Tag Archives: Swimming

Exercise and Harassment – The Conclusion

23 Sep

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the harassment I had faced from the cleaning staff at my local pool. You can read the post here.

I made a complaint which was being worked through the system. I have only swum a handful of times since the incident.

This morning I finally received a final response documenting the outcome of the contractors investigations.

Here is the response in full:

Dear Leeanne

KGB have now given me their official response, please see below actions that have been taken

1, The cleaning operative will no longer  be cleaning the ground floor area and has been given cleaning duties on the first floor only.

2, The cleaning operatives hours have been changed and will be finished his cleaning duties by 6am and off site prior to the centre being open to the public. 

3, The cleaning operative  actions and work will be monitored over the next three months and interviewed by the Account Manager.

4, All the  cleaning staff  at Glass Mills have been spoken to about cleaning  the centre and attitude while working in areas used by the members  and have arranged a tool box meeting to ensure a safe working environment for all end users.

5, We have also changed the cleaning program to ensure only female cleaning operatives clean female changing rooms and male cleaning operatives clean male changing rooms .

We would like to apologise to Leeanne for the incident and at our meeting she did comment she did not want anybody to lose their job, but KGB take this incident very seriously and hope Leeanne will appreciate we have followed our hand book policy in our actions in dealing with this complaint and to ensure the safety off the members at all times.

Please also accept my apologies for the incident taking place at Glass Mill and we look forward to seeing you in the centre again soon. If you would like to discuss anything further please contact me via email or call me on the number below.

Kind Regards

General Manager

After a very anxious time putting in this complaint, from the wait I had before my complaint was acknowledged to the length of time it has taken to get to this point, I am happy we have reached a conclusion.

I feel they have taken the appropriate steps to protect me and other women whilst using their facilities. I am sorry that this had to happen in the first place, although the stories from others and the encouragement I have received for speaking out show me I did the write thing by raising this.

I truly hope anyone else who is ever in situation or similar will feel able to speak up and get the right results from this totally unacceptable behaviour.

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Exercise and harassment

4 Sep

A month ago I was verbally harassed at my local swimming pool.

I arrived on Monday 10th August at about 6.15am, signed in, and went to get changed for my swim.

I left the changing room in my swimming costume and walked the short corridor to the pool. In this corridor there are group changing rooms and disabled changing rooms.  There is also a cleaning cupboard and most mornings when I am there, there are at least two cleaners hanging around.

Like I say, it’s a short corridor and takes less than 30 seconds for me to walk. I don’t usually carry a towel. 9.5 times out of 10 I wear a full one piece. (Not that it matters what I wear because a public pool is a safe space and what a woman wears should never be cause for harassment).

For a bit of background this is what I have noticed every time I walk this 30 second corridor. The cleaners stare at me. Blatently stare at me. Look me up and down and ocassionally whisper to each other about me. It makes me very uncomfortable so much so that on the morning of the 10th August as I walked from the changing room to the pool I had to pysch myself up and tell myself to just keep my head down. Try not to encourage them I remember saying to myself.

As I walked through the corridor one of the guys walked very closely past me and whispered in my ear “wow”. Such a tiny word but never in my life has this word given me such sick feelings.

As he said that I turned and at the back his head I said something like “That’s so inappropriate”.  I didn’t really really know what to do, so I just went and did my swim.

The whole time I was in the pool I got more and more angry. I was sick of this crap. I remember thinking I should wear a different costume when i swim or have covered up using a towel, and then asking myself is this how they behave with all women who use the pool? Does this guy regularly whisper in the ears of women as they walk to the pool?

By the time I got out I knew I had to say something and make a complaint. I felt unsafe in what should be a safe space.

What I’m wearing doesn’t matter. What matters is we are in a world where some women struggle to get into fitness and the behaviour of men is one of the reasons why. As a runner I experience catcalling. I read stories of women who suffer harassment during exercise which makes them stop.

If the behaviour of the cleaner and his mates wasn’t stopped then my conscience wouldn’t be clear and I couldnt be sure that other women wouldn’t also be affected by this. Also what is this escalated, what if next time the words got worse or he tried to touch me. He clearly has no boundaries.

I approached the front desk on my way out and asked the Receptionist if there was someone I could speak to about the cleaners. She gave me a comments and complaints form and said I needed to complete that. I felt dismissed. She didn’t ask any questions but I was to stressed to say anything more so I took the form and left.

I actually had no plans to ever go back to the pool so at lunch time in the office I filled in their online complaints form.

This is what I wrote:

Activity: Swimming
Centre: GMLC
Date: 2015/8/10
Time: 8:00am

Feedback type: complaint
Feedback:
I visited the centre this morning and arrived at 6.14am to swim. I have been using the pool 2-3 times a week for the past month around the same time.

My complaint is about the cleaners who are around the changing room area at that time. Usually as I walk from the changing room to the pool I can feel them staring and discussing me but I can’t hear what they are saying. This morning, as well as the usual staring as i walked into the changing room, when I left the changing room to get to the pool, one of the cleaners felt it was appropriate to whisper “wow” at me as I walked past. This is disgusting behaviour, I don’t come to the pool to be leered at and commented on. I come there to exercise. The cleaners need to learn some restraint. Is this how they behave to all women who use the pool. It makes me extremely uncomfortable and it is disgusting behaviour. I don’t want to be stared at or commented on. Really upset about this, women should not have to worry about the men working in the centre hitting on them, staring at them and commenting on them.

I do not know the name of the cleaner but to be honest all of them have pretty sleezy behaviour every time I come in.

Many thanks

Leeanne Graham

The website said I would get a reply within 7 working days.

On the 5th working day I went swimming in the evening with a friend. By this point I felt defiant. I’ll  be damned if I let this guy or any guy stop me from reaching my goals.  I asked the Receptionist (a different one) if my complaint had been received.  She didn’t know and would ask a manager to look into it. She didn’t ask what my complaint was about.

On the 8th working day I went for my first morning swim since the 10th August. On my way in I asked yet another member of staff working on reception if my complaint was being looked at. This man was the first person to ask me the exact nature of my complaint. He said he didn’t know about my complaint but if anything like that happened again I should come and find him. 

On the 19th August I took to twitter.

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I only got a reply once friends and twitter followers started applying pressure.

Finally late that afternoon the General Manager gave me a call. He hadn’t received my complaint so I went through it on the phone.
He told me that my complaint should have been escalated to management as soon as I mentioned it to the first Receptionist. He also mentioned that the cleaners shouldn’t even be in that pary of the building at that time of day, since they should hace finished there. He promised me it would be looked into and investigated. 

Since then I’ve had numerous emails with the management staff. Although there is CCTV in that part of the building at the time I walked through it was currently rotated to a different part of the corridor.

This morning, 4th September I met with the GM and a manager from the cleaning contracting company. I was asked to look at some photos to see if I could pick the guy out. I knew I wouldn’t be able to having only really seen the back of his head (and I told  them this) but I gave it my best shot. They compared the guy I thought it was to what CCTV they did have and it looks like it wasn’t him. It might have been one of the others or someone covering.

I am now waiting to hear what will happen when all four cleaners meet with HR next week.

I’m sharing this post because I think it is so important for women to be safe whilst exercising. To not have to worry if walking to the pool, or running outside or inside is going to get you unwanted comments and looks.

Harassment for women who exercise is a very real thing and it’s important we speak out about it. I hope my issue is resolved so I can swim confidently in the mornings again. I miss my morning routine but I just don’t feel comfortable using that pool before work any more.

As soon as I have an update on the investigation I’ll  let you all know.

X

Swim a mile in her shoes

26 Aug

Swim swimmer, who got the keys to my bimmer.  Lolz! I’m going to try and fit a few swimming puns into today’s post.

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I started swimming again about a month ago. At first I felt like a fish out of water. I only learnt to swim in my mid 20s and only really the basics. So although my arms can do the right thing, my breathing and legs are lacking some of the techniques needed. I’m no water baby.

Swimming is a great whole body work out and I find it quite relaxing and a nice way to start the day. It’s never really feels like work.

I started off testing the water by doing 30 lengths in about 40mins and my current norm is 40 lengths in about 40mins.  I haven’t  really pushed myself further than that. I’m not really sure why, I just feel like 40 is enough.

A few things have been inspiring me to swim over the past weeks. Mostly they have come out of a spin off from Run Dem Crew, a group called Swim Dem Crew. Like RDC, Swim Dem encourages and nurtures those who want to learn and grow through swimming. They’ve taken guys and girls who can’t even tread water and had them swimming in open water and competitions. This has me star struck.

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The Swim Dem guys are so amazing and have really made a splash in my life, so as I watched all of their achievements from a far I wondered what I could achieve for myself.

A few weeks ago I had a bad experience at the pool, which I’ll tell you all about in another post. This left me not wanting to swim in the mornings. So a couple of a Friday’s ago I grabbed a friend and we went in the evening. We ended up doing 50 lengths that night in about 50 minutes and I still felt I had mileage in the bank. So I found myself thinking if could do 50 lengths  which is well over half a mile, surely I could swim a mile?

In my head this felt massive. It would be 66 lengths my swim hero Peigh told me. But in true LeeLee spirit my brain just said “Challenge Accepted”.

Friday 19th was the date. I actually found myself feeling really nervous. What if I got bored,  or just couldn’t go on after 50 lengths. The mind is such a funny thing. Fear is such a funny thing. Logically I knew I had nothing to worry about but still, I was scared.

I shouldn’t have worried though.  Got to the pool and saw a familiar face in my friend Priya who cheered me along as she did her laps.

I took stock every 20 lengths. Tried not to worried about how long it was taking me. Telling myself using the words of Dory from Finding Nemo “Just keep swimming”.

At around 60 lengths I started to get cramp in my right foot and left calf. I could feel that I was reaching my limit. 

After just about an hour and 10 minutes I did my 66th length. I then did another two just to make sure. Victory! 1 mile. It felt like such a small distance compared to running where I know I can quite easily run 10 miles without much thought.

It was a great challenge to myself and some thing to really get my feet wet. I really don’t think I could have done it without the encouragement from Peigh, who from the start has been encouraging and gently pushing me with his words, as well as all my other lovely friends.

I dove in and went to my first Swim Dem session on Monday evening just gone and my new challenge is to get myself comfortable in a 50m pool. It’s so much harder to swim lengths there. I have to take a break every length. 😦

I’ll keep you updated and let me know how many of my swimming puns you found 🙂

Find out more about Swim Dem Crew here.