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At a ceremony at the YWCA Evanston/North Shore on what would have been Oswald “Oz” Roper’s birthday, his family, friends and co-workers honored his 20 year legacy with the Flying Fish Aquatics program by renaming the Aquatics Scholarship Fund in his name. It will now be called the “Oz Fund,” and contributions may be directed toward either aquatics scholarships or improvements to the YWCA’s aquatics facilities. The fund will be the recipient of a significant contribution from the Oswald Roper Memorial Fund established by his family and friends.
Oswald would have been 60 years old last week, but he died in January, six months before his 20th anniversary as a swim instructor and coach and 9 months shy of his sixtieth birthday. In addition to his role as Assistant Aquatics Director, Oz had an office in the pump room in the basement, and he managed the aquatics facilities.
“Oz would have been a fan of the fund,” remarked Pete Caragher, Director of Flying Fish Aquatics. “He was passionate about swim lessons, and he was also a passionate caretaker of our facilities.”
“I am proud to be part of an organization that is doing this is his name,” said Karen Singer, President and CEO of the YWCA Evanston/North Shore. “We strongly believe every child should learn to swim, and it has always been our commitment to provide swim instruction for every child in our lakefront community. That meant a lot to Oz, who came from Jamaica where he grew up swimming at the beach. Oz would also have been proud that we’re focused on our facilities, because they meant a lot to him and we need to continue to create a better environment for all kids to learn to swim.”
The YWCA provides full or partial swim scholarships to 150 to 200 children annually, and provides free instruction to another 100-150 children who come with community groups, including Evanston Swims!, the Ted Fund, Fleetwood-Jourdain, and TE & Company.
About YWCA Flying Fish Aquatics
With 1300 children in the learn-to-swim program and over 500 swimmers on the team, Flying Fish Aquatics is one of the biggest aquatics programs in Illinois. 175 Learn-to-Swim classes are offered each week in two pools, taught by consistent, professional adult instructors in small classes.
With both competitive and non-competitive tracks, the team has swimmers competing at the highest levels, but also accommodates swimmers who are primarily interested in recreation and fitness, providing a healthy outlet for children who are not ready to commit to the intensity of competitive swimming.
As a Make A Splash partner, Flying Fish Aquatics actively reaches out to members of the community who might not otherwise have an opportunity to learn to swim or to participate on the swim team, and provides thousands of dollars of aquatics scholarships each year to families who cannot afford the cost of lessons for their children.
The YWCA Flying Fish are also committed to regularly supporting our community. All team members are encouraged to participate in community service projects and fundraising activities, and the team annually raises about $100,000 through the swim marathon to support all of the programs and services of the YWCA Evanston/North Shore.