By Jesika P. Millano
For Al Día Today
PALM BAY – Georgina ‘Geo’ Rodríguez discovered skating as a child and believed she was destined to be a professional skater.
Fate, however, had other plans for her life.
At age 16, a dog crossed Rodríguez’s path as she skated, and, in the process of avoiding it, she broke her right knee. After a year in rehab, she had to leave the skating team at Club Atlético River Plate in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
That difficult experience led her to discover swimming, as she frequently swam for physical therapy to strengthen her leg. It marked a new beginning for her.
“I had to reinvent myself,” Rodríguez says.
“I grew in responsibility and discipline. In the midst of that uncertainty, swimming became my lifestyle. My recovery was not only physical but also mental because swimming helped me to mature on an athletic and personal level,” she explains.
“Now I know that everything happens for a reason.”
At age 20, Rodríguez was certified as a lifeguard for the Argentinian Red Cross and began her career as a swimming instructor. In addition to being a club team coach, she also worked with children with special needs and had dreams of having her own swimming club.
A little over two years ago, Rodríguez settled with her family in Palm Bay.
“My son had moved to the United States to study, so we decided to move to this country as well,” she says.
Once settled, she successfully passed all of the necessary tests to obtain her license as a Water Safety Instructor (WSI) and become a certified lifeguard in this country.
Rodríguez was hired in mid-January as a swim coach and instructor at the Palm Bay Aquatic Center, which reopened to the public under strict biosecurity measures on Jan. 25 with a ribbon-cutting event.
“The Palm Bay pool was the first place I swam when I arrived in this country and, because of that, I am excited to be part of this team. Although the process of learning a new language as an adult is difficult, it is a challenge that I am happy to face,” she says.
Rodríguez also gives private classes to children and young people.
“I am passionate about overcoming the challenges that teaching in a different language entails. Watching students blossom who once had a great fear of the water is the best reward,” she says.
“There are also those who have had a negative experience with water and end up overcoming those obstacles and enjoying swimming. That is the most satisfying and rewarding thing for me. It is amazing to watch others achieve their dreams,” she says.
The Palm Bay Aquatic Center is located at 420 Community College Parkway SE.
The center’s winter hours are from 6 a.m. to noon and 1–5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. Winter hours are effective until Mar. 12.
Local swim teams will use the Aquatics Center on weekday afternoons starting at 5:30 p.m. For more information, call the Palm Bay Aquatic Center at (321) 952-2833.
Geo Rodriguez monitors one of her students during a swimming class. At age 20, Rodríguez was certified as a lifeguard for the Argentinian Red Cross and began her career as a swimming instructor.