Aquatic Sports at the Town North YMCA

By Lloyd Cates 

Jack Semones founded the Town North YMCA (TNY) in Dallas in 1958. In the next few years, he created the most advanced aquatic program in Dallas. TNY had swimming instruction for all ages, competitive swimming teams, life-saving lessons, SCUBA and sailing classes. My brothers and I tried all these sports. 

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 a place I wanted to explore. 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 the pool at our house

A book and a movie that changed my life.

The first SCUBA classes outside of a pool were at our family’s lake property at what is now Highland Village in Lewisville. 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. 

That is Jack Semones in the T-shirt and me on the right.

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 got chased by a shark, pretty girls in bikinis and having a great leader in Jack Semones. 

TNY-scuba-boat Hawaii-3a.jpg



Dallas Times Herald 1960