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Dalhousie Muslim Student Association advocate for women’s-only swim classes

Photo by Amin Helal
Photo by Amin Helal

A women’s-only swim class has been on the Dalhousie Muslim Student Association’s agenda for a while. According to Zahraa Cherri, an active member of the MSA and a community assistant with Dalhousie Student Life, the MSA “did not have the means nor the capabilities to start up the program”.

“Recently, the Dal/Kings Swimming Society contacted us [for a] collaboration with their swimming sessions for females,” says Cherri. The service, as Cherri points out, has been receiving interest from women, Muslim and non-Muslim, around campus. “It was a great opportunity and we were ecstatic to work with them.”

“The Dal/King’s Swimming Society was founded in 2012 to address a critical lack of affordable and accessible adult aquatic programming in the HRM,” says Harrington Critchley, co-president of the society. “I have seen time and time again when teaching adult swimming lessons, learning to swim can be an extremely empowering experience for people.”

Critchley mentions there has been a heightened demand for women’s swimming activities, including from international students, since the Halifax YMCA, the only pool that offered women’s classes, closed in May.

While waiting for the Dal women’s- only program, the Dal/King’s Swimming Society offers women’s- only evening Sunday classes from 7:15 to 8:15 p.m. at the Canada Games Centre from Sept. 28 to Oct. 26. The society, however, still offers co-ed swimming classes, which are provided every Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It will also work with Maritime Muslim Academy and Saint George’s YouthNet to provide swimming classes for younger children.

Cherri mentions that blinds would be required to cover the Dalplex’s windows during the women’s-only swim time. She says that at a price of $1,000, this would be a costly investment.

She says they are exploring the possibility of a men’s-only swimming session and depending on the popularity, will decide whether or not to go through with the plan.

When asked whether this would be an issue for people who support gender neutrality, Cherri says that although it “is a valid point” to consider, “I believe that having only female and only male swimming times is important, just as we have co-ed for anyone who doesn’t want to put a label on their gender, or doesn’t feel comfortable in a segregated swimming session.”


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