A History of Swim Instruction and Water Fitness*
The YWCA was officially incorporated in Asheville in 1907. The organization historically has put strong value on health and fitness and, in 1927, the swimming pool opened at the Central YWCA. Soon afterwards the YWCA held a “Swim the English Channel” contest in which participants crossed the swimming pool 1,760 times. Also in 1927 the YWCA began its long-standing relationship with the American Red Cross by offering certified swimming and lifeguarding classes.
The YWCA’s water exercise program featured “Water Ball” classes in 1937, not unlike the water exercise classes that are held at the YWCA today. In 1952 the Central YWCA began offering mother-child swimming classes.
YWCA Executive Director Thelma Caldwell integrated the swimming classes at the Central YWCA in 1963. This was a step towards integrating the YWCA, which at that time had two branches – an African American branch on South French Broad Avenue, and a white branch, the Central YWCA, on Grove Street. The two branches merged in the South French Broad facility in 1970. The pool at the French Broad Avenue facility opened in 1974.
In 2009, the YWCA installed 30 solar panels to heat the water in the pool. The pool also features a handicap-accessible lift and stairs.
Today, the YWCA Aquatics Department continues to offer lessons taught by Red Cross certified instructors in seven different levels for children under 6, six levels for ages 6 and up, as well as beginning through advanced lessons for adults. As part of Club W: The YWCA Health & Fitness Center, there are several levels water exercise and water aerobics classes. The Aquatics Department also offers open swim and lap swim. A new session of YWCA Red Cross Swim Lessons begins the first Monday of every month. For more information, go to http://www.ywcaofasheville.org.
* Part of a series of posts about YWCA Asheville History