"My Swim Taxi Mom" by Pat Underhill
January 30, 2013
"My Swim Taxi Mom"
I grew up in Eden Prairie, back when the main road in town was a dirt road. Our backyard was fairly big, with a swing set, and a sand box. Not exactly a big draw in the neighborhood.
My backyard neighbor had a pool, and I would go over to his house to hang out and play in the pool. Now, that's where I wanted to be. My neighbor was SEMS Head Coach Eric Seversen. Small world.
Besides hockey, my mom was looking for another activity for me to get into. Eric's mom suggested I join the local swim club, where Eric had begun swimming. So, I joined the Eden Prairie Foxjets.
I can still remember the first day of practice. I jumped in, and the group was swimming butterfly. I don't think I'd ever seen butterfly, much less tried it. I watched some of my teammates, and gave it a try. I can't confirm this, but I'm sure it was horrible.
After a few weeks of practice, I came to one conclusion about swimming. I hated it. Too much work, not enough fun. My mom mentioned my displeasure to Mrs. Seversen, and she had some advice. Wait until after the first meet.
Sure enough, she was right. I had my first meet and was hooked. There's something about only relying on yourself, and getting up there to race.
I wasn't winning anything, as is the case with most skinny little guys. However, I worked hard at it, and I developed the skills to become good. It took years of work for the big payoff.
My mom became very involved in swimming, as a Board Member, and Swim Taxi Driver. She was always shuttling us back and forth between school, swimming, and home. She had snacks for us to eat on the way, as that seems to be where the swim family meal inevitably happens.
I don't think she ever missed a swim meet. She was there for all of the failures and successes. She was proud of me regardless of what happened in the pool. My mom was without a doubt my biggest supporter.
The truth of the matter is that my mom knew nothing about swimming. In fact, she doesn't know how to swim. That became very apparent at the parent-swimmer relay we did. It was embarrassing. However, the Underhill Clan won in spite of her floundering around in the water.
I was successful because my mom was always there with unconditional support. She never pressed me about my performance, compared me to other kids, questioned my coaches, or shielded me from failure. She allowed me to find my own way, without any undue pressure.
I developed a life-long love of swimming. I can't imagine doing anything else but coaching. It's a passion, and every time I walk through those pool doors, and smell the chlorine, I can't wait to teach.
There are so many people to thank for guiding me to my dream profession. Mrs. Seversen is one of them. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't have gotten into swimming, and wouldn't have stuck with it. Thanks to ALL of the people that helped me along the way.
Now to my mom. Thank you for being there for me, unconditionally, and for allowing me to enjoy my time in the pool. It's the reason I still love it to this day.
Side note, my mom recently moved into a house with an indoor pool in the basement. She's been asking me to teach her how to swim. Now, wouldn't that be a big full-circle thank you from a boy to his mom? I think we'll start with butterfly.
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