff wore black shorts for everything, they were always bare chested too. I didn't think it was odd that they wore them at the poolside, it was just what happened.
In your earlier years at the school, were you aware that staff and six-formers had the use of the pool together at lunch times?
In your earlier years, when the master supervising /teaching you wore black shorts, did you think that it wasn't necessary? Since staff and sixth-form pupils were able to mix at lunchtimes, it must have been considered inappropriate for staff and younger pupils to be naked together - but was it? What do you think?
Paul re your latest comments about swimming. When would that have been. I cannot see that happening these days.
Matthew, at my school (all boys) we swam naked throughout my time there. The masters used to wear their black shorts at the pool side and only got in the water if a lad was in difficulty so they didn’t pause to take them off.
At lunchtimes though staff and sixth formers could use the pool and it was normal that both would be naked. Sometimes a new man on the staff would appear in trunks, always speedos back in those days but they never made a second appearance. Swimming naked is normal!
Hug, thank you once again for your input.
It does seem unnecessary for recruits to shower communally, put on their underpants and stand in a line only to have to remove them for the rectal/testicular/foreskin examination. But times and practices change and a new "normal" evolves.
At various times on these sites, the subject of naked swimming has been discussed and, in an all-male context similar to the above, the wearing of trunks was more often than not, the practice. I can't see why it needed to be - even for the teacher in charge.
Matthew, thank you once again for your comment.
You ask about rectal examinations in the navy. The attitude to gloves – now more commonly known to everyone as PPE has changed greatly over the years since I was a young doctor. In my early years gloves were to protect you and not others and so yes, going along a line of thirty recruits for all other parts of the examination you used your bare hands but when it got to the rectal exam you pulled on a glove and yes, the same glove was worn for all thirty lads. You are right it was quite normal. You were also allowed one very small sachet of lube which barely covered your finger for the first lad let alone the other twenty nine so it was not a comfortable procedure and indeed as a recruit and during my service I was on the receiving end of the same sort of medical examinations as I conducted on many occasions so I know exactly what it was like.
I was never really bothered by it either doing it or on the receiving end of the gloved finger, my surname begins with an R so I was always towards the end of the line and let’s say being on the receiving end of the much used glove never did me any harm.
Now of course that would be unthinkable, the forces still examine men in groups but I’m sure the glove would be changed between each lad. Now PPE is two-way protection for you and the patient so the practice of years gone by would not be permitted. I think until it’s time for genital and rectal exams lads keep their underpants on these days too, something that would have been unthinkable in my day and given that they will have been in a communal shower before the exam putting underpants back on seems unnecessary to me.
In father/son examinations penis, foreskin and testicles would be checked for both, for the lad it would be normal to inspect the gluteal cleft but only insert a finger if you had reason to do so with an under eighteen, after that I always would. Dad would always have a rectal examination simply to check all was well particularly with his prostate but you would do a sweep of the cavity to check for anything that shouldn’t be there too. I always warned both before we started that an erection was likely and it was a sign of a good healthy body and I would be more concerned if they didn’t have one. I have no memory of either dads or lads being embarrassed.
Since it’s a sensitive subject I would emphasise to the men of a certain age who post here that a check of your prostate is something you should consider. Prostate cancer was the most diagnosed cancer last year and my own brother died of it several years back. As such I’m on a screening programme and go for a check every six months. It really doesn’t hurt and done properly you barely feel it and it’s over in seconds and your GP probably does three or four rectal examinations a day. Please get checked.
Thank you, Hugh, for coming back.
When you were performing the rectal examination on the line of naval recruits, I wonder if you wore a glove and, if you did, was it only the one, same glove as you went along the line? This may seem a strange question but times and practices change and perceptions of what is "normal" change correspondingly.
Can I ask about your father/son examinations? I assume that they included rectal/testicular/foreskin examinations and there must have been occasions when they both had erections.
I think that must have been a rare, personal experience that they both shared.