Town North YMCA - Dallas, Texas
A short history of its Aquatic Program

by Lloyd Cates

Jack Semones founded the Town North YMCA in Dallas in 1958. It started in an old 7-11 store at Hillcrest and Forest Lane.

TNY moved from the 7-11 to a new building on Northaven Road. The next major construction was not a gym but an indoor swimming pool. Jack was very interested in starting a good aquatics program. 

Jack created the most advanced aquatic program in Dallas. Town North Y had swimming instruction for all ages, competitive swimming teams, lifeguarding lessons, sailing and SCUBA classes. Jack was also the first to integrate a swim meet in Dallas. 


Jack took us on diving trips to the Bahamas and Hawaii. But we learned SCUBA in swimming pools and murky Lake Dallas, Possum Kingdom and Lake Travis. 

It was the SCUBA diving that I was most interested in. Jacques Cousteau wrote The Silent World in 1953 and the television show Sea Hunt with Lloyd Bridges came out in 1958. Under the sea looked like heaven to me. Jack Semones started one of the first SCUBA diving clubs in Dallas. It was so new, that the only place we could fill our tanks with air and buy equipment was at a taxidermy business in downtown Dallas. Back then, we did not even have to have a license to dive. 

Jack quickly learned enough about the sport of diving to start teaching us. We all learned as we went along. We started in the classroom and then practiced in swimming pools. 

The first SCUBA classes outside of a pool were at Lake Dallas. But we could not see more than a couple of feet underwater even back when the lake was new. He also took us on a road trip to Lake Travis in Austin which was not much better. 

The next big step was going to a SCUBA camp at Camp Grady Spruce on Possum Kingdom Lake. Camping, swimming, diving, sailing was the highlight of my summer. 

Then finally, Jack took the SCUBA group to the Bahamas and Hawaii. We also learned to surf in Hawaii. Those are some of the greatest memories I have ever had. Great friends, hunting fresh lobster for dinner, Teddy Galbraith and I getting chased by a shark, pretty girls in bikinis and having a great leader in Jack Semones.

1960 Dallas Times Herald article on Town North YMCA SCUBA program