My Incredible Experience Volunteering As A Swimming Teacher For 4 Years With My Winning Team
For the ones that do not know me, I am Andrea Larraya, People Partner for Iberia.
During the well-feeling month, I wanted to share with you an incredible experience that I had as a swimming teacher volunteer for ADISLI, an incredible association based in Madrid, which helped me tremendously.
It is true that I have always tried to volunteer for different causes during my life on special occasions (helping older people, annual food collections…), but due to quite many changes in my life due to foreign studies or traveling for work, I could never engage myself 100% on a regular basis.
This is why when I landed in Madrid in 2015, I started looking for an association where I could help others by sharing my expertise. And I found a great fit: swimming teacher every week on Saturday mornings!
I thought it was going to be easy…on my first day, the coordinator came with me so he could introduce me to the group: what a surprise when I saw myself at 11 am in front of a group of more than 10 ladies and gentlemen staring at me, screaming, playing in the water; everything except swimming 🙂 The first weeks were quite hard as the swimming levels were not assessed, some could swim perfectly, and others could not even advance 1 meter! I even needed to jump into the water with some of them while running the training session with the others. I decided that I needed to assess their levels so I could divide the 2 groups; but adding to their swimming skills, I also needed to take into account their disabilities. And as we know, every person is a completely different world! Then I decided to work a lot on creating safe and trusted relationships with them and with their parents.
To be honest, after your intense week of work, you only want to rest during your Saturday morning; but even if I felt exhausted after 2h of training, I must admit that the energy and the “true life lessons” these people gave me, have been unmatched.
You think that when you are volunteering, you will be giving, which is completely true but trust me, I have received much more than what I gave! It is so rewarding to see how much a person can improve in such a short period of time, and their smile on their face, or their parents’ face when they win a ride is just priceless!
Due to my passion for helping the team to keep on improving and having fun at the same time, in 2016, I was selected to go to the nationals with the Madrid swimming team. We went for 4 days to Cadiz, all together to compete against the rest of Spain’s communities. It was an incredible experience!
I had the chance to volunteer for 4 years with them. I stopped doing it as I needed to move to another country due to my work. And trust me, it was really hard to say goodbye. I created such strong relationships with the team and their parents, that on my last day I was crying like a baby girl.
I can’t wait to settle again and find another association for me to keep on growing as a human being. Trust me, with only 2h per week, you can change some people’s lives; but most importantly, the “feeling” is just incredible.
Volunteering has helped me grow as a person, realize what really matters, always be in a positive mindset, and stay active! This is why I really encourage YOU to volunteer! Do not hesitate and Go for it!