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Almanac: The Greenwich Family YMCA

The Greenwich Family YMCA is a place where residents can focus on a healthy mind, body and spirit. It offers a range of family activities and a state-of-the-art aquatics center.

Built in 1916 with a donation of $100,000 from Mrs. Rebecca Witherell, the Greenwich Family Y is now on the National Register of Historic Places and considered one of the most beautiful YMCAs in the country. In 1950, YMCA volunteer Joe Sobek invented racquetball in Greenwich. His development was an alternative to tennis and handball. In 1954, a benefactor gave Calf Island to the YMCA, where it began offering children's programs.

In 1998, the Y announced a $10 million "Renaissance Plan" for an Olympic-size pool and a new gymnasium. The 82-year-old building needed repairs and an expansion. Programs on Calf Island ended in 1997, when they could no longer break even. In 2003, the federal government obtained the island for $6 million and it became part of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. By 2010, the renovation budget had ballooned to $41 million and the Y was forced to halt construction on the 96,000-square-foot pool-gym building .

More than 1,000 members pass through the doors of the new Wellness Center each week. The center has 70 pieces of cardio and strength-training equipment ranging from bikes to elliptical cross trainers.

The Y also gives back to the community in a variety of ways. The pool serves as a site for Navy Seal strength, stamina and combat training programs. For those less fortunate, the Y offers close to $300,000 in scholarships for childcare. In 2008, over 200 children were enrolled in the Y's childcare and after-school programs.

The Greenwich YMCA is located at 50 E. Putnam Ave. It is open Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (203) 869-1630.

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