• Carmen Marie Fabio

Tales from the deep end


News that nudity is, or soon will be, prohibited in public swimming pool showers and change rooms may be borne of good intentions. The ultimate goal is making the facilities more accessible to the transgendered community, families with young kids, and different-sex caregivers, but rather than absorb the cost of creating more actual change rooms and shower stalls, municipalities are offloading the burden onto the end users to adapt their habits.

As a former runner until middle age and a torn meniscus in my left knee dictated otherwise, I was forced to finally learn how to swim in my late 30s. Without giving away my age, I can safely say I've spent a lot of time in public pools and change rooms and while yes, there's nudity involved, it's rarely, if ever, so overt and flagrant to cause a problem. Most of us just want to get clean, get dressed, and get on with our day after the swim.

Though only recently introduced in the town of Brossard, the practice of no nudity and single change rooms for all genders will reportedly be gradually phased in at more public pools across the province.

Unless municipalities are willing to go the length and expense of installing more individual change rooms and single shower stalls, users will be forced to either shower in their swimsuits (yuck) and get changed in the toilet stall (even worse) or face a line-up for the dearth of accommodations that exist.

Rather than focusing on nudity, how about a few simple pointers on human decency and proper comportment for users of public swimming pools?

If I may…

Please don't noisily expel whatever built up in your sinus cavity into the shallow end and lamely push it towards the intake filter.

Please don't grope your partner underwater with the assumption that no one can see you. With goggles on, trust me, swimmers can see underwater just fine.

Please don’t pull out your Dr. Scholl’s callus remover after your swim and leave bits of dead foot skin all over the change room floor.

Please don't oil up your body with a heavily perfumed petroleum-based product before swimming in order to protect your skin. It's going to come off and leave an oil slick on my goggles.

Please don't spit on the deck of the pool then splash water on it with hopes it'll make its way down to the floor drain. That one, I admit, is the proverbial straw that broke this swimmer’s back.

“Use the sink if you're gonna do that!” I yelled at the guy. “There are kids that walk around here in bare feet!”

He was neither understanding nor receptive to my suggestion.

If I can offer one final piece of advice to swimmers in public pools, please, please don't pull down your swimsuit around your hips and use the horizontal jet stream of water coming from the filtration system to serve as a makeshift colonic. I only wish I was kidding about this one but alas, there's another example that you can see a lot under the surface through goggles, certainly more than I’d ever bargained for.

We’re all born wet and naked.

Disgusting behaviour, however, is an acquired trait.