Former Fergus Falls swimming coach Tom Uvaas will be inducted into the Minnesota Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame as a part of the 2020 All-State Swimming and Diving Banquet on Friday, April 17 at 5:30pm at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest.
Tom Uvaas started as a club and college swimmer, and then spent forty-four years as a very successful boys and girls high school swimming coach. Tom grew up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where he swam on a club swim team, but he didn’t compete in high school because the school did not have a swimming team.
After graduating from high school in 1968, he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin River Falls where he swam for four years and became a very good NAIA swimmer under coach Mike Davis. Tom swam on relays at the National NAIA meet two years and his senior year he received the River Falls Medal of Honor which is given to the school’s top student-athlete. He graduated with a teaching degree in Social Studies, History, and Geography, and a minor in Coaching.
His first job was in 1972. It turned out to be his only job as he taught in Fergus Falls for thirty-two years and coached swimming for forty-four years. Tom was an assistant coach with Dave Lindig his first two years. Dave had started the Fergus Falls swimming program a few years earlier and was the team’s first coach. In 1975, Tom took a leave of absence and attended Indiana University to earn a master’s degree in Physical Education. At that time the world famous Doc Counsilman was the Indiana Swimming Coach, and Tom was able to observe and journal every Indiana practice that season. He later used the information in his practices.
When he returned from Indiana Tom became the Fergus Falls head Boys Coach and Girls Assistant Coach. Eventually he became the head coach for both teams and he coached both Boys and Girls, retiring from Girls in 2017, and Boys in 2019. Tom also spent twenty-eight years in club coaching. His girls teams record was 158 W-85 L-2 T, and they had five individual state champions. The boys team was 239 W-74 L-1 T and was very strong in the 1970s, 1980s, and early 2000s. They finished in the top three in the state meet in 2008 (2nd), 2011 (1st) and 2014 (3rd). In addition there were nine section titles and seven Swimming All-Americas.
His top two swimmers were Stacy Busack and Mike Hurley. Both were multiple state champions, were selected State-Swimmer-of-the-Year twice, and had outstanding swimming careers in college. Tom also received eighteen Section Coach-of-the-Year awards, ten for girls and eight for boys, and he was honored as Minnesota’s Boys Coach-of-the-Year in 2008 and 2011. In the late 1990s Tom became a certified Special Olympic Swim Coach and he and his boys and girls teams helped coach the Special Olympic Team in Fergus Falls for many years. In addition he has been a Clinic Presenter and was active in MSCA throughout his career. After he retired Tom continued to be involved in swimming as a swim teacher at the Fergus Falls Foss Swim School.