Evanston/North Shore

Flying Fish Aquatics



YWCA Evanston/North Shore Flying Fish Aquatics Program began in 1992 with swimming lessons offered to young children. Just two years later, the learn-to-swim program taught swimming to 200 children, and YWCA Flying Fish Swim Team was introduced with 25 swimmers eight years and younger.

Since then, the program has grown exponentially as the reputation of the learn-to-swim program has spread, team trophies and individual championships have been won, Flying Fish swimmers have been elected to captain their high school swim teams at Evanston Township High School, New Trier High School and Loyola Academy, and Masters Swimming and Water Polo have been introduced.

Today, YWCA Evanston/North Shore teaches 1,500 children how to swim each year through the Learn-to-Swim program, boasts about 550 registered Flying Fish swim team members, and has 80 adult swimmers on the Masters swim team. The Aquatics Program also serves adult members through aqua aerobics and lap swim. Through all of these programs, YWCA Evanston/North Shore plays a critical role in providing youth the opportunity to learn a life-saving skill, girls the opportunity to become empowered through sport, and all children the opportunity to be part of a supportive and strength-building team. YWCA Evanston/North Shore's Flying Fish Aquatics Program is a place where young and old alike come together for health and personal growth.

Our facilities

YWCA Evanston/North Shore has two pools:

  • a five lane, 25 yard deep-water pool
  • a four lane, 20 yard shallow-water pool

Both are handicapped-accessible; the deep-water pool is also fitted with a hydraulic chair lift. The pools are multi-use and follow the recommended water temperatures of 82 to 84 degrees for the deep-water pool and 86-88 degrees for the shallow-water pool.

The Oswald "Oz"  Roper Memorial Fund

 Lots of people ask us what swimming has to do with our mission to eliminate racism and empower women. A lot, actually! For many reasons including exclusion and discrimination, many women and African Americans didn't used to learn to swim - often with disastrous consequences. Read more about the connection here:

We provide scholarships for children whose families cannot afford the cost of swim instruction through donations to The Oz Fund and grants from organizations like the USA Swimming Foundation:

As a local partner in the
Make a Splash Program, the national child-focused water safety initiative of the USA Swimming Foundation, we are aligned with the nation's top learn-to-swim resources in a nation-wide effort to raise awareness of water safety and provide opportunities for all children to learn to swim.

The USA Swimming Foundation has invested millions of dollars to provide grants to qualified Local Partner learn-to-swim programs, to spread national awareness, and to bring together strategic partners to end drowning. To date, more than 2 million children have received the lifesaving gift of swim lessons through the USA Swimming Foundation Make a Splash Local Partner network, comprised of more than 600 qualified lesson providers across the nation. To learn more, visit www.usaswimmingfoundation.org/makeasplash.

In September of 2013, YWCA honored Oswald Roper’s legacy with the Flying Fish Aquatics program by renaming the Aquatics Scholarship Fund in his name. It is now called the “Oz Fund,” and contributions may be directed toward either aquatics scholarships or improvements to YWCA’s aquatics facilities. The fund is the beneficiary of a significant contribution from the Oswald Roper Memorial Fund, established by his family and friends when he died.

Oswald was one of the first people Pete hired, and for almost 20 years, from 1993-2012, he taught swim lessons, coached the swim team, and was caretaker of our aquatics facilities. His presence is greatly missed, but his legacy lives on in the children who are welcomed to our pools and the care we take in maintaining and improving the facilities in which they learn. Donate to the Oz Fund here.

Aquatics Scholarships

Aquatics scholarships enable hundreds of families in our lakefront communities to enroll their children in swim lessons. These children, whose families could not otherwise afford the cost, receive life-saving, and potentially life-changing, swim instruction. YWCA provides full or partial swim scholarships to 150 to 200 children annually in our learn-to-swim program, and provides free instruction to another 100-150 children who come with community groups, including Evanston Swims!, the Ted Fund, Fleetwood-Jourdain, Schuler Scholars and TE & Company. As a key partner in Evanston Swims!, the YWCA provides free instruction to all second graders from Bessie Rhodes, King Lab, Lincolnwood, Washington and Walker Schools. 

The Oz Fund enables hundreds of families to afford the cost of life-saving swim instruction for their children. Will you donate the cost of lessons or swim team for a child in need?  Lessons cost $105 for seven weeks, or about $500 for a whole year of swim instruction or swim team participation. 

Aquatics Facilities Improvements

Our aquatics facilities accommodate almost 200 swim lesson groups and 55 swim team practices each week for almost 50 weeks of the year, and we want to keep them safe, clean and up-to-date in order to provide a comfortable and welcoming learning environment. You may not have noticed, but this August we repaired and completely retiled the deck and stairs in the lower pool, and in the coming weeks, we’ll clean and repaint the lower pool area. The deck repairs are part of a series of capital improvements to our aquatics facilities that we have planned over the next several years. Next summer, we’re planning to renovate the women’s locker room and the following summer, we’ll tackle the men’s locker room.

Swimming Stories

Read our swimming stories, from Flying Fish swim staff  for whom learning to swim has had special meaning:



Learn more, get safe, get involved, empower yourself.