Overdressed bather invited back to Port Kembla pool
A Dapto mum barred from swimming at Port Kembla Olympic Pool because she was overdressed has been invited back by Wollongong City Council - dress and all.
Katherine Pulo said a council representative had phoned her to apologise over the Friday incident and encourage her to return to the pool wearing the same garb that got her turned away.
The body-conscious mother of two was wearing a rash vest and a light-weight dress made of non-absorbent polyester when she went to enter the water with her children on Friday.
She was stopped by a council lifeguard, who she said told her: "I can only let Muslims in the pool in dresses."
Ms Pulo welcomed council's apology, but called for greater clarity on what qualified as "appropriate swimwear" at the city's pools.
"You see it all the time - people wearing cotton T-shirts over their costume," she said.
"I just want council to clarify the regulations."
Ms Pulo said she had deemed her dress suitable for the pool because it was flexible and quick-drying, like a swimsuit, and was fitted around the waist, so wouldn't rise to the surface.
The Mercury requested an interview with a council representative on the issue, but was instead sent a prepared statement.
In it, a council spokeswoman said pool lifeguards would ask people not to enter the water if they wore clothing that could impede their swimming.
"If it is determined that particular clothing may present an increased risk to the public they are required to inform individuals of the risk and request that they do not enter the water," the spokeswoman said.
She listed "jeans, shoes, jumpers, work wear, and loose fitting clothing that may rise to the surface and impede an individual's ability to swim" as the most common items that were not considered swimming attire and said lifeguards could use their discretion in deciding the suitability of clothing for the pool.
Council's approach was not based on the religious background or values of swimmers, the spokeswoman said.
"The use of full coverage swimwear that does not impede swimming is permitted and is popular with users, particularly with regard to solar protection, modesty and religious belief."
Responding to the story online, two Mercury readers reported experiences similar to Ms Pulo's, including a woman who was asked to - and did - remove a T-shirt when she was eight months pregnant, and a woman who was refused a swim at "the Continentals" because she wore shorts over her bikini bottoms.
Another reader, responding on social media, said: "I wear my shorts and T-shirt! Am I out too?"
The was much support for Ms Pulo among Mercury readers, although several commentators, including "Another Aussie" backed the "rules are rules" camp.
"Rules are rules, but she wants her own rules. Unbelievable. I praise the lifeguard for his commitment to water safety and acting within council and health requirements for public bathing."
"Helen" supported Ms Pulo, and called for common sense to prevail.
"Now if she was wearing a woolly jumper or muddy shoes it might be a different story."