Suzana Delgado-Gray is the Executive Director of the Grand Prairie Family YMCA. She bravely learned to swim two years ago at the facility she leads. In honor of Water Safety Month, enjoy her story about learning to swim at the Y. This content was originally published by the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas' blog.
Pictured from left to right: Suzana, Nicole, and Ruth.
"Growing up there were not many opportunities for me or my family to be near or have access to a pool, so therefore we had no real perceived need to learn how to swim. However, one day my dad's company had a family picnic at Lockheed Martin and there was a HUGE pool. It looked awesome and seeing people jump in and out with ease was appealing to 10-year-old me. Not knowing how to swim, my mom cautioned us to stay in the three-foot water area. Well my older siblings ventured out to the deep end and being the little sister, I followed. I tried my best to keep some distance between me and the pool, but my brother thought it would be more fun to push me in and in I went! Not having the skills to swim, I started to panic and sink when a lifeguard jumped in to save me. This was the last time my body was fully immerged in a pool. From that day on I was officially scared of the water.
Fast forward to 2019 when I decided to set out and learn how to swim. My husband and my two teenage boys are swimmers, and I was determined to not be the only one left out in the family.
I signed up for lessons at the Grand Prairie YMCA and met my instructor, Nicole, and another woman, Ruth, from Kenya who was also learning how to swim. Our fear quickly bonded us. In the coming days we learned to blow bubbles, kick out feet, and move our arms. Not only that but we learned how to relax in the water and float on our back all in three days. I was really starting to feel good in the water!
On day five of swim lessons I was told to step in the 11 feet water to test my skills. My anxiety, fear and flashbacks were all coming back. I started tearing up and was scared. It was Janet's, our aquatic supervisor, confidence in me that made me believe in myself. She said, “Suzana I have seen you use your skills in four feet water and you’re ready! YOU ARE READY!”
Was I really? There was only one way to find out. As I eased into the 11 feet edge holding on to dear life, I let go of the wall. I let go of my fear. I let go of my anxiety. I started using my skills and I was SWIMMING! Now I won't mention the tears, the doubt, the begging and pleading to Janet that I was NOT ready! It was her trust in my ability that forced me to use my skills. I wouldn't call myself a swimmer, but I no longer fear the water all because of the skills I now have through my swim lessons at the Y."
Written by: Suzana Delgado-Gray