Meet Bruce Shannon: The Aquatics Instructor at the South Side Y

September 12, 2018


Bruce Shannon worked as a lifeguard and aquatics instructor at the South Side YMCA for 18 years. He describes how his childhood memories at the Y shaped his values, “there was no limit at what I could do at the Y.""

Bruce Shannon, a swimming and aquatics instructor at the South Side YMCA, was raised in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, and first joined the Y in the late 1950’s at the age of seven. He joined the YMCA alongside his brothers because it offered them the opportunity to stay active and participate in various sports such as the basketball league. While Bruce’s connection to the Y began early in his life, he still remains an active and dedicated staff member at the South Side Y location today. One of Bruce’s many roles at the Y included working as a lifeguard for more than sixteen years.  

Because of his long tenure at the Y, he has been able to witness firsthand the growth of the organization and the impact it has made in communities throughout Chicago. When asked what keeps him coming back to the Y, he states it is the feeling of “being part of a family.” His work at the Y allows him to remain active, contribute to the success of the Y’s programs, and gain the “social satisfaction” of helping others. Working with organizations such as the Y is important to Bruce because he strongly believes in family and community focused values. Throughout his eighteen years of working at the South Side Y he believes he has been able to make a great impact in the lives of the members and community.

On any given Monday you may find Bruce at the South Side YMCA location leading an aquatics class with an emphasis on arthritis and multiple sclerosis. During his sessions, he focuses on getting members stretching and moving through different muscle and endurance building exercises. Bruce explains that swimming programs are equally as effective in keeping both children and older members active and engaged. “This is a major place for older people to go”, he says that the Y’s ability to tailor to the needs of members of all ages is what makes the organization special. It may come as a surprise that although Bruce has extensive experience in aquatics, he did not learn to swim until he was a junior in college studying physical education. This fun fact about Bruce further supports his belief that getting active and involved in community organizations is possible for everyone regardless of their age.