Dubbed “Trans Swim” it is a bi-weekly session of time set aside at the pool in Cooke Hall that is open specifically for transgender and non-binary students to exercise, train, and learn how to swim.

The leader behind such an innovative program is UMN Lifeguard and Student Michael Klemann who is also transgender. Klenmann found that there was no program in place to encourage transgender and non-binary students to make use of the pool. Klemann noted…

“I thought it would be really cool for non-cis people to swim in an environment they felt comfortable. Swimming is a really important skill to have, and it’s a fun way to get exercise.”

With the traditional infrastructure of gendered bathrooms and lockerrooms, as well as swim suits. Aquatic sports such as swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming, underwater hockey and others are often underrepresented in transgender and non-binary communities. It is quite an uncomfortable environment for many trans and non-binary people. Which is something that Klenmann is working to change.

Klenmann works as the Lifeguard on Duty during Trans Swim to ensure everybody is safe in the water and that the session remains trans-focused. Aquatics Director Linda Mckee specified that Trans Swim is a special program in which Klemann specifically rents out the pool and the session hours are not part of the official University program. However, Mckee is also interested in the potential of expanding the program further…

“We would definitely want to work on expanding these resources in the future,” McKee said. “Right now, just having the dedicated swim time has been our start to see what the interest level is.”

This new program comes right at a time when USA Swimming and the NCAA have recently or are preparing to release more transgender inclusive guidelines and policies to reflect the evolving culture. Which is important as more transgender and non-binary people are looking to pursue sports and fitness. Klemann is helping make aquatic sports more accessible to the transgender and non-binary communities through their leadership.

By Dirk Smith