Silvia now swims with her family. That might not sound like big news—but it is. The wife and mother of two didn’t know how to swim and was afraid of the water. One thing Silvia was determined to make sure of as a result? Her daughters Lupe and Luci would learn how to swim. And they did. From the age of 4, both girls took swim lessons at the Madison Area YMCA when they were in preschool at the F.M. Kirby Children’s Center of the Y. 

Silvia’s learning-how-to-swim story began one day when she had a free morning and decided to watch Luci at her swim lesson. “She was doing so great,” says Silvia, of the now 5-year-old kindergartner who can swim a length of the pool. “I was talking to my 9 year old about how well her younger sister was doing in the water and then Lupe said to me, ‘Mom, it’s your turn now.’”  

As Silvia contemplated the idea, she wondered if she could learn to swim at her age. Lisa Shannon, the Y’s aquatics director, assured her that she could and that it would be life-changing. “We all make sure our kids are safe and do all we can for them, but Silvia knew she had to learn to swim and do this for herself,” says Lisa. 

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Silvia signed up for 10 weeks of lessons, noting that she was embarrassed and nervous. Lupe and Luci’s encouragement was priceless. “They told me not to be afraid,” says Silvia. “I still wasn’t convinced I should do it but then I met other moms who signed up for lessons that felt the same way I did,” she says. “The four of us took lessons and learned to swim,” she says with a smile. 

And then, Silvia signed up again. “I was improving, so I wanted more,” she says, adding “I overcame my fears. The girls began to say, “My mom floats!” laughs Silvia.   

Now, Silvia and her husband Carlos frequently come to the Madison Area Y with their daughters for family swim time and fun in the water. “Before I learned how to swim, I would be sitting and watching everyone,” Silvia says, noting that knowing how to swim for safety around water is extremely important. Before she could swim, Silvia wasn’t comfortable taking her daughters to water activities unless her husband was present.

Acknowledging that mothers are always making sure their kids get everything they need, Silvia says, “We have to think about ourselves and what we can accomplish. It feels so good to do things for ourselves every once in a while.” 

Silvia, Lupe and Luci continue to take weekly swim lessons at the Y. It’s a highlight in their week. Silvia also spreads the word that adults should learn how to swim!