west shore ymca swimming

Lessons From Swimming

Since 1972, competitive swimming has been a constant presence at the West Shore YMCA. In the afternoon, the pool area is crowded with youth and teens talking excitedly, diving, and swimming, and coaches encouraging them along. The distinct call of Mike Gobrecht, Director of Competitive Swimming at the West Shore YMCA carries over the din of the crashing waves, giving instruction, shouting encouragement, all the while pushing them to do their best with each lap.

Mike talks about his background and how he views competitive swimming as a vehicle for mentoring relationships. “It’s important to remember that we are building skills, but we are also building adults. Kids learn time management, consistency, and teamwork each time they jump in the pool. Competitive swimming is an important part of what makes us a YMCA, and I’m proud to be part of it.”

Mike met Sandii when her daughter began swimming at the YMCA. Sandii is an animated woman with a bright smile, who shared how the YMCA helped her family during a time of need. “We have been members of the YMCA for a number of years now and my daughter has swum for WSY Swimming for three years,” Sandii shared. “In 2016 I was diagnosed with cancer and because I could not work the YMCA helped us with financial aid through a reduced cost family membership, and a swimming scholarship.

While Sandii was in treatment, many members of the West Shore YMCA helped her family with meals, rides, and support as she worked on improving her health. She took part in the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program at the West Shore YMCA in 2017, which allowed her family to have a free YMCA membership. “It enabled me to rebuild my strength post-cancer,” she said. All the while, her daughter continued with the swimming program. This year, Sandii’s family again found themselves facing hard times. “In 2018 my husband lost his job and the Y once again gave us a reduced cost membership and the WSY Swimming program gave my daughter a scholarship to reduce costs enough so that she could continue to swim in the team.”

Many times, people look at the YMCA and our beautiful building and busy lobbies and think that’s all we are. But Mike reminded us what the Y really is; “The Y is here to help people,” he said. “We as Y directors have a responsibility to look for needs that we know we can meet, and help lift other people up. We have resources and support available, and many times people don’t know or can’t bring themselves to ask. It’s up to us to reach out and lend the helping hand.” And that’s exactly what the West Shore YMCA does in the community each day. In 2018, the West Shore YMCA provided $67,509 in financial aid to families in need of membership. By providing the community access to the tools they need to live healthier lives, the YMCA is truly for everyone who needs a place to belong.

Sandii points out that her family benefited immeasurably from the gift of YMCA membership. “We had a place to go to be together and do something active. There is something for each of us at the YMCA, and knowing and trusting that it was there helped us to center ourselves during a tough financial hardship.” Her daughter knew that she would be able to keep swimming and seeing her friends and mentors, and that consistency was key to getting the family through their tough time. “I think lots of people look at the West Shore YMCA and they don’t fully understand what the resources are here,” said Mike. “Maybe they see it and think that we are a club or a private institution. I want them to know that without the YMCA, our community would look very different. Our Y, like every Y, is so much more.”

As for Sandii, her family are Y members for life. “I know that once you need the assistance, you’re more likely to tell others about it, and to give back yourself. We are all just trying to make a better life for our kids, and the YMCA is our partner in that. I am a very happy YMCA member!”

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