Wayne YMCA’s Nationwide Search for Aquatics Director Nets Local Man

January 3, 2016

Ben Mihalko began swimming for ‘something to do’ in his sleepy hometown outside Pittsburgh, and by age 9 he was doing it competitively at his local YMCA.

“The YMCA gave me a love for swimming,’’ said Mihalko, who will join the Wayne YMCA on Jan. 11 as its aquatics director.

“Ben comes to us with a wealth of experience in the aquatics field,’’ said Wayne YMCA Executive Director Justin Ihne. A nationwide search culminated in the hiring of the Wayne resident, Ihne noted.“We are very excited to have him join the Wayne Y team.”

Mihalko, 32, has been working for YMCAs since his college days at Penn State University. His boss, the aquatics director at the State College YMCA, “planted the seed that the Y was a good place to build a career,’’ said Mihalko, who earned his bachelor’s degree in music theory.

Starting as a lifeguard and swim instructor, he went on to become an assistant aquatics director at three YMCAs. He landed his first job as an aquatics director at a Y in Abington, Pennsylvania in 2006. For the past six years, he has run the aquatics programs at the Upper Bucks County YMCA, managing a staff of 56.

“One of the things I like best about the job is helping the lifeguards and swim instructors learn to be responsible and make decisions,’’ Mihalko said. “I was grateful for the guidance I received when I was young.”

Mihalko said he looks forward to helping the Wayne Y grow. “The Wayne Y has tremendous potential for more community involvement,’’ he said.

In addition to his love of swimming, Mihalko enjoys dancing: he was a member of the Penn State Ballroom Team, a fact few people know. The Viennese waltz and samba are among his favorite styles.

These days when he’s not working, Mihalko is spending time with his wife, Joanne, their 3-year-old daughter, Allie, and their 4-month-old son, Noah.


Established in 1885, the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges is the largest association of YMCAs in New Jersey, serving more than 35,000 individuals and providing more than $1.2 million in financial assistance. Its six YMCAs, located in East Orange, Livingston, Maplewood, Hardyston, Stillwater and Wayne, are committed to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living, and fostering a sense of social responsibility. They offer an array of programs that build spirit, mind and body for people of all ages and all circumstances.