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To better accommodate Muslim girls, the St. Paul YMCA, in partnership with the St. Paul Police Department, has started a swim group for Somali-American girls ages 5 to 17.

The swim practice lasts one hour on the third floor of the downtown YMCA.  During that hour, no other swimmers are allowed to use the pool, female lifeguards are duty and the door to the men's locker room is locked.  These special arrangements are made to allow the young girls to swim freely while addressing their concerns of modesty, namely not having any men around for those who chose to wear swim suits.

About 25 girls participate.  A few mothers now even join in the swim lessons.  The Al-Ihsan Islamic Center in St. Paul tried reserving a public pool for the girls, but it was too expensive.  Local grants pay for the YMCA program.  The St. Paul P.D. participates by driving some of the girls to and from practice.


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