Two members of the YWCA Flying Fish swim team expressed why they swam in the Oz Relay, which honored the late Oswald Roper.

The YWCA Evanston/North Shore held its fourth annual “Relay for Oz” on June 4-5, generating $25,000 for the “Oz Fund,” which provides financial assistance to children in YWCA’s Flying Fish aquatics program. The amount raised is enough to cover a full session of swim lessons for 200 children who might otherwise not have access.

The “Oz Fund” is named for beloved swim coach and instructor Oswald Roper, who died in 2013 after being an integral part of the Flying Fish aquatics program for nearly 20 years.
More than 150 current Flying Fish swimmers, former swimmers, parents, community members, and YWCA staff participated in the event, which was a continuous relay of five lanes of swimmers over a 24-hour period. Swimmers swam in relay “shifts” of 30 minutes or one hour.

“There is no better way to honor Oswald,” said Pete Caragher, YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s aquatics director and head coach of the Flying Fish. “Through the Oz Relay and the Oz Fund, we are able to continually expand our outreach to children who might not otherwise learn to swim or participate in aquatics. Swimming is beneficial in many ways, but in a lakefront community like ours, it’s also an important public health and safety issue.”

Added Karen Singer, CEO of YWCA Evanston/North Shore, “Oswald touched many lives. The willingness of so many people from our staff, the team and our community, some of whom are not regular swimmers, to do something difficult and uncomfortable to raise money for children who don’t have those opportunities, reveals both how loved he was and how connected people are to our mission. It’s a great legacy to Oz.”

YWCA Evanston/North Shore is on a mission to eliminate racism and empower women, and Flying Fish Aquatics aligns with that mission by providing access and inclusion for all. To learn more about Oswald Roper or donate to the Oz Fund, go to