A 13-year-old Fort Worth swimmer is launching a campaign to encourage other kids to learn water safety to prevent drownings.
No matter the weather, the water is where Madison Huertas wants to be.
“It’s so relaxing to me, almost calming, because when you’re in the water, you don’t have to think about anything else,” said Huertas.
But Huertas, 13, is one thoughtful kid. She learned to swim just a few years ago after she was inspired by watching Missy Franklin compete in the 2012 Olympics.
“I was afraid of the water until I was 8 years old,” Huertas said.
Now, she is a competitive swimmer, and she has another mission to get other kids and grown-ups to learn how to be safe in the pool.
She has launched a public campaign, writing articles, and she plans to start a non-profit to help with swim lessons and advocate for lifeguards at apartment pools.
“Every time I turn on the news, [I see] another drowning in an apartment complex,” said Huertas.
Her mom, Jutta Lingmann, is helping too. She says her daughter came to her with the idea after hearing about drowning deaths in Fort Worth over Memorial Day weekend.
“After I think a four-year-old and a six-year-old drowned, she went on a rant, and she said, we need to change,” said Lingmann.
Other organizations also push for water safety, but Madison believes the message is different when it comes from a kid. She wants to tell kids not to be afraid of the water and that anyone can learn how to swim. She wants water education to be included in the curriculum at Texas public schools.
“I can bring a completely different perspective of a younger person, not the perspective of a 30-year-old,” said Huertas. “I’m 13.”