NILES, Mich. – If you’ve taken swim lessons at the YMCA during the past four decades, chances are you’ve had Andre Gresham with you in the pool. On Tuesday, December 17, ‘Mr. Andre’ will celebrate 40 years with the Y where he has worked as a lifeguard, sports director, membership director, aquatics director, swim and lifeguard instructor, and more.
After working as a day camp counselor and volunteering his time to swim lesson instruction and swim team, Andre officially began his career at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA in 1979 as a lifeguard while he was in high school. When he attended Eastern Michigan University to pursue his degree, he took his talents to the Ann Arbor YMCA where he continued lifeguarding and began teaching swim lessons. After school, Andre returned back to the YMCA of Southwest Michigan where he has remained ever since.
“He is most likely famous for teaching the majority of youth in our community to swim and be safe around water,” said Denise Peters, Chief Operating Officer, YMCA of Southwest Michigan. “Andre is loved by so many and the Y would not be what it is today without his love and commitment to the kids, families, YMCA team, and this community to do good.”
It is estimated that he has taught over 17,000 youth to swim over the past 40 years and that he still continues to teach over 700 youth in southwest Michigan each year through outreach swim, 2nd grade swim with Niles Community Schools, Learning Tree Preschool students, Mariners Swim Team, day camps, group, private, and semi-private swim lessons, homeschool swim, the Y’s Healthy U program, Just for You adaptive swim lessons, and more.
“The passion Andre has in the water is unlike anything I have ever seen,” said Sammee Schaller, Aquatics Director, YMCA of Southwest Michigan. “Each and every day he walks in with a smile, ready to get in the water. If you have taken swim lessons with him, consider yourself blessed because Andre is simply the best.”
Those interested in congratulating Andre on his YMCA anniversary or sharing stories of how he has impacted them can add a message, photo, or video to an online site the Y set up at http://bit.ly/AndreKudos (case sensitive).