As I rode my bike to work today, I passed the location where I learned how to swim. I think of it as the birthplace of Gillian the triathlete. It was at the New City YMCA at the corner of Halstead and Clybourn. I took lessons with my friend Medora and her husband Kevin. We went every Wednesday for several sessions at least a year. It was a large 25M pool in a big room with lots of light (not like the Lakeview Y pool) . There were a ton of programs at that Y where those who couldn’t afford a fancy gym could enroll in programs and enroll their kids too! I’m sure it provided a great diversion for many inner city kids who lived in the area. We were taught by an awesome young kid from Guatemala. He poured his heart into teaching us because we went so diligently. Until then I couldn’t even swim a lap.
When we learned that the Y was selling the land to developers who were going to tear it down we were heart broken. Hugo, the instructor also would lose a source of income. We continued to go right up until they closed it. We even went to Hugo’s house for dinner, where we met his wife and dad! I often wonder what he is up to these days and would love to show him how far I have come :). I watched as each day brought the building further and further into the ground and as the signs went up advertising the opening of more stores. I could see what was once the pool being filled with landfill. It was just what the area needed MORE stores! It was so sad.
Each time I ride by I shake my head in disgrace as I see that five years later there is still nothing but a giant weed farm where a wonderful inner city Y once stood.