Rye Y Story Project: Richard O.

RichardI believe it was 1960 when I joined the Rye Y. I was an avid handball player. And the Y was the place. We had to use the basketball court in the gym, which was in the old wooden building. We’d pull the basket up and I’d play with a guy, Joe O’Brien—he used to work here for many, many years—and he was a good handball player. He had bow-legs but he could move around the court like a weasel. And then every night I would swim in this tiny little pool. That’s the only pool we had.

I have five kids. And they all went to camp. And the kids and the camp were marvelous. We’d go up to see them and they didn’t even recognize us anymore. They were in another world. It was wonderful.

Now, I swim. That’s exclusively what I do. I don’t do any athletics or anything like that.

The Y has always been friendly, which is nice because you meet people here and it enlarges your life. It gets you away from your wife! [Laughs heartily]. No, she’s just glad to get me away. I’m just kidding around. She’s a wonderful girl.

But that’s about the size of it. I have to thank Pat [MacCarthy] for bringing me over here. I appreciate it. I’m here every day that I can. I stay away on Saturdays; it’s too crowded. A crowded pool is not a relaxing pool. I paddle along for a half an hour every day. It makes a difference in my life. In fact, I’m a different person when I come back! I’m more patient. I’m more calm. The reward is huge. When I finish, I feel all these wonderful things happening.

I used to swim over at SUNY Purchase in the morning and the evening. Today, I swim at the beach in the morning in the summertime and I swim at the Y in the afternoon. I’m 94 years old. I’m not really that old. [Laughs]. I don’t think I am! I don’t see any limits.