The Westside Jewish Community Center (JCC) has announced plans for an Oct. 29 groundbreaking on its Harriet and Jeanette Weinberg Aquatic Center, a $4 million renovation of the center's pools and related areas.
Just a year ago, the Lenny Krayzelburg Swim School, headed by the four-time Olympic gold medalist, opened with fanfare and big ambitions at the Westside Jewish Community Center (JCC), a once lively place that in recent years has been seeking to reinvent itself. Living up to the center's dreams, as of late July, Krayzelburg now has 896 students on his roster.
Ely Pouget had a solid reason for trekking down last week from her home in the Hollywood Hills to the Westside Jewish Community Center (JCC) on Olympic Boulevard. She wanted her twin daughters to take swimming lessons with Olympic gold medalist Lenny Krayzelburg.
When Lenny Krayzelburg immigrated to the United States in 1989, he dreamed of a better future. Krayzelburg, a Ukrainian emigre who would go on to become a four-time Olympic gold medalist, found that future at the Westside Jewish Community Center. Despite his broken English and newness to the country, he said JCC members quickly took him under their wing and immediately made him feel like he had found "a second home."
The Valley Cities Jewish Community Center received a new lease on life this week when its parent organization agreed in principle to sell the center property to a local partnership that will keep the JCC going. Without the agreement, the center could have shut down at the end of June, probably for good.
The parent organization, which is called the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles, said it would accept a $2.7 million bid for the Sherman Oaks property. The condition for this "discounted" price was that any developer must also agree to renovate the JCC building or construct a new facility, insiders said. Four developers are believed to have expressed interest in putting senior housing and a state-of-the-art JCC on the land. A formal purchase offer could materialize by the end of July.
Swimmer Lenny Krayzelburg will go to the Athens Olympic Games, thanks to placing second in his race during the U.S. qualifying trials, a feat greeted with greater acclaim and emotion than his three gold medals in Sydney four years ago.
The first thing you see when you walk through the rear entrance of the Westside Jewish Community Center (WJCC) is the pool where Lenny Krayzelburg used to swim. It's the evening of Sept. 21, and 50 kids are cheering and shouting as they watch a taped Olympic swimming race on a large-screen TV in an upstairs room, its back wall lined with a Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Krayzelburg is on the screen, and he has won his first gold medal for the 100-meter backstroke.
Millions of immigrants have flocked to the United States looking for streets paved with gold. Lenny Krayzelburg, who came to Los Angeles from Odessa, Ukraine, in 1988 is searching for gold as well - but in a pool at Sydney's Olympic Games.