Jared Kelly My alarm clock woke me up with the news. President Johnson was campaigning for reelection in Illinois. Ordinarily I would be able to sleep for another five minutes, but I had a meeting with a potential sponsor before morning practice.
I walked into my coach’s office and was greeted by Coach Yamauchi and a stark naked woman I didn’t recognize.
“Hi, you must be Jared,” she introduced herself, “I’m Sarah.”
“Uh, nice to meet you. I guess you’re here to talk about a sponsorship?”
“Yes, actually. I represent the California Department of Nudist Registration...” That explained the outfit.
“As you know, California passed the Nudist Registration Act with the intention of funding the upcoming Olympics by allowing people to pay a 50 dollar annual fee for a registration that would require them to be naked at all times and grant them the right to engage in public sexual activity. Unfortunately, the number of registrants has been somewhat lower than our polling indicated and we’re still only halfway to our goal for the year. We’d like to offer you a free registration and a two million dollar sponsorship deal.”
“So I’d have to compete naked?”
“Yes, and under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution you would be required to go naked anywhere in the United States for the next year, although most other states haven’t actually set up sensors.”
“I have to register the whole year? I can’t just go naked for the Olympics?”
“The Democrats in the legislature were concerned that allowing people to opt in and out of being nude would encourage exhibitionists to take advantage of the legislation to harass people, so they required an electronic tracking system to ensure that registered nudists remained naked, at least in public, for the full year.”
“Hmm ... that is a very large sponsorship.” I turned to Coach Yamauchi. “What do you think?”
“It’s certainly a good way to get more young people into swimming, but I want to see how this impacts your performance before we make any final decisions.”
We proceeded out to the pool deck and I ran through my usual morning practice without a suit. When I got out of the pool, Coach was smiling and looking at her stopwatch.
“That’s the fastest I’ve ever seen you!”
That settled the question, and a week later, I found myself in front of a gaggle of reporters in an office at Los Angeles City Hall.
The registrar didn’t seem too impressed.
“I’ll need your name and date of birth”
“Jared Kelly, May 15, 1997.”
She checked the date against my driver’s license. “You want to register as a nudist today?”
“Yes ma’am.” I heard the flashbulbs go off behind me as she pushed the paperwork across the desk.
Suddenly nervous, I filled in the paperwork and returned it to her.
“We take credit or check.”
Sarah handed the woman a check and she produced a needle.
“Hold out your forearm.”
She grabbed my arm and stuck the needle in. I winced and then turned around.
I took a deep breath. “I guess this is it.” Half blinded by the glare of the cameras, I undressed and bundled my clothes in my arms. The reporters followed me out to the parking lot, but dispersed as we walked to the Uber Sarah’d called. Once we were alone I finally noticed the sensation of the warm sun on my bare skin. “This actually feels pretty good,” I remarked.
“Yep,” Sarah responded, “nothing like being naked in the California sunshine.”
She opened the door and we got in the back of the car. “Please enter your destination.”
“We’re going to do a photoshoot in the pool,” Sarah explained. She punched in the address and the car set off, only to get stuck in traffic almost immediately.
“Why did they need my birthday?” I asked.
“To make sure you’re over 18,” Sarah explained, “minors can’t register without their parents’ permission. Actually, parents can register the kids without their permission.”
“That doesn’t seem quit fair.”
“No, but I’m told it’s a very strong incentive to keep your room clean.”
We finally got to the pool, officially, and somewhat awkwardly in the current situation, named the Speedo Aquatics Center. This time there was only one photographer who had me do a series of poses. When we finished, Sarah drove me back to the hotel.
The next couple of months passed by in a blur. I was actually kind of relieved for the intense practice schedule. It made me almost forget I was naked.
The nudity didn’t really become an issue until we got to the Olympic Village in Los Angeles. Disney was sponsoring the opening ceremonies and didn’t want my nudity to be too visible on camera, so they decided to paint my body red white and blue. I had to arrive at the stadium four hours early to make sure the paint had time to dry. Nevertheless, I decided I got the better end of the deal when I saw my teammates’ uniforms.
I ended up in the lineup between Molly Lindsey, who swam the breaststroke, and my roommate Troy. “There’s a camera following you.” Troy pointed to a camera underneath a large L.A. ‘24 banner. Sure enough, it was tracking me through the stadium, so I turned around and waved to it.
When I got to the dining hall for breakfast the next day, the TV was playing me on a loop, under a headline reading “Nude Olympian Stirs Controversy.” Heads turned my way across the cafeteria.
I saw Yaroslav Polzin, the Russian who was favored in the freestyle, walking towards me.
“Lose your suit?”
I couldn’t think of a good comeback, so I just walked away and sat down. I was swiftly joined by a reporter wearing a windbreaker with Nine Network in bright blue letters on the back.
“How’d you get in here?” I asked.
“It came with the sponsorship deal,” she explained. Her accent was either Australian or New Zealand. “So how does it feel to be the first nudist Olympian?”
“Well I’m not technically the first...”
“In the modern era...”
“To be honest I’ve really been too busy to think about it.”
“Do you have any response to Michele Bachmann’s condemnation of your behavior last night?”
“I wasn’t aware she’d condemned me.”
“How do you think her proposal to revoke nudist registrations will affect the election?”
“I’m really not supposed to discuss politics.”
“What about international affairs?”
“I saw you talking to Polzin back there.”
“He just came over to say hi.”
“Uh-huh.” She wasn’t buying it. “Do you think he’ll run a clean race?”
“I don’t want to get into any of that.”
“Well what do you want to talk about?”
“Have you tried the yogurt?”