February is LGBT History Month
20 February 2017
This month is LGBT History Month, an annual campaign which aims to raise awareness of and combat prejudice against LGBT communities.
The ASA is committed to creating a nation of swimmers, and ensuring that swimming is inclusive and accessible for absolutely everyone in our society, of which the LGB&T community are a hugely importantly part.
Swimming is one of the most accessible sports as it caters for all needs and abilities, and the ASA is doing a lot of work to make sure that members of LBG&T communities have got safe spaces to get involved in the sport.
The ASA has been a Stonewall Diversity Champion for the past three years and is hugely proud to be the only English national governing body to be a part of this programme, designed to ensure all lesbian, gay, bi and trans staff are accepted without exception in the workplace.
There are a number of ASA affiliated swimming clubs who work extremely hard to make sure that they are inclusive, and while they cater mainly for LGB&T swimmers, they pride themselves in having doors which are open to everyone.
Out to Swim
Out to Swim was originally set up in 1992 by a group of swimmers who had taken part in the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics Championships in Los Angeles. The club has grown to be one of the biggest Masters aquatics clubs in the UK, with swimming, open water, water polo and synchro sessions in both London and Brighton.
The club prides itself in being inclusive, offering lessons to those still learning to swim through to elite coaching for those who aim to compete at a high level. Out to Swim has a diverse range of athletes, including professional triathletes and para-swimmers. Their coaches volunteer in the Positive Health Programme which promotes physical activity for people living with HIV.
To find out more about the club, please visit www.outtoswim.org.
Molesley Shoals is a club based in Birmingham. It was founded in 2000 and has now grown into a diverse swimming club which offers both sport and competition, as well as leisure swimming. The club has swimmers of all different abilities, and offers everything from ‘Splash and Chat’ sessions to water polo training.
Moseley Shoals is about more than just swimming. Like many Masters clubs, there is a huge social aspect to the group. They often have cinema and theatre trips as well as pub social sessions after swimming sessions.
For more information about the club and session times, please visit http://moseleyshoals.org.uk/wp/.
Northern Wave is another hugely successful LGBT swimming club which caters mainly for people who want to improve their swimming and socialise. They are a diverse and friendly community which operates in the Greater Manchester area.
The club prides itself in offering a safe environment with a broad appeal and brings together people who would otherwise not socialise together. Many of their members join the club with little or no experience of swimming, so the club is the ideal environment for inexperienced swimmers who want to be a bit healthier and socialise with people in common interest. The club does also cater for those who want to take part in higher level Masters competitions too.
Northern Wave is a swim21 accredited club, the ASA quality mark for swimming clubs, and their doors are open to everyone.
You can find out more about the club by visiting http://northernwave.org/V02/
Manchester Sharks is a gay water polo club based in Manchester itself. They train at East Manchester Leisure Centre.
The club has started breaking onto the international scene, having placed sixth at the Brussels Tournament (hosted by Mannekendish of Gay Sports Brussels). They are hoping to organise a rematch tournament which will be held on home turf this year, and have their sights firmly set on gold.
The Manchester Sharks are also in the preliminary stages of setting up an Introduction to Water Polo course to support new members and bring more people into the sport.
You can find out more about the club by visiting http://www.manchestersharks.co.uk/.
Positive Strokes is a swimming club aimed at HIV positive swimmers based in London. The club formed from a group of swimmers who trained regularly at the Central YMCA in the Positive Health Programme.
The club caters for swimmers of all abilities, from beginners through to those who want to develop their swimming further through competitions and more elite level training. Their aim is to help people with HIV maintain their health through exercise, and also to show newly diagnosed people that HIV does not have to stop you from exercising or competing in sport.
They have a very successful competitive section, which has seen them competing both nationally and internationally.
You can follow the club on Twitter to find out more about what they do: @PozStrokes.
TAGS are a provider of body positive spaces for transgender and non-binary identified people for those aged 16 and above (unless accompanied by an adult) and are based in Birmingham.
Many trans people find it difficult to access pool space, either through fear of being mis-gendered, ridiculed or through fear of getting into the pool. Discrimination against trans people has made it difficult for them to feel safe and comfortable in public leisure spaces, and the vast majority of the transgender community are physically inactive.
TAGS has been successful in changing this perception and building a positive environment for the trans community, so much so that some of their members travel over 50 miles to attend sessions. They were awarded the David Sparkes OBE Innovation Award at the ASA Aquatics Awards 2016.
More information about TAGS can be found here: http://tagswim.co.uk/
The ASA works closely with LGB&T swimming clubs to promote the benefits of swimming and safe spaces for people in the community to be physically active. In a recent report by the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, the ASA was commended for its work within the LBGT community. The ASA has been working on a trans toolkit for leisure operators and clubs to be able to work towards providing these safe spaces and reaching out to their local trans community. This will be released soon.
The ASA will continue to work with LGBT clubs, and our partners Stonewall, to ensure that we provide the support our clubs and operators need to encourage more people from the LGB&T communities to get involved in swimming.