It all started innocently enough, last sunday a new friend of mine and her son along with my son and I went down to the pool (it’s the ONLY thing there is on this dang, under construction compound!) dressed modestly in our normal swimming attire…long PJ pants, long sleeved top and a tee over that with a scarf. Now both her and I swim with regularity. Simming is one sport I can dig, I’ve loved it since I was a child and I’m pretty good at laps, diving and just plain poking around at the bottom of the pool. I figured, okay, this is Saudi Arabia NOONE will baulk at our modest attire, half the people on this compound are Middle Eastern and Muslim and My husband kept promising that he’d buy me a proper Islamic bathing suit to use in the pool (the local sports stores here sell them) because, well, diving in PJ’s is NOT recommended…in fact doing any serious swimming in PJ’s is not easy or fun. Needless to mention swimming is such a healthy, easy and fun form of exercise, it’s low impact, tones the whole body and improves both circulation and lungs.
So we slide into the water and this Asian guy with an attitude who is apparently the “new” pool manager sees us as he’s chlorinating the kiddie pool and yells at us to get out. Which brings the Asian guys working in the building behind the pool (eventually to be our gym, restaurant, mini mart, nursery and masjid) out to see what was happening. So our sons were both eager to get into the water and we were both completely horrified. He was yelling that we had to get out, out out! our “street” clothing was unheigenic and would ruin the pool water. I got REALLY angry and told him that I always swim-every day and in the same outfit…which is promptly washed after being swam in and that no one cared before and that he only wanted to see women swiming half-naked and I ranted on and on and on.Seeing that I would NOT back down and our kids were starting to screa, he said…OK…get in but JUST THIS ONCE! So I said to him…Just wait, I’m going to get a nice Islamic bathing suit, swim all the time and you wont be able to say nothin’!!!
So I did. Which leads me too…
Didja all know that Speedo makes a “burqini”-esque swimsuit for Muslim women who cover and those who don’t want to expose to much flesh to the sun?
The picture isn’t very good but basically it’s like a one piece body suit with a mini skirt attached to the front and back of the suit. It’s supposed to be for the “serious sport swimmer” and is’nt really made for lounging by the pool or simple paddling around as it’s cut to be a bit more fitted to the body (not much, but it’s a bit more fitted than the 2 piece dress over pants-like suit). I was a wee tad miffed that there wasn’t more company options (like the Veilkini is sold in UAE and looks like a Sajeda swimsuit).. there was ONLY the Speedo brand of which some are colored like the above along with a plain black one. I got the black one with a matching “hijab” …I thought it was more modest. Again, only downer is it’s not “as” baggy as a burqini or some other designs are and it was impossible to size up too big because of the suits cut…but since it’ll be for use IN the water…particularly doing laps and diving this shouldn’t pose a problem, I rarely do a pool lounge and as soon as I start climbing up the stairs I grab for my abayaah or chador so any body shape is promptly under wraps and I tend to not swim during “peak” periods anyway…prefering to swim when kids and their nannies are out.
There is probably 3 more months of swimming weather ahead of us…atleast during the day and winter is short…just 6-9 weeks so this suit should get a lot of use, we plan to be in the Kingdom for quite a few years (en’shallah). I’m really praying that my swimming in this suit will get the other muhajabat on this compound out and swimming as frequently when I get in there are muhajabat moms watching their husbands and kids swim. I think some of them can’t swim or are afraid of the water (I’ve asked a few of them) but also some of them have undoubtly been chased out of the pool because of their swimming attire and/or don’t know about the Islamic bathingsuits. Thats really a huge shame.