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Updated Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 01:16 AM

Parks revise swimwear guidelines after incident with cancer survivor

By Emily Heffter
Seattle Times staff reporter

Seattle's parks director, Christopher Williams, has approved more inclusive guidelines for Seattle's public pools and beaches in response to a controversy this summer over a cancer survivor who wanted to swim topless after her double mastectomy.

Parks officials initially told the woman, Jodi Jaecks, that she couldn't swim without a top. They relented after The Stranger and other media reported about her. Jaecks wanted to swim laps but said swimsuit tops were uncomfortable because of scars from her surgery.

The city previously didn't have an official policy about swimwear, said parks spokeswoman Dewey Potter, but convened a Swimwear Review Task Force to craft guidelines. The city will train its employees to be more inclusive and empower them to make temporary allowances for people with special needs who want to use the pools or beaches.

The guidelines specify that swimwear won't be allowed if it exposes genitals or female breasts, or if it is otherwise inappropriate, such as a thong. People who need exceptions can ask staff members in charge of the beach or pool that day. The city will post this notice at the city's beaches and pools:

"You are welcome to enjoy this facility. Please wear appropriate swimwear. If you feel you need an individual accommodation, we invite you to speak with the pool or swim beach coordinator."

Under the new rules, Jaecks should be able to swim without a top any time, not just during adult swim times, as the city initially allowed. In an email, Jaecks said she was pleased with the new guidelines, which she helped create. "Success!!" she wrote.

She added that she hasn't had a chance to go swimming yet under the new rules.

"I have intended to, but my work schedule keeps getting in the way. I am so looking forward to getting that initial dip out of the way!"

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or eheffter@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @EmilyHeffter.



painful to wear top after her surgery




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