SSYMCA Strypers Swim Team Makes a Splash for Inclusion

Posted: Oct. 01, 2018

Bernie Dickman has been coaching for over 32 years. A recent recipient of the Creative Coaching Award through the American Swim Coaches Association, Coach Dickman has trained children of all ages from across the country, and now leads the competitive swim program at the South Shore YMCA.

Each week, swimmers at every level from beginners up through USA Swimming Scholastic All-Americans gather from across the South Shore to practice as one unified SSYMCA Strypers Swim Team under Coach Dickman and her staff. And for over a year now, this team has also included the “Green Group,” an inclusion group, as part of its roster.

“At the end of the day, the kids in our Green Group are part of our competitive program just like anyone else. We expect the same level of competitiveness from them because they’re judged the same as everybody else when it comes to a meet. Provided they have the basics down after a brief swim assessment, they’re welcomed to get involved and join our team.”

The Green Group is not a separate entity from the Strypers competitive swim team. They are members of the team, plain and simple, forming one of many groups under the Strypers banner. While they enjoy hanging out together, it’s not in isolation. They are peers and are treated as such.

“We have several swimmers who have gone on to integrate into our regular practice groups, allowing them additional chances to participate with the broader team,” said Dickman. “One of the main goals with our inclusion group is to offer the opportunity to swim competitively to anyone who wants to be a part of our team, regardless of their abilities.”

As part of the South Shore YMCA, the Strypers aim to embody the YMCA’s four core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. With these in mind, Dickman and her coaches set out to develop the individual swimmer, no matter which group they belong to, to be successful both in swimming and in life.

“It’s one of the most diverse teams I’ve ever been a part of,” shared SSYMCA Assistant Director of Competitive Swim, Tim Anderson. “It’s humbling because everyone’s coming from different walks of life that they show up and they’re all on the same page working toward the same goal. Our team’s non-exclusivity is one of the many things that make our Y’s competitive swim program unique.”

According to Dickman, a goal for the SSYMCA’s competitive swim program is to help the team, both the Green Group and overall, continue to grow.

“The South Shore Y’s motto is ‘The Better You Belongs Here’ and I was excited when I learned that, because every single member of our team has been living that on a daily basis,” said Dickman. “While we’re at practice, we ask our team members to come in each day and be a better you, so that we can be a better team. The other thing we instill in our kids, no matter which group they’re in, is if they want to take the easy path, or the better path? And we’re constantly working with them to choose that better path.”

For more information on the South Shore YMCA’s Strypers competitive swim team, or on the team’s Green Group, please contact Bernie Dickman, Director of Competitive Swimming, at, or Tim Anderson, Assistant Director of Competitive Swimming , at