I met Barbara on a chilly February morning in the lobby of the Darien YMCA, overlooking the pool where she is an avid participant in aquafit classes. I quickly understood why Amy D’Andrea, Director of Aquatics, described her as, “a ray of sunshine that brings joy to everyone she comes in contact with”. Barbara shared with me stories of her childhood in Maine, born at the tail end of the Great Depression and just before World War II, as well as her connection to and love of the Darien YMCA, its staff and her fellow members.
Three mornings a week, you can find Barbara in the pool, moving and grooving in her aqua fitness class. Barbara looks forward to coming to the Y and wakes up every day excited to get in the pool and exercise. As Barbara explains it when she is in the pool, “she feels 80 again!”
Barbara grew up across the street from her father’s alma mater, Bates college, but each summer they escaped the busy campus, spending their summers on a lake in Maine. Her Dad, a traveling textbook salesman wanted to be sure that Barbara, the youngest of three, was safe at the lake. And swimming lessons at the local YMCA, at the age of 6, began Barbara’s lifelong relationship with the YMCA! Living in Connecticut after attending college in New Jersey, Barbara returned to the YMCA in her early 40’s looking to improve her health and fitness. Over the last 40+ years, Barbara has been a member of several Fairfield County Y’s and lucky for us, eight years ago joined our Darien YMCA.
Last summer Barbara was thrilled to return to the Darien YMCA after quarantining with her husband of 47 years, whose friendship and partnership she credits with helping to ease the isolation of the spring. On her first trip to the pool in July, Barbara told us that she was delighted to be back in the pool and, “her legs were already feeling better now that she is able to swim again.” Barbara, like many of our senior members relies on the pool to exercise and stay mobile. “When we brought back water exercise, we knew it was so important to our seniors not only for their physical health, but for their social and emotional well-being” said Amy D’Andrea.
Barbara expressed how thankful she is for the efforts of Amy and Brittany Daniel for keeping members informed and safe and for always making sure that she has her “special spot in the pool”. Barbara feels great joy when she comes to Y, however, we at the Darien YMCA know, “that Barbara brings as much joy to us, as she says we bring to her!”