Can Mormons swim in a public pool?

A lot of the traffic that I get comes from search engines, usually people searching about Mormonism, and sometimes I get some really strange search phrases.

Over the past while I’ve gotten a lot visits from the search phrase “Can Mormons swim in a public pool?”, or some variation on that. 

So, let me answer your question…  Yes.

Yes we do swim, and even in public, though some of us might not be very good, nor look too pretty, at least speaking for myself.

But we do swim, we love to swim (at least I do), but we don’t swim on Sundays, because we feel that Sunday is a holy day, a day of rest, a day for families, a day for emotional, spiritual, and physical recuperation.

That said, Missionaries don’t swim because they are required to work full time in teaching the gospel of Christ.  They do get one day a week to prepare for the rest of the week by cleaning, doing laundry, and even recreation, but even then, swimming is not permitted for several reasons, not the least of which is modesty and the need to keep their minds single to their ministry.

We also believe in wearing modest attire, which often leads to pretty severe cases of “farmers tan”!  Not exactly what you’re looking for when you don your suit in public (which might prevent some faint of heart from doing it :-)… but oh well, so I look ugly, I can deal with that.

So to you, whoever has been searching for the answer to this question, I hope this helps!


P.S.  Because there are lots of misconceptions about Mormonism out there, I’m embarking on a whole series of “about Mormonism” posts, where I explain some of the basic beliefs of Mormons (just look under the “Mormon Beliefs” section in my navigation or click here to read the first post.  We’ve had some great conversations there with people of all faiths, and I hope you’ll join us.  I’m posting more all the time.


19 Responses

  1. Rusty, I have jumped into swimming pools with lots of Mormons. It’s a lot of fun, especially playing water basketball. :)

    From Rusty: Be careful, we tend to take our basketball very seriously – in the water or out. I’m sure you can attest to that!

  2. Why would anyone worry whether a Morman may swim or not. I don’t get it. Perhaps whoever is asking needs to read some of Thomas Merton’s writings about inclusion of all religions and spiritualities. He believed we are all just one, no divisions, just human beings who have much more in common that we may realize. Next someone will be asking, “May a Christian read the Koran?”

    More about merton books to read, etc. at

  3. Maybe they went to a baptizim and thought the Font was a “Mormon” Swiming Pool. Well it’s not! there I answered that one.

    I second the thing about some of us are, well, not as sleek in the water, many like me are quite boyant. :)

  4. LOL. I’m not sure, but I have heard lots of strange beliefs about Mormons, a large part of why I wanted to start this blog. I loved the “sleek in the water” phrase…

  5. Rusty,
    Are you saying I should burn my swimsiut?
    If so you may just make some people at the pool very happy they don’t have to be blinded by my… Outer Glow.

    (This is the funnist post I have seen in a while.)

    LOL, yeah, it cracks me up. The funny thing is, this post has gotten a ton of traffic, clearly people out there were wondering. I should do a post on “Can Mormons eat Spaghetti?”

    In all honesty, while I was on my mission in Australia (I was Mandarine Chinese speaking), many from mainland China that I talked to actually heard that Mormons had horns. I don’t have any idea how that started, but I actually got asked where my horns were on at least two different occasions.

  6. 18 months after I was baptized in upstate NY, I let family know I planned to move to SLC. One relative told me all kinds of things about Mormons. I had already been here for a visit, so I knew better, but I know some of my relatives expected to see horns and see me wear funny clothes. After 40+ years and many trips back & forth, I hope they know better. Hopefully they realize that we’re actually pretty normal.

  7. A part of me hates to admit that you’re right but that part just wanted to be extordinary, not normal. Oh, well I’ll adjust to a normal life.
    By the way great example, I think I lucked out and hear all the weird stuff people think about LDS from second hand, some LDS friend will tell me what some person asked them and stuff, All in all it seems kind of mild compaird to the Horns thing.

  8. I too have been almightily perplexed at the horns thing. So I’ve given it some thought and come up with my very own theory.

    Have you ever played that game where everybody gets in a circle and the first person whispers a random sentence to the next person, and so on down the line until it finally gets back to the first person, and somwhere along the way it got all distorted, with words missing, or different words used because of unclear pronunciation, or whatever.

    Well here’s my theory. Mormons do believe in food storage. We think that it’s wise for each family to store a sufficient ammount of food so that in case of an emergency, we can be self-sufficient, and not need to burden others for care.

    But when you’re storing a year supply of food, you run out of space. When this happens, I’ve heard of some families actually storing the #10 cans under their bed, which in and of itself, and taken out of context, might seem odd to someone unfamiliar with this notion.

    One of the things Mormons store a lot of is corn meal. So I bet one day, somebody visited a family of mormons, and found out they had corn under their bed. They told someone else, who thought it odd, and the rumor began. But over time, and numerous tellings (possibly accross different languages), pretty soon the story changed from corn under their bed to horns on their head.

    And that’s how it all started… well, maybe.

    I guess the point is. If you’ve heard something ridiculous about Mormons – ask us, we’ll just tell you.

  9. I wonder what we mormons think is the strangest of weirdest things about mormons? Well, it may not be as exciting as soamone having corn under their bed.

  10. It came to me a while ago that the swimming question might have come from the fact that missionaries aren’t supposed to swim.

  11. Margaret,
    I think you are spot on. The Missionaries are the most seen representation of the Church. It goes to reason that if someone knew they could not swim then it could be a “Mormon” thing.

  12. I believe the “Mormons have horns” rumor was started by preachers from other churches teaching against the Mormons, and saying that we were servants of the devil. It may date back to the early days of the Church, but I know it goes back at least a century in the South, as is evidenced by the well-documented J. Golden Kimball missionary story were a mob was prepared to tar and feather members who had gathered for a baptismal service or something, and he actually dispelled the crowd by saying that they were Mormons, and if the crowd didn’t leave, they’d “gore the he– out of ’em.” The notion was prevalent enough that the people didn’t want to take a chance on it being true!

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the rumor is also perpetuated in China by anti-Mormon ministers. There’s nothing some preachers hate more than for their new believers to start talking to the Mormons….

    From Rusty: Good point, and one of the many problems with a paid ministry. if I derived my financial gain from my membership, and my families sustenance was derived from whether or not I kept my followers, I’d want to protect them at all costs, and shield them from outside influence as much as possible. It’s one of the things I love about Mormonism. Having a lay clergy, there’s nothing “in it” for them whether I stay or I go, and as such, I give them far more credit for their advice. It eliminates monetary incentive from their agenda.

  13. An empty pool? well I guess we’ll have a lot of fun then with skateboards.

    LOL. I removed the comment about the empty pool. Anyone who posts a link to anti-mormon literature on my blog has found themselves in the wrong spot. Still, I had to keep up your comment because I can associate all too well with scatebording in an empty pool!

  14. I’m sure the inquiries stem from people who know Mormons who won’t swim on SUNDAYS…. I know Missionaries can’t swim AT ALL while serving their missions, but why is it that many Mormons won’t swim ONLY ON SUNDAYS….???

  15. The only reason I can think of is that Sunday is our Sabbath and we strive to do only those things that would keep it a holy day. We have 6 other days to shop, eat out, go to movies, work, and have all kinds of fun. On Sundays we focus on worshipping, family, visiting the sick, etc.

  16. I agree, that would be the reason. We see that on the 7th day God rested, and as such we do the same. We devote the day to recuperation and renewal, trying to only do those things that would be harmonious with the sabbath being a holy day.

    Since there is no hard-fast rules, it’s entirely left to each individuals own discretion, but most latter day saints propbably wouldn’t swim on Sunday.

    Missionaries on the other hand as you suggest, cannot swim at all. For them, the rules are far more strict. Acting at all times as direct representatives of the church, they’re held to a much higher standard. Not only that, but almost 100% of their time is dedicated to teaching the gospel and serving the people. They get one day a week (Monday), where they have from morning until 5:00 to do as they please, but that time is generally spent cleaning, doing laundry, and other maintenance like chores (since they can’t do those throughout the week). Though they do end up having a little time for recreation, swimming is prohibited still.

  17. I believe the horns thing is from J. Golden. Check out “J. Golden Kimball Stories” Vol 1 – when he was a mission president.

  18. me – a mormon- and on a competitive swim team! Of course mormon’s swim in public

    Check out Shade Clothing for modest swim suits with great coverage! Plus use Personal Shopper Coupon Code and save 10% off your first order and 5% off each additional order!

  19. The reason people ask is because most men and women wear undergarments. I’m guessing the men just wear their undergarments or something like a shirt. Do you really feel like a bathing suit is going to deprive you from the afterlife? What kind of a god would do that. Seems almost like another shade of Islams oppression via dress. Rather pathetic.

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