At FLOW Aquatics, we’re one big happy family—sometimes literally! Meet Coach Kathie, mom to Coach Hailee and to Christopher, who works as one of our Pilot Fish (helping our students prepare for their classes and providing general assistance).
When it comes to teaching, Coach Kathie is a natural, too. In addition to being a part of our team at FLOW, she has worked for Boise Public Schools for five years, starting out as a volunteer in a school that specialized in “educating severely and profoundly handicapped children.”
Coach Kathie explains, “The work was the best thing I have ever done in my life. I worked my way into a paying position where I was responsible for adapting the curriculum to enable children with disabilities to stay in their home classrooms.” She has also coached fifth grade girls’ and boys’ basketball for three years, and currently works in the nursery at her church.
The story of how Coach Kathie learned to swim is a remarkable one—and it is empowering for those who feared water as children and those who didn’t learn how to swim until adulthood. After all, not many moms can say that they’ve saved their child’s life by learning how to swim. Read on for her incredible story.
Coach Kathie, tell us about your background. How did you feel about the water when you were a child?
I am from Twin Falls, Idaho. My parents were firm on all of their kiddos learning to swim. I unfortunately had ear infections, so I didn’t get the chance. But I have always loved and been drawn to the water. I had a couple of near drowning experiences as a child, which created in me a healthy fear/respect for the water. I was embarrassed to tell my friends I didn’t know how to swim, so I became really good at faking it. The doggy paddle was my best friend.
When and why did that change?
When I had my kids, I vowed that they would never be afraid of the water like me. My husband is a fish, and I wanted my kids to be like him. After trying a myriad of swim programs, we found FLOW Aquatics—and wow. Watching my kids blossom in the water was a complete joy. I decided that I wanted to learn, too, so I could be the mommy playing in the water instead of sitting by the pool not wanting to get wet.
Coach Shannon took me under her tender wing and taught me how to put my face in the water without feeling fear for the first time in my life! Fast forward eight years, and I can honestly say I know how to swim. I am not a pretty swimmer, but I have a passion for the water now instead of fear.
Share an experience you had in the water that changed your perspective of swimming.
A couple months after I took my first lessons with Coach Shannon, my family was on vacation near the ocean. My kiddos had been taking swim lessons with FLOW for about 18 months. My daughter and I were out in the ocean playing and all of a sudden she became distressed. She started clawing and grabbing me. My first thought was that my husband would come save us, then I realized, oh my gosh, I’m the mommy, I have to save us. I remembered the cues that Shannon would tell the kids and that she taught me. I told my daughter to roll to her sweet spot (on her back). It was like the lights turned on, she rolled over on her back and so did I. We floated around and gradually kicked back to shore. I knew in that moment that learning how to swim was the most important gift that I could have ever given my children and myself.
I love FLOW Aquatics! I think their swim program is the best in the Treasure Valley.
What is your number one recommended swim safety tip?
Don’t swim alone!
What do you love most about teaching? swimming? teaching swimming?
Teaching is like opening a present. When a child’s face beams in recognition of a new understanding my heart melts. I love helping children and adults to be empowered by increasing their educational experiences, be it in the classroom or out living life. Making a connection with another human being and watching that person grow is absolutely priceless in my book.
Now that I know how to swim, I love the freedom that I feel. I feel a peacefulness in the water that I don’t feel anywhere else. I am so grateful for Coach Shannon.
I am excited about teaching swimming because, I don’t want anyone to ever have the fear of water that I grew up with. I want to be a part of helping kids be safe and smart around the water. I feel joy when I leave my classes. I feel like I am doing something positive for the world.