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Muslim Women Swimmers

Muslim Women Swimmer Resources

Some Muslim women prefer to wear modest swimwear such as a full covering burkini while others are comfortable wear western style swimsuits. 

Here are resources for Muslim women in swimming.

Burkinis:

Caps and Goggles:

 

Muslimahs Endure Provides Opportunities for Women Muslim Swimmers

by Devonie Pitre//USA Swimming June 3, 2022. Reprinted from: https://www.usaswimming.org/news/2022/06/03/muslimahs-endure-provides-opportunities-for-women-muslim-swimmers 


Nura Goodson, the Executive Director for Muslimahs Endure, found her passion for running after she gave birth to her first child. As she transitioned from her life as an engineer into motherhood, she found her desire to run became stronger. As a Muslim woman, Goodson noticed there were not a lot of women running who were completely covered. After some digging, she realized she wasn’t alone. 
“I found we were all out there and felt alone,” said Goodson. “We were not represented.” 

This feeling sparked the beginning of her company Muslimahs Running, which she later rebranded as Muslimahs Endure to encompass other sports. As athletics often teach us, cross-training can highly benefit us in sport. For Goodson, she started looking into swimming and cycling to help prepare her for running races. Since she did not know how to swim, so she started with lessons at her local YMCA. In 2016, she rented pool space and had a swim instructor come to teach lessons.  

MuslimahsEndure250x250Muslimahs Endure provides a supportive space for all women to enjoy and practice various sports, with a focus on women of the Muslim faith. It offers pool time for all women and children regardless of background or faith, but focuses on creating a space where participants can practice Islam and uphold the tenet of modesty. For example, only women and children are on deck during workouts (including lifeguards) and no cameras are allowed. Women are encouraged to feel comfortable in what they wear to practice too. For some, this means wearing a full cover burkini swimsuit, while others wear western-style swimsuits or shorts to cover up.  
“First, recognizing there’s a need in the community, and then providing access,” Goodson said of starting the program.  
There were many moving pieces to get this program started. First, she had to find women interested in participating. After budgeting for 25 participants, she put a flyer on Facebook. Within a week, every spot was filled. She continued to re-budget to allow waiting list participants to join and by the end of the 14-week program she had 80 women and children members.  

“A lot of things that keep women away—not just Muslim women—is childcare,” said Goodson. “So, we made sure they could also bring their children. Next year, I will definitely be applying for that (Learn to Swim grants).” Muslimahs Endure was a recipient of a learn to swim grant from the USA Swimming Foundation through its partnership with U.S. Masters Swimming for its adult program. 

Currently the program consists of approximately 50% women and 50% children. Eventually, Goodson wants to provide a childcare component to her program. For now, all children aged three years older are welcome to participate in swim lessons.  

The second hurdle of creating a successful swim program was finding swim instructors and lifeguards. Goodson marketed her program in many ways to reach a broad audience. First, she reached out to swim instructors she saw at her local YMCA, asking if they would be willing to teach lessons in her program. These same swim instructors helped recruit and introduce her to other women who could be involved.

She also posted on Instagram and Facebook to reach women in the community she hadn’t connected with and continues to approach swim instructors she sees on deck. At their current pool there is the ability to train and certify lifeguards, so Goodson is reaching out to girls who are already involved in the program to see if they would like to become trained.  

The final part of creating an inclusive program was providing resources and flexibility for attendees. Goodson created a welcome packet with links to where swimmers could purchase materials. This included where burkinis, caps and goggles are sold. She also established cadence for prayer. Practicing Muslims pray five times a day, so it was important to allow time for each prayer session when the group was together. To incorporate this into the team culture, each practice starts with a prayer and all participants stop to pray together if the workout is in session. This allowed for a greater sense of community and the continuous feeling of being proud of their faith. At the end of every workout, the group comes together for what Goodson calls the Circle of Gratitude. All women can express themselves freely and state what they are grateful for in that moment.  

“I think our program not only gives access to things they might not have access to, but also belonging opportunities so we can broaden the impact,” said Goodson. “Building not only access to these sports that we might not have but building a sincere community around it.”