Photo of the Week: Sustained thoughts about swimming

[Diving Lessons], ca. 1960, v1973.5.545; Brooklyn photograph and illustration collection, ARC.202; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Diving Lessons], ca. 1960, v1973.5.545; Brooklyn photograph and illustration collection, ARC.202; Brooklyn Historical Society.

I know I said the summer was over and Labor Day weekend was the last chance to enjoy the pleasures of summertime activities.  However, with news of Diana Nyad successfully swimming from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida, I feel a renewed inclination to dunk myself in the nearest body of water.  The gnarly details involving jellyfish stings,  swallowing salt water, and the shock of not using a shark cage would imply otherwise, but I make no explanations for the summertime brain.

Although I can’t confirm it, Ms. Nyad probably learned to swim the same way the swimmers taking part in a diving lesson above learned — the YMCA!  Printed on the verso of this photograph is the description “Learning to swim in all YMCA camps is a must and every boy goes through the aquatic program that eventually teaches him how to swim and take care of himself in the water.”  The Young Men’s Christian Association was founded in London in 1844 to offer Christian housing and help young men develop healthy habits of body and mind — avoiding alcohol and other questionable activities that were abundant in the city.  The headquarters of the YMCA is now in Geneva, Switzerland and the organization boasts more than 58 million members in 125 counties. The mission of the Y has developed over its 169-year history to include working toward gender equality, addressing the challenges of globalization, and open to anyone who wants to join.  In Brooklyn, there seems to be a Y in every neighborhood and incidentally, we also have a YWCA or two, the female counterpart to the men’s.  In fact, the first association for women was opened in New York City in 1858.

So, perhaps a weekly trip to the Y will stave off the swimless blues of winter, or teach you how to dive into the nearest  lake when the time comes around again.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our new website here.  To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Fri, 1:00-5:00 p.m.

About Julie May

I am the Managing Director of Library & Archives at Brooklyn Historical Society.
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One Response to Photo of the Week: Sustained thoughts about swimming

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