Swim England

A nation swimming

Akeela Mohammed shares experiences and insight on swimming during Ramadan

Akeela Mohammed DL is an independent community consultant who helps organisations with inclusion and community cohesion work.

She also runs a not-for-profit group called ‘Healthy Her’ and has recently set up swimming sessions in Doncaster for Muslim women such as herself.

Although timings have prevented her sessions running during Ramadan this year, she has shared some insight on her own previous experiences of swimming during Ramadan.

Can I swim during Ramadan?

Perhaps the most common myth is that you can not go swimming during Ramadan. This is untrue and swimming could actually be one of the more favourable exercise options during this time.

This is because it is a low impact activity which can be done in a leisurely way at your own pace.

Some choose not to swim during Ramadan for fear of breaking their fast by fully submerging themselves or by swallowing water. This is subjective and depends on families and individuals.

However, risks can be easily avoided by swimming on top of the water, controlled breathing and swimming at a slower pace.

Akeela shared her feelings, which were that if water is swallowed accidentally, this will not break fast.

She said: “I think the only thing people would be a little bit scared of is if they swallow some water, which sometimes you do.

“But if you swallow water by accident, it doesn’t break your fast. So that would be ok I think because you wouldn’t actually be drinking the water yourself it would just be by accident if it went in your mouth. That’s what I’ve been brought up to be told.”

Benefits of going swimming

Discussing how swimming can be a good exercise to do during Ramadan, Akeela added: “Swimming would be fine, because you can take it at your own pace.

“If you’re eating healthily and properly when you’re opening your fast and then when you’re closing your fast in a morning – because it’s like three o’clock in the morning we have to get up and eat – it should be fine.

“A lot of people do go to the gym when they’re fasting as well but I think when you’re doing that, if you’re doing a lot of vigorous exercise you’re losing a lot of water through sweating.

“But I think with swimming it’s different. I think you could do it quite lightly but still be getting some exercise.

“And even the social and mental health, just seeing people and passing time, would be really good.”

Timing of your swim

Akeela also provided insight into what a full day’s schedule during Ramadan might look like.

She said: “We get up around 3 or 3.30am and have breakfast, which I generally don’t because I’m just that tired in a morning that I can’t eat anything, but I make sure I drink some water.

“Then, if you go to work, you’re up at 8am and go to work and if you’re back from work about 5pm.

“I’d go swimming for an hour, 6 till 7pm, then come back and then 8pm the fast opens. So that would be a nice time to go.

“When people don’t work they can sleep in and stuff, so they get a bit more rest, but I think that would be a good time.”

Swimming sessions

Akeela has recently secured funding to continue running the swimming sessions for six months, with support also provided by Doncaster Leisure Trust and People Focused Group.

She has an average of 30-35 Muslim ladies who attend the sessions weekly, arranging from 16 to 75-years-old.

On how the sessions started, Akeela said: “I set up Healthy Her, which is my not-for-profit group, which now run these sessions. We have a gym for two hours every Sunday.

“We do a women’s only gym and that’s great because we have 30-40 women coming to that and they have a sauna and steam room which is free. Then the swimming also came about along with that.

“They’re all ladies from different cultures, different Muslim backgrounds. There’s Pakistani, there’s Syrian, Turkish, African – they’re all different, which is really nice. It’s been a real success I think.

“Mentally it’s just so good and for me, it’s lovely. We’ve had so much back from the ladies saying they’ve never experienced swimming before and they love it.”

Main image (right): Club Doncaster Foundation