To the Editor,

   The Madras Aquatic Center, also known as MAC, is one of the few facilities we have in the small town of Madras. The center's main attraction is its two indoor pools, a lazy river, and a 25-yard lap pool.
   From what I know, the facility also has more to offer, such as yoga lessons, fitness workouts like dancing, swim lessons for any age, and its very own swim team.
   I myself, have been attending the MAC since it has been in business and have seen the overall growth it has adapted in this small town. The atmosphere of the facility reminded me why I loved my old home, taught me how to swim, and eventually I signed up for the Madras Swim Team.
   First off, I am very familiar with marine life. I was born and until age 6, raised in Ensenada, Baja California in northwest Mexico. Ensenada is a big city, a tourist attraction, a wine country, and its main commodity is angling.
   Honestly, I was not a huge fan of the ocean or really any source of large water even to the point that I could even be called hydrophobic. I used to live very close to the beach and my family visited it weekly, but I did not like getting in the water. I was found mostly making sand castles and chasing seagulls.
   The cause for this was because I was afraid that something would come up and eat me while I was swimming. It didn't help that I didn't know how to swim and already knew that the beach was known for having sharks.
   The MAC made me forget about it all, though. The water was crystal clear, I could see my feet, friendly life guards were always moderating, and I had no worries of drowning or getting eaten. To me, the atmosphere was great, something totally different than a beach where there wasn't the same help if something was wrong. I quickly learned that it wasn't the water itself that I was afraid of, it was just the fear that I wasn't safe.
   Second, I did not know how to swim properly. I did not have much contact with an indoor pool to really learn how to swim, since all I had was near the beach, which created waves all the time making it hard for me to learn.
   I was signed up for swim lessons at age 10 and honestly didn't want to go in at first. However, when I arrived I was greeted by a young man who later became my teacher. He was very nice and patient as he taught me the basics. He always recognized me for doing a good job at a stroke or technique and that felt good, filled me with confidence even.
   Swim lessons only lasted about 45 minutes, but the last five minutes I was allowed to have free time, which was a very satisfying reward since I could practice what I just learned. I was eager to go learn more each week.
   Finally, at around age 14, I joined the Madras Swim Team. It has been nearly three years since I had any kind of lessons, but when I arrived back, I felt like I was coming back to something I just left off. The Madras Swim Team is a program where you and your team train every day to get better at different swim strokes and eventually compete with other towns and cities that have their own swim team. But if you ask our coach, he will simply tell you, "We swim."
   The team still maintains its friendly charm that the MAC already offers. You will be placed in a squad consisting of bronze, silver, gold and senior.
   Working your way up is no easy task, since you are always challenged by the coach, depending on your skill level.
   The team is full of goals that you push yourself on; for example, you wanting to get a specific time is hard, but is incredibly satisfying when accomplished and I could see this according in life. One of the things that I love about the team is seeing young kids signing up and seeing them go through the same experiences I went through. I have even been told by younger kids that I was like a role model to them and that could bring a smile to anyone's face.
   Overall, I could not put my whole experience with MAC into words. That's why the MAC is to me, not an aquatic center, but an experience. Madras is getting bigger every year, producing a new building that can produce more jobs. I want to look back at Madras for the town that has made me the person I am today, and I hope the next generation can say the same.
   Bryan Bueno
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