Fremont is home to largest YMCA in America

Posted at 10:23 AM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 11:23:58-04

FREMONT, Neb. (KMTV) — In the United States, 10,000 communities have a YMCA. The largest of them all is in Fremont, Nebraska.

Member Dick Richards works out every day. The 75-year-old veteran and kidney transplant recipient's routine includes 25 laps and 300 push-ups. Richards has another number in his sights.

"I want to live to be 100. There's a lady in Omaha who's 115, and that's my next step. If I can get to 100, I'll shoot for 115," he said.

Richards has lots of amenities from which to choose. The Fremont Family YMCA comes in at 265,000 square feet. It features an Olympic-sized pool, Olympic-sized ice arena, four full-size gyms, five indoor tennis courts, a wellness center, gymnastics center, indoor turf room and more.

"A lot of people don't believe it. They say, 'how big is Fremont?'" President and CEO Jerry Rinne shared.

Fremont is home to about 26,000 people. Its YMCA has 7,500 members.

"You can do a lot of stuff under one roof. Where you don't have to take a child here, take a child there," Rinne said.

He got his start at the Fremont Family YMCA as an intern in 1988. He's rightfully proud of how they've grown because it represents how the Y has grown to mean more to the community.

"We have a no-youth-denied program, because Fremont does have one of the highest free and reduced lunch in the state of Nebraska, like 65% to 70% of the kids get free and reduced lunch," Rinne said.

Donations and partnerships allow them to provide for all kids in Fremont. One example is SwimMates.

"We have a lot of open body water, state lakes here in Fremont. There's a lot of lakes. And one thing is keeping kids safe and keeping families safe. So, we came up with a plan. How about let's see if we can teach every first-grade student how to swim and water safety?" Rinne said of the program.

Similar initiatives introduce kids to hockey and basketball.

However, the two most accomplished Fremont Family YMCA alums came from gymnastics and volleyball: 1996 Olympic alternate Soni Meduna and three-time Olympic medalist Jordan Larson respectively.

Rinne said future expansion isn't currently planned. Instead, they'll focus on improvements and efficiencies.

The second-largest YMCA in the United States is also in Nebraska — in Norfolk.

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