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What’s so odd is that 40 years ago, nude swimming was the norm. Below, you can see that they even used to shower in groups before they jumped in the pool.

For the past three decades, America seems to be getting more prudish than ever where nudity is concerned.

Take the Janet Jackson episode during the Super Bowl a few years ago. In television and movies, yes, but in everyday life, I don’t believe the evidence supports it.

John Quincy Adams used to get up two hours before sunrise to go , and that Billy Graham went skinny dipping with Lyndon Johnson. If you were in the steam room or sauna, you went naked.

Until the last three decades, American high school boys took showers after PE classes. You took your shower in the open, but now most guys wear towels in the steam room and sauna, and shower in private stalls.

Between laps, guys would just head over and lift weights — yes, completely nude.

From the 1890s to the 1930s, men who swam at the YMCA did so in the nude, apparently wool swimsuits (the fashion of the time) clogged up the pool filters.

An excerpt from the history of the Seattle YMCA gives a reason for the change: at the YMCA, not only in Seattle but in Ys everywhere, since the 1890s.

The practice may have evolved from problems created by the long, wool swimming suits then in fashion, which apparently shed so much they gummed up the pool filters.

Later, nude swimming was justified on the grounds of hygiene. Public baths have largely closed because of the AIDS scare, but also because of a crack down on “morality.” Could the movie Caligula be made today? One of the major changes has to do with the Reagan presidency.

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