2023 YNats Marks 100 Years Since the First Championship in Brooklyn


By Braden Keith on SwimSwam

2023 YMCA Short Course National Championships

  • April 3-7, 2023
  • Greensboro Aquatic Center, Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Short Course Yards (25 yards), Prelims/Finals
  • Meet Central
  • Psych Sheets
  • Research by Paul Atkinson contributed to this report

The YMCA is celebrating the 100 Centennial year of the YMCA Short Course National Championships next week in April, celebrating 100 years since the first meet was held on May 19, 2023 at the Brooklyn Central Branch YMCA.

That original meet included 7 individual events and a relay, includinga 150 yard backstroke and Fancy Diving event, two disciplines that are no longer offered at the championship. As the championship has evolved, the size has grown too:

10 YMCAs from four states and one Canadian providence participated in the inaugural meet 100 years ago, and only the times of the winners were officially recorded.

The meet waswon by the hosts, who scored 52 points in a dominant performance. Only four of the ten participating teams wound up scoring points, and only boys participated:

Team Standings:

  • Central Brooklyn YMCA (New York) – 52
  • Central Parkway YMCA (Cincinnati) – 25
  • Buffal0 YMCA – 3
  • West End YMCA (Toronto) – 1

Race Results:

50 Yard Free (1 turn)

  1. Louis Rutledge, Central Parkway YMCA – 26.3/5
  2. Alfred Brown Jr., Central Brooklyn YMCA
  3. Louis Helwig, Central Brooklyn YMCA

100 Yard Free (3 turns)

  1. Harry Louis, Central Brooklyn YMCA – 53.3/5*
  2. Louis Rutledge, Central Parkway YMCA
  3. Chauncy Croll, Buffalo YMCA

220 Yard Free (8 turns)

  1. Arthur Hastings, Central Brooklyn YMCA – 2:38.4/5*
  2. Ed Vogele, Central Parkway YMCA
  3. Cornell Braisted, Central Brooklyn YMCA

440 Yard Free (17 turns)

  1. Harry Lewis, Central Brooklyn YMCA – 5:59.3/5*
  2. Louis Rutledge, Central Parkway YMCA
  3. Edmund Gillis, Central Brooklyn YMCA

200 Yard Breast Stroke (7 Turns)

  1. H. Altheimer, Central Parkway YMCA – 2:54.4/5*
  2. Victor Kiffe, Central Brooklyn YMCA
  3. Hugh Robinson, Central Broolyn YMCA

150 Yard Back Stroke (5 Turns)

  1. Victor Kiffe, Central Brooklyn YMCA – 1:53.2/5*
  2. James Hill Jr, Central Brooklyn YMCA
  3. Thomas Walker, West End YMCA (Toronto)

Fancy Diving

  1. Joseph Kreuttner, Central Brooklyn YMCA
  2. Thomas Gonsalves, Central Brooklyn YMCA
  3. Theodore Smith, Central Brooklyn YMCA

400 Yard Free Style Relay (5 Turns)

  1. Central Brooklyn YMCA (Louis Helwig, James Hall Jr, Alfred Brown, Harry Lewis) – 4:06.4/5
  2. Central Parkway YMCA (Ed Vogele, Russ Webb, H. Altheimer, Louis Rutledge)
  3. Buffaly YMCA (McColgan, Schuchert, Mason, Chauncy Croll)

Five of the six swims were marked as YMCA National Records (*).

YMCA historian Paul Atkinson indicates that the race of the night was the 100 freestyle, where Harry Louis and Louis Rutledge raced back-and-forth, with Louis ultimately winning by inches.

Girls first had a championship in 1967 (remember, YMCA used to stand for Young MEN’S Christian Association), and the two meets were combined into one in 1971. When the YMCA was first founded in London in 1844, it was open only to men. By the late 1850s at the Brooklyn Branch, the YMCA began working with women in unpaid roles, and it wasn’t until 1886 when Ellen Brown became the first female YMCA employee, serving as the “boy’s work secretary.”

In 1933, the National Council of YMCAs in the US began allowing local Y associations to admit female members, though it wouldn’t be until 1957 that the YMCA formally incorporated women and girls into their purpose statement.

1978 was the year when the YMCA formally outlawed discrimination against women and girls in the organization, 11 years after the first girls’ swimming championship was held.

From those original 10 teams, the field has now grown to over 200 teams and more than 1,300 athletes competing. After canceling the 2020 championship meet for the first time since 1947, the meet has returned to full force – with equal-or-greater fields than in 2019.

From those original 7 events, there are now 19 per gender for 38 total, and for the first time in 2023, there will be a “D” final.

While most clubs participating in this year’s YMCA National Championships are dual-sanctioned with USA Swimming, the growth of the meet shows the YMCA’s continued importance in the sport – not only in athlete development, but as a provider of a massive global network of competitive swimming pools.


SwimSwam: 2023 YNats Marks 100 Years Since the First Championship in Brooklyn

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