Nudists take another crack at skinny dipping world record

July 20, 2010

By Kirsten Johnson

On July 10, 187 naked men and women of all ages submerged side-by-side together in a pool, beneath the hot summer sun at the Fraternity Snoqualmie Family Nudist Park.

Each was participating in the park’s second annual skinny-dipping competition, held at the 40-acre property located just three miles outside of Issaquah and owned by Fraternity Snoqualmie since 1945.

Sara (left), of Lakewood, who asked her last name not be used, and Frank McConnell, of Kent, greet each other at Fraternity Snoqualmie July 10 during 187 club members’ attempt to help break last year’s skinny-dipping record set by nudist camps around the country. By Greg Farrar

The event was a part of a national skinny-dipping competition, sponsored by the American Association for Nude Recreation, which takes place annually. Participants at Fraternity Snoqualmie dipped simultaneously alongside nude clubs all over North America. Last year, 13,648 people in roughly 270 nudist clubs across the country participated in an effort to break the Guinness Book of World Records Skinny Dip.

As the public relations representative for Fraternity Snoqualmie, Dawnzella Gearhart, explained, certain rules had to be followed for the event to be considered an official world record attempt.

“Someone within good standing of the community had to be present,” she said. “It authenticates the whole attempt.”

And every participant signed a release form, and had to be completely naked and submerged by the established time of noon.

Fraternity Snoqualmie beat its record of 186 from last year by one person.

“We are always trying to get more people to come and visit,” Gearhart said. “It’s not the scary place that people think. We are a very close-knit community where you can be yourself and no one is going to judge you.”

Of the nearly 200 skinny dippers, about 10 were first-timers to nudism.

Renata Joseph, of Federal Way, came to the park for the very first time with her husband and two children. They said they decided to take part in public skinny-dipping as part of a list of goals that her husband created for the couple to complete before they reach age 30.

“I was not going to do it all. I just had a baby and I’ve been having some self-image issues,” Joseph said. “I was looking around and everyone here is so unjudgmental.”

Jason, of Lakewood, participated beside his entire family, with his wife, Sara, and daughter Felicia. Although he asked that his last name not be used, he has been a member of Fraternity Snoqualmie for 16 years.

“I’ve seen kids raised here and grown up,” Jason said. “It’s a good lifestyle to raise kids. It helps you to understand other people and to open up. Once you learn how to open up and accept your own body, it’s just easy to come and enjoy the sunshine.”

The skinny-dip was a part of the 35th annual Nude Recreation Week, which took place this year from July 5-11. Other events during the week included a wine and cheese party, the Qdoba Naked Burrito Bar, a karaoke dance and the Bare Buns 5k Fun Run-West.

As many club members noted, sunbathing in the buff has a few obvious advantages.

“No tan lines,” joked Sara, who visits the park with her family a couple of times each year.

“Once you get past the first half-hour and realize that no one else cares, it’s a pretty addictive feeling,” Frank McConnell, of Kent, said.

Tom Rohm has been president of the colony for two years. He said he believes nudism promotes a more honest and healthier view of the human body.

“There are no false images,” Rohm said. “You could be a millionaire and it doesn’t matter. Here, everyone is equal.”

“Shame is taught,” Gearhart added. “Its OK to be comfortable with your own body.”

Members of Fraternity Snoqualmie are looking forward to the live music event Nudestock, coming to the park Aug. 28. Bands to look forward to include Wired!, the Mary McPage band and Fraternity Snoqualmie member band Spicey C’eetoe.

Kirsten Johnson: 392-6434 or isspress@isspress.com. Intern Elizabeth DeVos contributed to this story. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

What to know

Fraternity Snoqualmie Family Nudist Park is at 24050 S.E. 127th St. For anyone looking to try nudism, membership to the park is free for the first visit. Learn more about the club at www.fraternity- snoqualmie.com or call 392-6833.

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