Great British Skinny Dip
Advice for running a Great Beach Skinny Dip Event
TIDE The most important thing when we plan beach trips is the tide.
Tide is more of a problem on secluded beaches and accessibility also needs to be considered for those beaches. The big advantage of them is that you don’t generally need to worry about authorisation and upsetting people because they are empty. But safety always needs to be front and centre. Visit your planned location at both high and low water to decide the best state of tide to hold your event. Ensure that you have an escape route if the beach backs onto cliffs. If cross tidal currents or rip currents are an issue in the area, brief participants accordingly.
Check tide times here:
If your event is part of the Great British Skinny Dip organisation, you are covered for public liability, but ensure that you have completed a thorough risk assessment and registered your event with GBSD for the website promotion.
PARKING is a consideration, it’s no good if 20 plus people turn up but you can’t park for miles.
SUNSCREEN AND FLUIDS Remind people of the obvious, having plenty of liquids and sunscreen
- GENERAL GUIDANCE
- Safety. A proper risk assessment needs to be undertaken early in the planning process. This is not as daunting as it sounds and is largely a matter of common sense. It involves trying to foresee the possible risks to people, assess their likelihood, and decide on ways in which the risks can be avoided or at least minimised. This process should be written down and checked by someone else with relevant experience, to ensure that it has been done properly. The mitigation actions have to be implemented of course, not just thought of. Paperwork should be retained, as it might be important in demonstrating that no one was negligent in organising the event, if there is a incident. You might consider having a lifeguard, and if so it should be someone suitably qualified and equipped. You will often find the local pool/swimming club/lifesaving club will have volunteers who be happy to would do for free if you ask them. If in doubt contact the Royal Lifesaving Society for advice and contacts. http://www.rlss.org.uk/ For a beach based leisure swim, boat safety cover is usually not necessary, but make sure you know where the local lifeboat is based and how to contact them in an emergency. Some Local Authorities operate local lifeguards (some provided by the RNLI), if your chosen beach is one such, contact the lifeguards well in advance to discuss what you are planning, and involve them in the process. There is plenty of safety advice on the websites of The British Long Distance Swimming Association https://bldsa.org.uk/ or the ASA http://www.swimming.org/asa/ or Sport England http://www.swimming.org/justswim/starting-open-water-swimming/, though much of this is ‘over the top’ for a BGSD type event and is aimed much more at competitive swimmers.
- Your event is not like a strenuous sports event, so it is probably not necessary provide medical back-up (you wouldn’t for a family day at the beach, after all), but it might be a good idea to have a basic first aid kit available for cuts, grazes, insect stings etc., and to make sure you have a way of calling for help if needed (for example, check that mobile phones actually work in that area). Don’t forget that if you are on a very remote beach, the Coastguard is also an emergency service available on 999. A blanket to treat anyone who gets too cold would also be a good precaution.
- Families and Children should be welcomed, but parents need to be reminded they are responsible for their own families’ safety. Child Protection should not be an issue at such an event, but organisers need to exercise normal common sense judgment, and be prepared to intervene in the unlikely event that they see anything like abuse happening. BN has plenty of Child Protection advice available via the website or from the office for those in doubt. It is probably a good idea to have a ‘no photography without permission’ statement somewhere in the information for participants, bearing in mind that BN will want some publicity shots or maybe a video if possible.
- Venue & timing. Choose your beach carefully to find one without too many hazards (e.g. dangerous rocks, strong tides, underwater obstructions, sharp stones, sewage outlets and so on). Naturists often go to remote beaches, but this can mean help is not readily available if needed. Close under cliffs mobile phones often don’t work. You will have to look at tides to decide both on beach access, and to see if at the time of the swim there are any dangerously strong tidal streams. Not everyone can get to very out of the way places anyway, so give some thought to the availability of public transport, and people with mobility problems. Car parking needs to be planned too. At least you won’t have to worry about clothes changing arrangements! Maybe it could even be part of a local regatta, festival or carnival etc.? It’s supposed to be fun, after all. Avoid clashes with other events which could conflict with it.
- Weather. In making your arrangements you could have a ‘fall back’ date for if it is horrible on the planned date. If you do have a ‘fall back’ date you also need a mechanism for letting people know when you make your ‘go-no go’ decision. Once you are in the water it doesn’t make any difference if it rains, but can deter some people from coming in the first place. High winds on exposed beaches could create a problem with the big waves they can whip up, so that needs considering too.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help in organising and running your day. You will find people and organisations are usually only too willing to help. And don’t confine yourself to talking to naturists.
- It’s up to you whether you provide any food or drink, but my feeling is it’s best if people bring their own. But why not make it into a picnic as well as a swim anyway? It all adds to the fun, and it might even show some people that you don’t have to get dressed after a swim.
- The GBSD is open to all. You don’t have to be a member of anything to come along. In fact we’d like lots of ‘first timers’ to come along and try it, as well as the seasoned naturists. In inviting people, you should warn anyone not used to sea bathing that cold water can affect some people with serious medical conditions and that they must make their own judgments. Even if not everyone can go in the water, they can still go to the beach and enjoy the event. It is not necessary to confine the day to competent swimmers so long as you make it clear that non-swimmers should stay within their depth and their ability.
- No one needs permission to go for a dip on a public beach. Having said that it is a good idea to talk to your Local Authority in advance, and notify the police. This is not actually asking permission, it is a matter of courtesy, and helpful to the police in knowing how to react to if a sudden large crowd appearing on a beach and stripping off, with the possibility of passers-by reporting it to them. They like to know of any big gathering as much as anything to consider protecting it. You will get a much more positive reaction from anyone you consult in advance than if you just spring it on them as a surprise.
- Instructions/invitation. Make it clear in anything you say or write that this is no more than a group of friends going for a swim. If you issue any instructions, include a short disclaimer to the effect that everyone takes part at their own risk. Don’t forget you will know a lot more about it than everyone else, so don’t be afraid to state the obvious about things like the date, time, venue, travel instructions, what is expected to happen; and questions like ‘is it legal?’ ‘will someone watch our clothes?’ ‘what if it rains?’ ‘can I bring my children?’ ‘are dogs allowed?’ etc.
- Publicity. The first question is should it be advertised as a ‘skinny dip’, or as a ‘clothes optional’ swim? My own view is that it should be advertised as a ‘skinny dip’, making it quite clear that people are be invited to be wholly naked. After all that’s what we want isn’t it? To go ‘clothing optional’ risks attracting voyeurs, and people missing the point. If people turn up and wear a costume there’s nothing you can do to stop them, but you don’t have to encourage it. As for publicity, you can’t have too much or start too early. You will find that once word gets about the press will take notice and probably seek you out. But don’t wait for that, make contact with your local press early and tell them what’s planned. This is easily done by just setting out what is going to happen, giving plenty of details and contact details for queries and follow-up, in a press release and then post or email it to the local paper, local radio, local tourist office, local chamber of commerce, and anyone else you can think of. Put it out on social media too – Facebook, twitter, Instagram etc. Don’t forget to keep BN fully informed of what you are doing. As well as needing to know (after all it bears the BN name), BN can probably help you in some way. Always provide contact details of someone who can answer queries or give interview
It will help you if you carry out a Risk Assessment. Here is the RISK ASSESSMENT FORM
- One person should register with the free emergency text service ; http://www.emergencysms.org.uk/
- what3words site to get your location down to a three metre square anywhere in the world. This is useful for people who are not acquainted with long grid refs or lat & long coordinates.