Hi there, my name is Ms. Lya (lee-ah)! I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and raised in the Sunshine State, Florida. I enjoy food crawls (trying lots of different types of food from lots of different places in one afternoon), quality time with my loved one,s and scratching things off my bucket list. Two fun facts about me: I was Florida’s 2012 Girls’ Wrestling State Champ for the 152lb division; and I also swam competitively in high school, landing a spot in Districts with my 100-yard breaststroke.
I have worked in and around water my entire life. I was first introduced to professions in Aquatics by my father; he was in the Scuba Diving business. I enjoyed being around the water so much that I became my father’s little assistant during his diving lessons. I even got to tag along on some cool expeditions to see Puerto Rico’s most beautiful coral reefs.
My father always encouraged me to find a career that allowed me to pursue my passions. He told me, “find a hobby for a job and you will never have to work a day in your life. If you would do it for free, then you are already there!” At that time, I was a lifeguard at LEGOLAND, trying to find ways to grow within the company. With LEGOLAND, I completed my first Lifeguarding training. It was the coolest training I’ve ever taken. Lifeguarding was like second nature to me, and I wanted to help others by training them as lifeguards, in everything from swimming and rescuing, to helping them perform CPR and First Aid. I so enjoyed giving back and coaching others on my team that I wanted to find more ways to help.
The next summer, I decided to challenge myself and apply for an Aquatics Manager position at the local city pool and I landed the job! Running a city pool required me to wear many hats. One of those was as a Water Safety Instructor. I remember my very first water safety class; I taught a special abilities child who was autistic and afraid of the water. Mom expressed that she only wanted her son to have fun in the water and feel comfortable. After three consecutive weeks of swimming lessons, he was having fun, but he also learned how to safely jump in the water, swim about 10 feet out, and return to the wall safely. From that moment on, I knew it was my mission to be a swimming instructor because of the passion that I put into teaching and knowing that I could make a change in someone’s life.
I am proud to say that I teach a life skill that many people will carry for the rest of their lives. I will continue to save lives, one lesson at a time.