Valeria Silva Merea, MD, a laryngologist specializing in head and neck surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, knows how to handle competition. In her days before medicine, she competed on the world stage in the water: as a two-time Olympic swimmer (2004 in Athens and 2008 in Beijing) for her native Peru , a three-time Peruvian national and South American continental record holder for breaststroke events, and a multiple gold medalist at the 2008 South American Swimming Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Explore this issue:April 2019
ENTtoday: How did you become interested in competitive swimming?
Dr. Silva Merea: I learned how to swim when I was pretty young. When I was 5 years old, my parents took my brother and me to get swim lessons. I’m from Lima originally, which is right on the coast, so learning to swim was more of a safety issue rather than just a sport to participate in. But I found I really loved swimming. Soon after, we became members of Club Regatas de Lima, a local leisure/sports club, and I took more advanced swimming lessons there. The club wanted me to be part of its swim team when I was about seven years old. I loved competing with their team—I continued swimming there until I was 22. I also competed for my high school’s swim team in several national and continental junior championships.