The Y’s Synchronized Swimming Started a Lifelong Habit

YMCA member Pat Conrad shares the story of how she started swimming at the YMCA.

“In 1950 I joined the old YMCA on 1st Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids,” Pat Conrad said. She’s been a longtime member of the YMCA. “On Saturdays the Y allowed girls to swim there. It was there that I learned to swim. My mother, Vi Novak, checked us in using a card file from an old metal file box. There was a young man who worked at the main desk. His name was Bob Ellis. He was a Coe College student. Later my mother introduced him to my aunt who was living with us. He would later marry my aunt Phyllis and become my uncle.

“I remember Beulah Gundling, who was a synchronized swimmer. She would practice her routines. She would also try out her latest costume design in the water. Around that time we hand a synchronized water show. It featured Beulah and the girls I swam with. In the picture, you can see our costumes were made of shower curtains. We wore skirts and a ruffle around our necks. I was fascinated to see the costumes Beulah would design for her performances. She was always trying something new that would hold up during her performance. The one I likes best was where she used a metal base from a lamp for a head piece. Some say she attached it as a crown on top of her head. It was pure beauty when she would pop out of the water in a twirl.Thanks to that experience I learned synchronized swimming. Nowadays I swim laps four times a week. It is a good routine to get into.”

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