Hey, everyone! Toda here. I want to introduce you to a familiar face at FLOW Aquatics: one that exudes happiness and fun, and brightens the room when he walks in. Meet Chandler Prohl.
Chandler is the kind of person you meet and immediately know he can and will accomplish anything he sets his mind to. We’re convinced he is going to make this world a better place—which is why we hired him as a coach! Come to find out, though, as amazing as he was in the water, his skin didn’t like the water as much as he did, so he had to become a fish out of water. But a fish out of water he was not! Anything we tasked him with was done, and he quickly became an important member of the FLOW team.
Although Chandler took a six month break last year to travel, we believe these experiences have made Chandler an even more remarkable person, and one whom we are proud to have working with us. We invite you to learn a little more about Chandler, from his involvement at FLOW Aquatics, to his running (he plans to compete in six races this year!) and travels abroad.
Tell us about your background. What was the swim culture like when you were a child?
I was born and raised in Boise, Idaho and was always in the water as a child. My parents would always find time in the week to take us to the pool. I have loved water ever since!
How did you feel about the water when you were a child?
I loved it—you couldn’t get me out of it. You still can’t! [laughs]
Tell us more about your experience teaching, whether swim classes or elsewhere.
I have always loved the idea of knowledge and being able to spread that idea, in my high school/junior high years I was always the one helping the kids who had trouble understanding. But I first started coaching through the YMCA through their Tri club program. It was amazing to be able to watch the kids grow and progress through their skills. Then I found FLOW Aquatics. FLOW’s form of teaching is different, mainly because I get to really interact with the kids and show them—not just talk to them outside the pool.
What do you love most about teaching? swimming? teaching swimming?
I love anything that has to do with the water and if I am able to incorporate my passion of teaching, it sparks my interest so much more. But most of all, I love being able to watch the kids grow and progress in their skills.
What is your number one recommended swim safety tip?
Be aware of your surroundings, even if you “know” you and/or the person you are watching are safe. Anything can happen, so be ready to act. If something does happen, stay calm.
Describe an experience you had in the water that changed your perspective of swimming.
When I was about 8 and my brother was 12, we were swimming in a river. It wasn’t a fast river and it wasn’t deep either (we could easily touch, but it was deep enough we could go under). Because of several swimming incidents, my brother wasn’t and still isn’t the best swimmer. Well, he was swimming and got caught in the current and started to panic, because he was being pulled along and under by the water. My mom and dad were telling him to stand because if he did he could have just walked back to the shore, but he kept panicking and my dad had to go in after him. After that there were two other incidents where he panicked in the water. It allowed me to see how one should act with the water and that panic in any situation is never a good idea.
How has FLOW Aquatics changed how you view swimming and/or water safety?
Just from teaching the kids how to swim I improved my own swimming skills. There is always more to learn and FLOW adapts their program to offer the best learning experience out there. FLOW has also let me realize aspects of swimming and teaching that I didn’t really think about before. It is cool that just being a part of their program was able to do that for me!
What other jobs have you held before working for FLOW, and how did these help you gain skills beneficial for your work here?
I have worked as lifeguard at the YMCA as well as at a summer camp, experiences which gave me the skills necessary to work in a swim environment. I also do a lot of yard work and house work for extra income. I have also done lots of work for my parents (yard work, housework, construction projects). I would say that doing work for my parents has prepared me the most. I learned self-discipline and the true meaning of a good work ethic. My parents also taught me to go after what I want and not to hold back, it is what makes me passionate about what I do.
You have spent much of the past year traveling. In a January 20th , 2015 blog post, you mention that these experiences have changed you. How so?
A lot of things changed about me while I was abroad. Some things are very hard to explain; they are more of feeling that you can’t understand until you have lived it.
After volunteering abroad, not only did I get to experience the African culture that I was immersed in, I also got to learn about the cultures of the people I was volunteering with. It is truly eyeopening to learn about people’s traditions from their home.
After spending time with underprivileged kids I learned to give back. You start to understand that the little things don’t matter. You get to a point where you don’t care about the cold pressureless showers or the bad food. You are just happy to be there, in the moment, giving back.
I made friendships with people from all over the world, to0, people that were my age and 30 years older. And even though we had only just met, I formed bonds that felt like I had known them my whole life.
The feeling of home changes, too. I no longer have one place that I call home, and that was strange to me at first, but now I love it. They say, “Home is the people who remind you who you are.” I think that’s true.
While you were in Africa, you volunteered your time with Upendo Face, a nonprofit aimed at helping meet basic needs for underprivileged children. How has this experience affected you? Has it impacted how you interact with children at FLOW Aquatics?
Volunteering with underprivileged children showed me how lucky I really am, but also that I shouldn’t care about the little things. Everybody in Tanzania is happy. They are happy that they got rice today and they are happy that they have a home to go to even if it has only one bed and a dirt floor. They are happy to have a place to call home. It makes me happy to interact with the kids here at such a great work environment at FLOW.
Have your travels and other life experiences otherwise helped make you a better FLOW team member? If so, how?
I’m more understanding and more laid-back. In Africa they use the term “pole pole” which means slow down. I have learned to take it easy and that everything doesn’t need to be quite so rushed.
Do you have any specific travel plans for the future? If so, where would you like to go and why?
I would like to go to South America next (all of the countries). I want to spend some time down there seeing the sites and volunteering. I also want to learn Spanish; I figure that throwing myself into the culture is the best way to learn a language.
Running also seems to be a big part of your life. A few years back, you started the Barefoot Boise Fun Run. What inspired you to create the organization?
Ever since I started running I have had a passion for running barefoot. I love it so much and I wanted to spread it to my community, so that’ what I did, I set my mind to it and made it happen.
I have a strong will when I set my mind to something I make sure that it gets done and it gets done right.
I want to get it up and running again in the future, not right now, very busy with work
Doesn’t barefoot running hurt?
Nope. It takes practices but I love the feeling of being free. I also do it for the health benefits. (there is lots of controversy on it) But from my experience I believe it has certain benefits to your health.
How does working for FLOW factor into your goals for the future?
I love how the FLOW environment focuses on the strengths of their employees. They truly care, and the experience I’m gaining working here is invaluable.I’m learning skills that I will be able to use for the rest of my life. They focus on their employees’ strengths and find parts of the job that get us excited and engaged. My partnership with FLOW Aquatics will be lifelong, even when I have to move on (which won’t be for quite a while, it isn’t anytime in my near future), and I will still keep in contact and will always be a part of the FLOW family.
– – – – – –
Even though he was gone traveling for six months, Chandler walked back in the door as if he’d never left. He’s an integral part of what we do here at FLOW Aquatics, and frankly, I don’t know how we did it when he was gone! We hope he’s one fish we get to hold onto for many more years to come.