Most rabbis that I have spoken to or read their opinion in local newspaper articles have prohibited mixed swimming.

My understanding of this prohibition seems to mean that men and women should not be in the same pool or close proximity in the same body of water.

I am curious what would be considered "far enough" to avoid the problem. For example, would any of these scenarios avoid the problem?

  • Would a floating rope in a pool, lake or the ocean be sufficient, assuming each gender stays on his / her side of the rope? Would separate entries to the swimming area be needed?

  • What if there are two pools next to each other by a common walkway? These are considered separate distinct bodies of water.

  • Using a lake, there are two enclosed "docks" creating separate swimming areas for men and women, but they are in the same lake.

I am focusing specifically on the problem of swimming, and not any problems there might be of viewing women or men in bathing suits on their way to or from the swimming area itself. I understand that they may be related, but for purposes of this question, let's assume that this is handled by everyone having a robe, towel other covering In arm's reach to the swimming area.

  • "viewing women or men in bathing suits on their way to or from the swimming area itself": Are you also assuming no one can see people in the swimming area? Or would you be satisfied with an answer that says it's forbidden on those grounds? (People can see underwater, or people can see others floating on the water.)
    – msh210
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 15:55
  • @msh210 If those items are factors in the prohibition, that's fine. Re underwater - two separate pools or gridded docks in a lake would avoid that problem, I guess.
    – DanF
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 16:03

1 Answer 1


Other than the possibilities of immodest dress and behavior, and the more general issues of the mixing of the genders (see Masecheth Succah 51b and, e.g., Igroth Moshe, Orach Chayim I:39), there is no specific prohibition inherent to the physical act of swimming. Obviously, clothing that might be modest when dry might not be so when wet. And generally, swimming is an act of leisure more likely to lead to inappropriate interactions than would the mixed funerals mentioned in the aforementioned gemara, which means it is more of a problem certainly than mixed seating at a synagogue. But as far as specific swimming related guidelines, that would be up to the contemporary Rabbi ruling on the diverse circumstances involved in a specific situation.

(Anecdotally, Morasha Kollel is a religious, men's learning camp, under the auspices of Rav Mordechai Willig, in the Poconos that has swimming for the men at one end of the large lake simultaneously with swimming for women at the main camp at the other end. Swimming is limited in both areas to a small swimming area and both parties are barely visible to each other due to the great distance.)


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