A letter from Denise Lam


Sage YMCA Piranhas
Letter to Sage Piranha Families from Denise Lam

Please see below note from Denise Lam: 




August 6, 2020


Dear Sage Piranha Families,


I am writing to provide clarity about our plans for the Sage YMCA Swim Team.   These are very challenging and emotional times for all of us, and we understand how a change to the way things are usually done may cause some confusion. 


Please be reassured that the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago has absolutely no intention of eliminating or permanently reducing the Sage YMCA Swim Team. You may have read things to the contrary. That commentary risks the positive morale of our young talented swimmers . We are incredibly proud of our swim team and their accomplishments in recent years and will do everything possible to help them keep up this momentum. 


That is why we sent out a communication on Friday, July 31, regarding new arrangements for getting the team back into the pool for practice. The plan prioritizes the health and safety of our swimmers above all else. It is our responsibility to safeguard our members, program participants, and staff at all times, and it is something that we take very seriously. Our firm belief is that we must all make sacrifices during these unprecedented times and do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19.


The plan for commencing Swim Team practice was finalized on Thursday, July 30, after the Governor’s guidelines on youth sports were released on Wednesday, July 29. We chose to wait for official guidance before completing our plan for the Swim Team. The following day,  Sage Y Executive Director, Jordan Bley, promptly communicated the Sage arrangements to parents. 


Since reopening the Sage Y on July 1, we gradually resumed programming at a fraction of our usual capacity (30% in most cases) due to safety restrictions. Nevertheless, we are proud to invite more than half of the original number of the Swim Team back to the Sage Y pool. The decision to bring back a reduced number of swimmers (from 220 to 120 swimmers) is temporary and based entirely on child safety concerns. We believe this gradual approach to reopening is being adopted by most places, including restaurants, salons, and fitness clubs, and the Y is no different. We continue to assess our reopening plan daily, especially when the number of COVID-positive cases in places like McHenry County appears to be rising.


The National YMCA Swimming, USA Swimming, and Illinois Swimming have yet to decide if swim meets will go ahead in Illinois this year. If they do, and assuming we are reassured that they can conduct the competitions safely, we see no reason why qualifying members of the Sage YMCA Swim Team would not participate. Nothing would make us more proud.


Furthermore, Coach Ed Richardson informed us this past weekend that he has decided to resign his position as coach of the Sage YMCA Swim Team. We are thankful for Coach Ed’s accomplishments, including bringing home both the boys and girls state championship in 2019. We wish him well in all his future endeavors. 


In the interim, the swim team will be led this fall by the Sage Aquatics Director, Ursula Buol, who has extensive Y swim coaching experience. We will keep you informed once more permanent personnel decisions have been made for the post-pandemic era.


We ask that our members and program participants please bear with us in hopes that things will improve and that the state's restrictions will be relaxed in a way that allows us to get back on track rapidly and to full capacity. I assure you that we share the urgent desire to return to normal.




Denise Lam

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago