January 9, 2018 8:51 pm
Updated: January 9, 2018 10:26 pm

Organizer of naked swims in Edmonton speaks out: ‘Nudity does not equal sex’

WATCH ABOVE: As controversy continues in Calgary over a naked swimming event at a pool, the City of Edmonton says similar events have taken place in Alberta's Capital Region without any issues. Sarah Kraus reports.

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A man who has organized family-friendly naturist swim events in Edmonton for years says he was confused by the recent reaction to a similar nude swim planned in Calgary.

“We were kind of puzzled when all of this blew up in Calgary because the City of Calgary also rented city pools to another family-friendly naturist group down there for a number of years,” said John Martens.

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On Tuesday, Martens said the CottonTail Corner community has hosted about four indoor swim events each winter for the past five years in Edmonton. All events are private and held outside regular business hours at a city pool that is not visible through windows.

“Swimming naked is one of the most freeing experiences a person can have,” Martens said.

“It also promotes body positivity. We don’t discriminate against anyone no matter their size, what scars they have, or amputations or the colour of their skin.”

He also stressed there are a lot of misconceptions and ignorant comments being circulated.

“Nudity does not equal sex. It doesn’t equal sexual activity and, whatever some people down in Calgary seem to think, it doesn’t mean pedophilia.”

READ MORE: Battle of petitions: Petition started to end petition against nude swim 

The Southland Leisure Centre has been booked by the Calgary Nude Recreation group on Jan. 14 for its first nude pool party. The private, after-hours event has been described as “naked water slides and wave pool night,” according to the Facebook event page. The pool and surrounding areas will be completely closed off to anyone not with the group.

Two petitions — one opposing the event, the other hoping to shut down that first petition — have garnered thousands of names since being posted online.

The City of Calgary said Monday it’s reviewing the event to “ensure the privacy and security of participants can be maintained.”

READ MORE: City to review Calgary naked swim event after petition started

Martens said he’s aware of at least two other naturist groups in Edmonton that rent out pools for private events.

CottonTail Corner has a nude beach near Devon that they use in the summer. The group also hosts nude scuba and naked yoga events.

“Social naturism tears down the barriers to communicate that clothing creates,” he said. “People tend to be more open and friendly when you literally have nothing to hide.

“The most important thing about naturism is it’s about respect for yourself, respect for others and respect for the environment.”

When it comes to security, Martens said all adult participants are required to surrender their driver’s licence before a private swim event.

“That is matched to the person standing in front of our entry people and the licence numbers are recorded,” he said. “They’re kept for a certain period so if anything is reported to us after a swim, we have a list of all adults who attended the swim. Naturists do not tolerate disrespectful or predatory behaviour of any kind, regardless of anyone’s age.”

He said in the last five years, they’ve had one issue and the person was immediately banned.

“As naturist parents, we watch over our children’s safety just as much as any non-naturist parents would watch over their own kids,” Martens said. “CottonTail Corner is a pretty tight-knit community. Our regular attendees also watch out for the kids.”

The City of Edmonton did not offer a comment for this story but reiterated the naturist group has been doing this private rental for over five years and to date, there have been no issues reported.

Watch below: A private, nude swimming event planned in Calgary has created a stir but Edmonton has similar events. Ray Jorritsma with the Federation of Canadian Naturists explains what the community is all about.

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