Seattle announces 'women only' swimming program

SEATTLE -- The city announced plans Thursday to begin hosting women-only swimming sessions at four local pools.

The program, which will begin in March, is meant to serve women who, "because of cultural, personal or religious reasons, cannot swim in a co-ed environment," according to the city.

The women will pay standard swimming fees and the program will be held at traditionally slow times for swimming. During the sessions, staff will cover the windows and only female lifeguards will be on duty.

While this is a new program for the city, it's not the first time single-gender swimming has been offered at Seattle pools. A previous program used grant money to rent the pools for women-only swimming times, but that money has dried up.

According to the city, the program will largely serve Muslim women, though orthodox Jews and various other women are expected to participate.

The pools hosting single-gender swimming times will be Meadowbrook, Medgar Evers and Southwest pools. The program will also be extended to Rainier Beach Pool in fall 2013.