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What are the issues with mixed swimming, from a tzniut point of view? Does it make a difference if the swimmers are or aren't Jewish? For example, are there issues with me swimming with my wife and a non-Jewish male friend, provided that both me and my wife are modestly dressed? Does it make a difference whether it's a small body of water (swimming pool) or a large one (lake or ocean)?

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Can you elaborate on how your wife would be modestly dressed? Would she be wearing a shvimkleide or similar garment (e.g., en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burqini)? – Tzvi Jun 3 '11 at 2:05
Yes, something to that extent. A friend makes tzniuah bathing suits for a living. Needless to say, the question is more about swimming than about clothing/dress modesty. That's for another question ;) – Naftuli Tzvi Kay Jun 3 '11 at 16:30

TK, although I cannot definitively answer your questions, I can touch on some of the issues that I have discussed with an authority:

  • "Mixed swimming" is a subset of forbidden relations (abizrayhu d'arayos)- loosely translated as promiscuity. However this would apply only when in the pool in proximity, but not when a male is on one side of a large pool and the female is on the other. I don't know of any distinction between Jewish and not.

  • Another issue that would apply at all times is stray thoughts about women. Again, I don't know if it makes a difference if the "thinker" is Jewish. I was once involved with a group who were going for advanced swimming lessons, using a separate part of the pool and where thoughts were less of a problem because of the age of the other females in the pool. I was told that I did not have to protest.

Although you may be thinking at this point that this seems doable, I must bring a 3rd point:

  • Based on the Shulchan Aruch EhE 21, those who are careful about mitzvos avoid mixed social events, especially where the sole purpose of the event is to have a good time together.
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some other issues:A father has a mitzva to teach his children to swim. If the only place he has to do so is a public area where mixed swimming is common there might be more reason to be lenient. – follick Aug 19 '11 at 13:14
Also, I don't know that what a person would see in a non-jewish mixed swimming area these days is all that different from what one would see walking down a public street in, say, Manhattan. – follick Aug 19 '11 at 13:17
Where does the Shulchan Aruch say that those who are careful about mitsvos should avoid mixed social events? – Adam Mosheh May 31 '12 at 22:58
@AdamMosheh, I didn't say he says that. The basis for those who are careful is EhE S. 21 hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14398&st=&pgnum=106 – YDK Jun 1 '12 at 18:01
@MosheY: Source is Kidushin 29a: דת"ר האב חייב בבנו למולו ולפדותו וללמדו תורה ולהשיאו אשה וללמדו אומנות וי"א אף להשיטו במים – Danny Schoemann Sep 8 '13 at 9:48

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