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Blog: Don't See the Need for Women-only Swims

Opportunities to educate others might be a good thing.

Every Tuesday and Thursdays from 12:30-2 p.m. the Columbia Swim Center in the Wilde Lake Village Center will have a women-only swim through January. It is a trial period after the urging from some women in the Muslim community.

Some women in the Baltimore Sun article say they don't feel comfortable swimming in front of men and children. Some said they get stared out and are asked questions about burqini, a bathing suit that covers their entire body including a hood for their head.

I don't have any disrespect for the Muslim religion. I just don't see the necessity to have separate swim times for women because of the reasons stated in the article. I am guessing if you asked most women if they felt comfortable in a bathing suit at a pool, they would say no. As women, we often have poor body images. In a bathing suit, where very little is covering our body, we are easily able to scrutinize every inch of our body. I also believe we have been stared at the pool by probably men and women.

And is it really bad to have people ask questions their burqini? I used to do water aerobics at the YMCA in Ellicott City. There were several Muslim women who participated in the class and had several people ask them questions about their burqini. They took the opportunity to answer questions and educate others about their religion. Last night, I was sitting in a healthcare facility waiting room. A teenage girl sat next to a Muslim women. The teenager kindly asked the women if she could ask her a question about her religion. The women answered the question and a brief conversation ensued about difference in religion and cultures. It was something I was glad I had the pleasure of witnessing. Perhaps if more opportunities and conversations like this occurred, we all would have a better understanding of each other's religions and cultures.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Nonlinear November 17, 2011 at 04:01 PM
Women only swim can lead to men only whatever we want! Have fun ladies.
Peter Monaghan November 17, 2011 at 04:12 PM
While I do agree with your position in theory, I will fall back to my old argument of: "There is the way things SHOULD be, and there are the way things are." Your points reinforce the latter. Case in point the "Curves" gym. Lastly, I will always root for equality, but Mother Nature dictated the differences between men and women. So hours a week for "Women Only" won't ripple the waters much. HA! Pun intended...
Amy Lamke November 18, 2011 at 04:31 AM
Ms. Przydzial, Firstly, Columbia Association was approached by PATH- People Acting Together in Howard, a Howard County Community Organization made up of 15 different religious congregations in Howard County. One of the congregations is a Mosque, but women-only swim times was supported by ALL congregations in PATH. Many women for many different reasons choose to exercise and swim in female only environments. Columbia Association has women-only workout rooms, and now they offer women-only swim times... so women can exercise, relax and have fun in a stress-free female only environment. There are scores of teen girls and women who would prefer not being "sized-up" by men, while trying to stay fit and healthy. My daughter and I are 2 of them. In case you weren't aware, there are businesses all across the country who cater to women-only fitness, such as: Curves, WOW, American Woman Fitness Centers, For Women Only Fitness Centers, Women Only Fitness Boot camp, 4 Women Only Fitness Centers, Shape Xpress, The Fitness Center for Women, Body Women Only, Women's Only Fitness Centers, Total Fitness Connection for Women Only, Lady of America Fitness Club, Brick's Best Women Only Fitness Center, Total Woman Gym & Day Spa, Flirty Girl Fitness, Ladies Only Gym, Diva Fitness, Girlfriends Fit Club, Victory Fitness Centers and Bell Women's Fitness, just to name a few... and many offer, you guessed it, "WOMEN ONLY SWIMMING"... if there wasn't a demand, there wouldn't be a market for this.
Ann Delacy November 18, 2011 at 01:20 PM
Amy, thank you for the informative response.
Ann Delacy November 18, 2011 at 01:22 PM
You left out Expose Fitness which is available only to women.
MG42 November 18, 2011 at 05:55 PM
Considering Maryland has an obesity rate of about 30%, I think a seperate women's swim time is a great idea. Self select which time is right for you, ladies!
Michael November 19, 2011 at 05:29 PM
I doubt that anyone has a problem with a "woman's only" swim time, which could have been implemented by CA with a simple announcement. What created all the ballyhoo was the Baltimore Sun article which clearly suggested that this special swim time was the direct result of a request by a Muslim woman who felt "uncomfortable" swimming with men. Of course this would stir the passions of some, myself included, who are tired of the sycophantic "political correctness" that permeates today's society.
Amy Lamke November 20, 2011 at 07:19 PM
The Columbia Association is a PRIVATE ORGANIZATION exclusive to Columbia area residents and workers ONLY. You would need to understand the vision of James Rouse, how the Town of Columbia was developed, the establishment of the Columbia Association and the role it plays in the community, to understand why this decision is right in line with their mission statement to be an inclusive organization that is responsive to the citizens it serves. Each resident and business pays a yearly assessment to CA, and in return, they may have access to the facilities for an ADDITIONAL FEE like a country club of sorts.... and just like a country club, it's members have the right to make certain requests of the organization. Columbia Association has 23 swimming pools. ONE of the TWO pools at Wilde Lake was hardly being used before the women-only swim times were established. The swim times are only 2 hours a day, 2 days a week. This leaves PLENTY of time for patrons to enjoy both pools for co-ed mingling. I am still confused as to WHY this has erupted into a firestorm of national dialogue. I love that I was able to raise my daughter in such a culturally diverse area. I believe it's made her a better person. The rest of the country could take a page out of Jim Rouse's book... or better yet, read the whole thing !!
Michael November 21, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Amy.....you obviously don't get it. It's NOT about establishing women only swim times. CA already sets aside special adult swim time every day at the outdoor pools, and also assigns select swim lanes that exclude children. They could have quietly done the same for women IF that had been the real reason. It's not. This is about an exclusion solely for religious purposes, namely Muslim women, who are required to remain fully clothed while swimming. Now that questions are being raised, they are trying to masked their decision by hiding behind a “women only”excuse. hat do you think CA will do when other individuals and groups come forward with requests for special swim times for similar reasons. A precedent has been set.
Phil Elliott November 22, 2011 at 06:28 PM
There is no place for religion in public facilities. This is an open society, and we have no obligation to cater to anyone's religious needs. You can say that this is for all woman, but we really know what's driving this. Come to America, learn the language, practice whatever religion you want, just don't expect the government or, in this case, CA to make special accommodations for your particular beliefs. Imagine if a CA lein paying white supremacists said they wanted their own pool time so they would not have to swim with Jews or Blacks. If there was unused pool time, would you grant them special time based on their beliefs? The problem with letting everyone's "beliefs" get involved with public decision making is you have to start negotiating the slippery slope of what are "right" and "wrong" beliefs - that's one reason why we have a separation of church and state in this country.
Amy Lamke November 23, 2011 at 04:34 AM
I am so incredibly proud of my daughter Katlin, who tonight addressed Columbia Association's Board of Directors, thanking them for the thoughtful decision they made in choosing to approve the women-only swim times at the Wilde Lake Swim Center. 56 PATH people came out tonight in a show of support (It was a tight squeeze to all fit in that room). It was a little curious though, there was NOT ONE PERSON who was there to oppose the idea.
Celia November 23, 2011 at 01:43 PM
Observant Jewish women dress modestly and do not swim with men, this will benefit them too as well as all women self conscious about being seen in a bathing suit.
David Thompson November 23, 2011 at 04:21 PM
Michael - Don't believe all that you read. Just because the Baltimore Sun suggested this was only about Muslim women does not make that true.
Jen Przydzial November 23, 2011 at 11:13 PM
Amy - I am well aware that there are businesses that cater to women-only. I've never been one of those women who wished to partake in them. However, I did state in my post that I don't see a reason why women want a women-only swimming time just so people won't ask them questions about their culture/religion. I would think they would be proud of who they are and welcome the opportunity to teach others.
Jen Przydzial November 23, 2011 at 11:14 PM
Ann-I am sure many men are thankful for Expose Fitness!
Karen November 25, 2011 at 07:58 PM
Jen - I am continually suprised at the lack of original thought (or any thought for that matter) that your posts show. I'm surprised that Patch gives someone who comes across as so completely out of touch on so very many subjects a forum. I'm embarassed for you almost every time I read one of your posts. They are never well researched or balanced or well-informed. Ugh, please put your energy into something other than writing. It's not your thing. OR prove me wrong and produce something balanced and informed for once.
MG42 November 26, 2011 at 01:34 PM
Really? You got that worked up over this harmless article? You must lead a sad life.
MG42 November 26, 2011 at 01:35 PM
Ha, interesting profile pic for someone who wants women only swim times. I sure your daughter is not at all mortified.
Katlin November 27, 2011 at 04:05 AM
Ohai- Why would I be mortified? Also, I picked up on your previous comment. You seem to think that, other than the Muslim women, only women who are obese or unattractive would want women only swim times....thanks for judging us.
Jen Przydzial November 28, 2011 at 03:47 AM
Karen - You can have an opinion, just like I can have mine. I am a blogger, not a reporter. Therefore, I don't have to be balanced. My blog is about my opinion. Most of my posts are responding to thing that have been in the news. I don't expect everyone to share my opinion. In fact, I am glad when others see things differently than I do. It makes things interesting! And, I will continue to blog here. So, feel free to read my posts or not.
Kelly Cooper December 01, 2011 at 08:46 PM
Here is some additional information on CA's women-only swim time pilot program - http://bit.ly/vlTksx. We hope this helps clear up some questions out there regarding this program. Thank you, Kelly Cooper Columbia Association
BOH June 19, 2012 at 05:18 PM
The trouble is that not enough men are willing to act on men's only gyms. I really prefer not working out in front of any women. It's not that I have a poor body image or anything, but there's a big difference between working out without women around and a co-ed environment. Is it more stressful for women to work out in front of men? I'll take your word for it that it is for some women, but you should take my word for it that it goes the other way as well.
JustABill June 19, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Michael, What you seem to be missing here is the Columbia Association is a private organization not a government organization and therefore not under any restrictions preventing them from making a change to their rules that was perhaps remotely, partly, or solely for religious purposes. Granted CA does sometimes try to impersonate a government organization they are not and will not be one so they can play by the rules they see fit to enact.

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