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YMCA’s 130+ Years Of Impact: Aquatics With The Selbo Family

PHOTOS BY Hillary Ehlen, Jesse Hoorelbeke and submitted by the YMCA

The YMCA has been making an impact in our community for more than 130 years. For February’s cover story, we met with individuals and families who’ve been a part of the organizations past and present to share stories and hear the reasons why they continue to support the Y.

Aquatics With The Selbo Family

Greg, Pam, Britt and Brock Selbo sat down with us to explain their experience within the YMCA’s Gator program.Their oldest son, Gabe, was also a Gator swimmer but was unable to join in on the interview.

When did your YMCA experience begin?

Greg Selbo: My experience at the Y started with another generation — my dad. He was a Y person and he actually lived at the Y on Robert’s Street. His family had moved to Grand Forks and he wanted to finish high school at Fargo Central, so he lived at the Y when they used to have rooms on the upper level. I became a Y rat somewhere along the way because we went there almost every day for swimming lessons and other activities.

Fargo YMCA Aquatic Center

I was on the swimming team, the Gators, at the Y. I was the oldest of five siblings and we were all swimmers. I probably quit the Gators at age 14 because I swam in high school. From then on, I didn’t participate in Gators, but I still hung out at the Y.

Pam Selbo: My first Y memories are in the old Y attending dances on Friday and Saturday nights. As far as swimming goes, I wasn’t a competitive swimmer. All of my lifeguarding and water safety instructor (WSI) training was through the Y but I guarded with the Park Board. However, I had a friend who lifeguarded at the Y and they didn’t run as tight of a ship as they do now because I’d sub for her occasionally. No one ever asked my name. She must have just paid me on the side.

Britt Selbo: I learned how to swim in the small pool by my parents and also took swimming lessons. I started Gators the summer I turned six and swam all the way through high school. It was year-round — 10 practices a week in the summer, five practices a week during the school year. We were at swim meets every weekend. There was rarely a weekend we weren’t traveling for Gator swim meets. During my senior year of high school, I hurt my shoulder so I started coaching Gators. The spring after my sophomore year, I took my lifeguarding and WSI classes at the Y and then when I moved back to Fargo at age 29, I started a job with the YMCA in financial development. I did this for two years and have now been the Aquatics Director for six and a half years.

Fargo YMCA Aquatic Center

Brock Selbo: I was taught swimming lessons at the Y, as well. I still see one of my teachers from time to time and she still references how she taught me the butterfly. It was, “Kick, kick, wiggle, kick, kick, wiggle.” It’s been 32 years and she still says that whenever I see her. I was the youngest in the family so the Gators had already been a part of the family lifestyle. I got into it the summer I was turning six and absolutely loved it.

What do you love about the Y, specifically with the Gators swimming program?

Brock Selbo: Being brought up within the YMCA community, I feel a desire to help promote it. I’ve been a member since I came back from college. I’ve enjoyed participating in the different events, whether it’s the Paul Harvey Golf Tournament or the Thanksgiving Day Burn the Bird 5k or any other special events the Y puts on.

Greg Selbo: I think Brock is right, and Britt and I were having some of this discussion on the swimming program. When I grew up and when they were growing up, the swimming practices were at the Y. You went to the Y and you hung around for three hours. It was a congregating place and still is.

Britt Selbo: It definitely was. During hours not in school, we were pretty much at the Y all of the time. We would recruit our neighbor friends to be on the team with us and then all of their siblings were on the team. That’s just where we grew up.

Fargo YMCA Aquatic Center

Pam Selbo: Weekends were traveling with the Gators to different swim meets, so you’d be at the swim meet all day and then you’d get back and what did the kids want to do? They wanted to swim in the pool at the hotel — for fun. We always smelled like chlorine.

Greg Selbo: Swimming is a great sport. You have the inter-team relationships but these kids also knew other kids and families all over the state. Plus, the nice thing about swimming is your competitor is next door but it’s even moreso the clock. If I can swim my best time, then I won that race whether I took first or not.

Britt Selbo: It’s fun, too, because swimmers that I swam with, their kids are now taking lessons in our programs. I teach the children of past competitors from other towns, too. The friendships you made at swim meets will last a lifetime.

Written by Kara Jeffers

Fargo Monthly Editor Kara Jeffers is from Garrison, North Dakota, a small town north of Bismarck, North Dakota, on Lake Sakakawea. She graduated from North Dakota State University in May 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in theatre arts. In addition to working at Spotlight Media, Jeffers also works at the Fargo-Moorhead Visitor’s Center, where she’s one of the first people (and, at times, the only person) visitors meet when they arrive in North Dakota—talk about pressure.

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