Wigton Baths is celebrating a year of hosting naturist swimming sessions.

Late last year the baths teamed up with British Naturism to stage monthly sessions in which people swim naked.

These take place on the second Saturday of the month and are attended by swimmers from across Cumbria and beyond.

Ron O’Hare, British Naturism’s campaigns team leader, was instrumental in setting up the sessions.

He said: “The first year was always going to be the most difficult while we get established.

“For the first one we had 53 people. We were never going to repeat that.

“The number attending now is always in the twenties. That’s a big increase on the number who were using the pool at that time for non-naturist sessions.

“It’s well supported by locals. Ninety per cent are locals. They’ve become friends to us.

“I’ve seen a couple at a naturist swim in Poulton, Lancashire. They’ve spread their wings.

“It’s more of a social session than a swimming one. People spend more time talking than swimming.

“Most people say after 10 minutes you forget you’re naked.

“We get families in and quite a few young people. It’s generally more males than females, maybe because men are used to showering after playing football.”

Ron said he is aiming to help normalise naturism by having naturist swims in as many baths as possible.

“For every 10 approaches I make to baths about trying a naturist swim, I get nine refusals.

“I keep striving. The people at Wigton have been fantastic, especially the staff. They’ve been brilliant.

“Perceptions are changing. I’ve been doing a lot of radio interviews. You wouldn’t have been able to talk as openly about naturism on the radio 10 years ago.

“I always get asked if I’m naked now. I’m not during an interview.

“The last one was conducted from my car so I definitely wasn’t naked!”

Wigton Baths manager Elaine Hudson said: “It’s going really well.

“There needs to be more than 20 people to make it financially viable, and there has been.

“We’re averaging 22 people. New people are turning up every month.

“More locals are trying it out.

“People come from as far as Fife. And some come from Lancashire each month.

“It’s mainly men, but it’s both sexes, young and old. Since we had our accessible steps installed it’s really welcoming for older people. It makes it so easy to get in and out of the pool.”

The monthly sessions began with a three-month trial.

“I said I’d give it a go,” recalls Elaine. “It’s something I would never have thought we’d be putting on.

“But they’re very nice people.

“It’s a social thing as well as swimming. We have a lane down the middle for those who want to do more swimming.”

Has she heard any adverse comments about the naturist sessions?

“Not really. Initially people had a snigger about it.

“Now nobody bats an eyelid. It’s become a lot more acceptable.

“I’m not sure if that’s because we’re a smaller pool and people think ‘If they accept it, we should accept it.’

“And we’re in such a good position.

“The baths are quite isolated with no windows. We’re not bothering anyone.”

The next naturist swimming session takes place tomorrow from 2-4pm. It costs £5.

Photo ID and proof of home address are required for the first visit.

British Naturism claims that almost four million people in the UK describe themselves as naturists.