Soon after the Coordinating Committee assumed responsibility for the Fat Swim we began to think about how we could ensure the long-term financial and social viability of the swim. Many swim community members gave us ideas and input about how to sustain the swim and who the swim should be for. As the shepherds of a 30+ year community resource we wanted to meet the conflicting needs of the swim community. We wanted the swim to have increased attendance and to be a more inclusive community. We decided that Making Waves should have an attendance pilot where the swim would be open sometimes to self-identified fat women only and sometimes open to fat people of all gender identities.
The pilot ran from November 2016 through March 2017. In the pilot, the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month were for self-identified fat women, the 2nd and 4th Sundays were for fat people of all gender identities and the 5th Sundays were open to people of any size/gender who came to the swim with a member of the community.
In March 2017, we did a survey to see how community members felt about this new attendance policy. 36 community members completed the survey. Respondents who had attended the swim in the past 6 months were nearly evenly divided between keeping the alternative weeks attendance (as in the pilot) or opening the swim to fat people of all genders all weeks.
The Coordinating Committee reviewed these survey responses, including the many comments we received. We decided we wanted to respect the 30+-year history of the swim as women-only space and try to accommodate the varied wishes of current community members. Our chosen compromise was to continue to pilot attendance practices. Specific schedule is here.