Development, Donor Impact Report, Faces of the J

It’s Never Too Late to Jump In

Michelle Flowers-Taylor +Tamra Taylor

Michelle Flowers-Taylor loves swimming and boating with her family, which is something she never expected. “Growing up, I was a really poor swimmer,” she said. “I was never comfortable in the water.”

That all changed when her daughter, Tamra, started taking swim lessons at the J.

“I wanted her to have a different experience than I did,” Michelle said. Which is why she and her husband, Landon, decided to enroll Tamra in swim lessons when she was 2 years old. “Since day one, she’s been excited about her lessons. She really loves them,” Michelle said.

Two years later, Tamra still loves being in the water, and she’s also gained confidence and understands water safety. During a family vacation to the Bahamas last fall, Michelle was impressed that now 4-year-old Tamra knew to wait to go in the water until she had her life jacket on and was so self-assured when swimming.

In fact, Michelle was so impressed that she finally felt ready to try and overcome her own water fears. “I decided it was time for me to become a better swimmer,” she said.

She signed up for private lessons at the J and after six weeks she was shocked at how much more confident she felt in the water. “I’m not ready for the Olympics yet,” Michelle joked, “but I’m not afraid of the water anymore. I actually enjoy it!”

The Flowers-Taylor family lives on Mercer Island, which makes it all the more essential to Michelle that her family is competent in the water. “It’s such an important life skill that everyone should know, especially if you live on an island,” she said.

Michelle loves seeing Tamra have fun in the pool—diving to find toys at the bottom or doing water tricks—noting with a laugh that “she’s a much better swimmer than I am.” But Michelle also believes the impact of Tamra’s lessons goes far beyond the pool. “It’s improved her confidence. She’s strong and she’s going to be tall, and she’s very physically active. I’m glad she’s learning to be comfortable and confident in her body.”

Michelle hopes Tamra is also learning from watching her tackle her own obstacles. “I hope I’m modeling the fact that you’re never too old to learn something new or to overcome a fear,” Michelle said. “Plus, I think she sees that even challenges can be overcome with consistency and effort.”

While the Olympics might not be in the cards for Michelle, she’s thrilled that her family can finally enjoy the water together. “It’s such a fun thing for us to share,” she said. “We get to be silly and splash around and make great memories for Tamra. It’s really joyful and a great bonding experience.”