During a Tuesday afternoon ribbon-cutting ceremony held inside of Dillon Family YMCA Aquatic Center, the swimming time of 20.91 was boldly displayed in red lettering on a large timing board for the hundreds in attendance to look at.
That time, YMCA President and CEO Jerry Rinne said, is the men’s 50-meter world record freestyle swimming time; a time that he hopes to see shattered by somebody who trained right in Fremont, Neb.
“I am hoping that in my lifetime, we can have a swimmer who has swam in this swimming pool break that record of 20.91,” Rinne said addressing the crowd. “So let’s hope that someday we can see that happen.”
The $15.2 million project, spearheaded by Sid Dillon Sr. and his family, has been a work in progress for the better part of 12 years since problems started occurring with the current pools being used for a variety of purposes inside of the Y.
The new 30,000-square-foot facility houses one body of water with six 50-meter lanes running east and west, and 12, 25-yard lanes that will accommodate competitive and recreational swimmers at the same time.
In addition, there’s seating for upward of 400 people, two locker rooms, a hot tub, steam room, family changing rooms, a splash pad and diving well.
Now that the main pool area is reaching completion, the current lap pool will soon be transformed into a 5,000-square-foot free weights and CrossFit training area and the current instructional pool will be filled in and covered with turf, providing an approximately 6,000-square-foot multi-purpose area where numerous classes and activities can be completed.
Rinne estimates that work will begin with filling in the old lap pool and instructional pool tentatively within the next six months, and right now, conversations are taking place regarding how to transition swimmers into the new facility.
While various individuals associated with the project spoke, all sides of the pool – including the upstairs seating area – were filled with people, who weren’t detracted from attending by Tuesday’s snowy conditions.
Midland Swimming Coach Ryan Bubb accepted letters of intent from several swimmers now committed to swimming for the Warrior swimming program just prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and following the ceremony, dozens of swimmers – encompassing all ages – became the first people to enter the Myrtha swimming pool’s waters. The pool took approximately 700,000 gallons to fill, Rinne said.
The new facility provides a multi-use environment where swimming lessons can be taught in the heated shallow end, while the 12 competition lanes are utilized during swim practice. There’s enough room that a water aerobics class could likely even be fit in at the same time.
“I want to thank everybody so much for coming,” Sid Dillon Sr. said. “And I told Jerry (Rinne) and Greg (Haskins) that the next project they get into, count me in, because they are the greatest, they put this together and they stayed with it.”
The goal when diving into the project, Rinne said, was to provide Fremont, Nebraska with world-class facilities and amenities in regard to swimming. That has been accomplished.
“We had a city council retreat a few years ago, like the mayor talked about, and one of the things we talked about was having some world-class amenities in Fremont, Nebraska,” Rinne said. “Another thing we talked about was having a world-class swimming pool, and guess what? We now have a world-class swimming pool.”
The facility is already scheduled to host several events, including: the 400-athlete YMCA State Meet held March 10, a large recreational swim meet this summer and the Heartland Athletic Conference meet in 2019.
These types of events have a direct impact on Fremont’s economy, Rinne said.
“We will also be bidding on some regional swimming meets that will have 900-1,200 different swimmers, he said. “Just think of the number of places – hotels, motels and restaurants — being used and the merchandise people will buy. We are very excited to help the community out.”
First and foremost moving forward, teaching children to swim will be priority number one. Rinne spoke about how drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children, and that two children die every day in water.
“But you know what?” Rinne asked. “The YMCA has a cure, and it’s called swim lessons.” “ … Our number one priority is swimming, studies have found that if a child learns a new skill they gain confidence, assurance, pride; it gives them hope, promise, desire and finally, it gives them purpose. Without hope they don’t have purpose. So just how many teachable moments are we going to see inside this YMCA?”