Backlash after ‘no nudity policy’ at surf club
A swimmer has spoken out after she breached a surf club’s no-nudity rule – by being naked in a changing room. Nada Pantle regularly enjoys having a morning swim, then a shower, before heading to work.
To do this she obviously has to take off her swimming costume before putting on her work clothes.
So she was shocked when she received a letter from Terrigal Surf Lifesaving club, on the New South Wales Central Coast of Australia, saying she breached a “no nudity” clause in the club’s child-safe policy.
She told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: “I almost feel like I’ve been body shamed.”
Ms Pantle’s friend and fellow ocean swimmer Wendy Farley said they first became aware of the new rule earlier this year.
She said: “Probably three months ago, a sign went up on the change room doors saying no nudity, and we all just went ‘what?’ and kind of sort of ignored it because it seemed crazy.
“We’re not strutting around naked, we’re just having a shower and putting on our clothes or having a chat.”
“I’ve been swimming for seven years and I’m 59, I feel more comfortable in my skin than I’ve ever felt. [When] you’re in the change room, you see all sorts of bodies, all ages … no one cares. This feels really prudish and horrible.”
Signs in the changing room advise swimmers to “shower in your swimming costume and change with your towel around you”.
Ms Farley says Ms Pantle raised the issue at a club meeting, but then received the letter stating she had breached the no nudity rule, and would be disciplined and asked to leave if she did it again.
This led Ms Pantle to choose to resign from the club, Ms Farley told the BBC.
She said: “Nada and I care a lot about child-protection, but we don’t believe this is a constructive solution.
“I would happily pay higher yearly fees if this is a funding issue.”
Speaking to the ABC, Ms Pantle said: “They didn’t say what I did or who had made a complaint, but it sort of implied I’d done something almost sexual.”
“At some point, you’ve got to take your clothes off to get your other clothes on. That’s why we have changing rooms.”
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Surf Life Saving New South Wales chief executive Steve Pearce said the signage was only done as an interim measure until the changing rooms are renovated.
He said: “We’re aware the facilities are inadequate. But [the club] received complaints from some junior members about being intimidated and uncomfortable.
“Instead of just putting a blanket ‘no nudity’, if the signs explained why people should refrain from being nude while children were in the change room, it would have been better received, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
“We will be suggesting a better form of signage, but the whole thing was done with the best intentions to ensure the psychological well-being of the members. It was never intended to be fracturing or divisive.”
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