Category Archives for Creating Olympians

Talking aquatic upgrade

Great video.

Strong Swimmers, Confident Kids from J Saunders on Vimeo.

This is the time to plan for spring swim lessons. In summer, it is sorta too late. Let’s get our kids strong, and strong in the water.

In Pittsburgh, we’re blessed as we have the pools. Next, we need to keep up demand and get time in our week to use them.

See you Saturday.

Deb Sagan asks: Staying warm? How about a warm pool?

Replace running Saturday morning in 12-degree temperatures on January 7, 2016, by going to to Oliver High School pool (Brighton Rd.upper Northside) for a stroke clinic and swim work out from 9:00-11:30.  Or come to swim!

Sponsored by Mark Rauterkus, man of many swim events!  Mark sponsors many water polo teams and swimming events in the Pittsburgh area. A donation to his efforts would be nice, but otherwise my time is complimentary for YOU!

I will complete a Coaches’ Eye individual video analysis of your swimming stroke, and I will provide tips to increase your balance, streamline and body position.  There will also be time for a New Year’s swim workout!! If you spread the word, just have them email me. Waiver’s will be on site.

Please RSVP, reply to me, or text me, if you are interested so that Mark and I know who to expect. If you have a time in mind, we will be going on about 15 min, increments starting at 9:15, 9:30,9:45,10:00,10:15 so indicate a time in your RSVP. Group Swim will start about 10:45. This schedule is flexible, subject to change depending on everything! I will confirm with you,  contact me before Saturday.

See you Saturday?

Warm regards,
Deb Sagan, M.Ed. Level 2 TI Coach

Oliver High School: 9:00-11:30 am, Brighton Avenue above the Northside. Tip: Park in the lot near the loading dock. The pool is close to the gym and then down the stairs.

Water polo launch pad and deep-water swimming happens a couple weeks later

“Well begun is half done.” — Marry Poppins

Nearly 60 students jump into the pool on the first day of Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Summer Dreamers at Swim & Water Polo. The students get to perform in an routine that we call a “Show Off Swim.”

Lots are afraid on the first days as many of the students do not get to the swim pool that often. Our class is filled with beginners. The transformation into aquatic athletes starts with a parade shown in the video below. Do your best to swim across the pool, climb out, walk back to the start and try again. If you can’t swim, fake it, or else walk, run and hope.

Show us the best you’ve got. Get across the pool. Swim freestyle. Stay off the bottom. Close your lips. Float. Kick. Use your arms. Pull. Keep going. Try. All the way. Head down. Hold your breath. Go. You can do it too.

Summer Dreamers offers 27 days of “summer school.” The students get to swim every day, if things go as we hope. A few weeks later, all the kids are swimming across the deep end. They learn a life-skill. We have fun.

The progress and achievements that these kids earn for themselves in this program is hard to describe to the typical, non-swimming, school district bureaucrat.

In Later Weeks: Game on!

Swimming on the weekends and a skill for life

Swimming is a good thing


Proposal for Swim & Water Polo for Summer Dreamers 2017 has been submitted

In 2016, the contract for Swim & Water Polo from Pittsburgh Public School was for 47 students. That was about 25% of the contract for 2015.

In 2017, the aim is to get more sites, more students and more water polo.


Planning and proposals are being crafted for activities for Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Summer Dreamers Academy. Early feedback may arrive in January.


Swim & Water Polo, always one of the most popular activities among students, gets everyone into the pool every day. If you can’t swim, you’ll learn. We improve our strokes, abilities and all become deep-end swimmers, divers and real aquatic athletes. Play various aquatic games, especially SKWIM and Olympic water polo. Zoom ahead in your fitness, strength, teamwork skills and have fun.

Boys, girls, camp coaches at swim pool.

Rohan, Toby and swimmers with Swim & Water Polo at PPS Summer Dreamers at Highland Park Pool.

Open Water Swim Seminar at our Saturday Swim School with expert coach, Joella

Calling all open water swimmers, coaches, varsity swimmers interested in open water swimming, and triathletes, of course. We are going to do our first SEMINAR at the Saturday Swim School and devote a three-hour session to skills and insights associated with open water swimming.


This is the first time we’ve been able to a introduce a new partnership with Joella. Not only is she a great triathlete, but she is a coach and director of a youth triathlon team that aims to expand with activities in the city of Pittsburgh.

In the summer of 2016, a few of the city kids were able to join in with the open water swims hosted at Moraine State Park. A former Schenley and Obama swimmer, Jonnah, was also able to race in the sprint triathlon in September too. Next year, we want to be going north for open water swims and triathlons by the van and bus loads. But, it starts now, here, on November 5. We need to gain the knowledge, insights, and confidence of how it works to swim in the open.

Space is limited to 20 people. Sign up now with an email.

As a bonus, stick around after the session ends at 1 pm to learn and play Underwater Hockey to 1:45 pm. So, if you have a mask, snorkel and fins, bring them.

As a triple bonus, show up at 8 am to play the aquatic game of SKIWM. That happens from 8 am to 10.

Feel free to pass the word. Copy this URL,

Handouts and Invites

For South Side POPS and posted to Facebook:

Join Coach Mark of the Obama swim team at the Obama swim pool from 7 to 9 PM on Wednesday (Oct 26) for special community open swim and water polo practice to celebrate the re-opening of the Obama swim pool and the pending start of the high school and middle school swim seasons.

Students, parents, swimmers and even friends and families are welcome to bring their suit and towels to the pool to take a dip, get a few pointers and consider the benefits of aquatic fitness.

Pool party, 7 to 9 pm on Wednesday. Jump in. Feet first!

For those at the Sarah Heinz House:


For students at Arsenal Middle School:


For those who were a part of Summer Dreamers Swim & Water Polo

Saturday Swim School poster at Oliver High School

Pittsburgh is a swimming town.

For students at Langley


For Students at Sci-Tech


For Students at Obama


For Tiger Water Polo Players in grades 6, 7 and 8


General Handout to anyone in Pittsburgh


For High School Swimmers at Brashear, Carrick and Allderdice


For varsity swimmers, triathletes, high school athletes at Central and elsewhere


For Triathletes, Pittsburgh Triathlon Club, any swimmer looking to do Open Water Swims in the future, Coaches and Future Leaders in Outdoor Settings


Urgent Game Days Newsletter for Obama Middle School Water Polo

In advance of the game on Friday, October 21, this four-page newsletter is made available at school. The permission slip pages need to be completed to attend the game as the venue is shifting from Obama’s home pool to Kingsley’s pool.


Swim & Water Polo‘s

Urgent Game-Days Newsletter

from Coach 412-298-3432

Your reply and attention is necessary.

Since the swim pool at Obama Academy is still, presently closed. An electrical inspection is needed. So, the plans detailed here are being put into place for scheduled games. See the details and fill out the permission slip, plus opt-in-or-out of future events.

1. Obama Academy Middle School Teams, both boys and girls, are going to play aquatic games (SKWIM) against Manchester Academic Charter School Mustangs from 3:30 pm to 5 pm on Friday, 10/21/16 at the swim pool of the Kingsley Association, (412) 661-8751,, 6435 Frankstown Ave (& East Liberty Blvd), Pgh, 15206.

Students wishing to PLAY in the GAME(s) MUST have their Parents / Guardians complete the attached permission slip and return it to Coach Mark’s Mailbox in the Obama office TOMORROW (Friday, 10/21) morning.

2. Going to the game on Friday, Oct 21, Obama students who have their completed permission slips into the office are going to be excused from class at 3 pm at WALK as a group down East Liberty Blvd. (about three blocks) to Kingsley.

4. Going home from the game on Friday, Oct 21, students are going to be able to take the 5 pm activity bus from Obama to their home. Students who walk home are going to depart from Kingsley.. Parents and guardians who can drive their students home should come to the game at the Kingsley pool, and then, obviously, pick up their student(s) from the Kingsley location.

5. On Saturday (Oct 22), all (grades 4 to 12, any school) are invited to the 11:30 am to 1 pm, Swim & Water Polo practice and scrimmage as part of the new Saturday Swim School, at Oliver High School, 2323 Brighton Road, Northside, Pgh 15212. Students need to get their own their own. No transportation is provided.

6. From 12:45 pm to 2:30 pm on Sunday, Oct 23, Pittsburgh’s Middle School Water Polo players, “Pittsburgh Combined,” are playing games against North Allegheny at North Allegheny Senior High School, 10375 Perry Hwy, Wexford, PA 15090.

6a. Ideally, players and families travel to North Allegheny on their own. See you there.

6b. Some player that needs a ride to the game on Sunday, Oct 23, at North Allegheny, can travel with Coach Mark. With the support of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corp, Coach Mark is able to drive a van for up to 10 players to participate in the game at North Allegheny – pending your phone call reservation. To reserve a spot in the van, call or text Coach Mark, 412-298-3432.

On Sunday, Oct 23, the van (and carpools too) are slated to depart the Obama parking lot at 11:30 am, and depart the parking lot of the Sarah Heinz House at noon. We plan to arrive at North Allegheny at 12:45 pm. There are limited seats in the van. First come, first served. Reserve your space with a phone call to Coach Mark, 412-298-3432.

We expect to return to Pittsburgh around 3:30 pm. Pick-up phone calls can be made after the event with more exact times.

More game opportunities. No transportation is being provided for the following events.

7. Saturday, Nov 5, 8 to 10 am, Oliver High School, Saturday Swim School. No transportation.

8. Tuesday, Nov 8, election day, no school for PPS, 12:30 to 3 pm, Sarah Heinz House, Northside.

9. Friday, Nov 11, Veterans Day, no PPS school, 1 pm to 3:30 pm, Sarah Heinz House, Northside

10. Saturday, Nov 12, 11:30 to 1 pm, Oliver High School, Saturday Swim School.

11. Saturday, Nov 19, 11:30 to 1 pm, Oliver High School, Saturday Swim School.

12. Saturdays in December, (Dec, 3, Dec 10, & Dec 17) either 10 am or 11:30 am for a SKWIM’s City TOURNAMENT as part of the Saturday Swim School at Oliver High School.

See the google calendar at for updates. A new web site is coming soon, Students are encouraged to join their winter-season swim teams. Catalog of optional clothing with school colors is available for families to order if desired. Statement to the PPS School Board and Superintendent about future funding status of water polo is public at Pittsburgh hosts the National Drowning Prevention Alliance meeting in April 2017.

Swim & Water Polo Sign Up & Game-Day Intentions:

Student’s Full Name: ________________________________________________________

Student’s Grade: ____________________________

Students’ School: ________________________________________________________

Student’s date of birth: ____________________________

Student’s T-shirt size: (note either ADULT or YOUTH): ____________________________

Student’s Address: ________________________________________________________

Student’s Home Phone: ____________________________

Student’s Cell Phone: ____________________________

Student’s Email: ____________________________

In case of emergency:

Guardian(s) #1 Name: ________________________________________________________

Guardian #1 Phone: ____________________________

Guardian #1 Email: ____________________________

Guardian(s) #2 Name: ________________________________________________________

Guardian #2 Phone: ____________________________

Guardian #2 Email: ____________________________

Permission for Photography / Video and Internet Display

I grant Coach Mark Rauterkus, Pittsburgh Public Schools,, the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, America Water Polo, SKWIM USA, and all other organizations associated with the program the absolute and irrevocable right and unrestricted permission concerning any photographs and videos that he/she has taken or may take of me and the students, or in which I may be included with others, to use, reuse, publish, and republish the photographs in whole or in part, individually or in connection with other material, in any and all media now or hereafter known, including the internet, and for any purpose whatsoever, specifically including illustration, promotion, art, editorial, advertising, and trade, without restriction as to alteration; and to use my name in connection with any use if he/she so chooses. I release and discharge Photographer from any and all claims and demands that may arise out of or in connection with the use of the photographs, including without limitation any and all claims for libel or violation of any right of publicity or privacy. This authorization and release shall also inure to the benefit of the heirs, legal representatives, licensees, and assigns of Photographer, as well as the person(s) for whom he/she took the photographs. I am a legally competent adult and have the right to contract in my own name and for the students. I have read this document and fully understand its contents. This release shall be binding upon me and my heirs, legal representatives, and assigns.

Guardian signature: ______________________________________________ Date: _____________________

Obama Students: Return this form at school office mailbox of Coach Mark Rauterkus.

More insights at (Complete other side of paper too.)

Swimmer’s Name: ________________________________________________

Guardian’s name and contact info needs to be on the other side of this paper.

Question 1: Student has permission to attend game on Friday, Oct 21 at Kingsley.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

Question 2: Guardian is aware and the student is prepared to WALK from Obama to Kingsley for the game on Friday, Oct 21.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

Question 3: Student will take the 5 pm activity bus home after the Friday, Oct 21 game.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

Question 4: Student will have a pick-up at Kingsley or walk home after Friday, Oct 21 game at Kingsley.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

Question 5: Student is expected to attend the Saturday Swim School game from 11:30 to 1 pm on Saturday, Oct 22, at Oliver High School, 2323 Brighton Road, Northside, Pgh 15212.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

Question 6: Student is expected to attend the game from 12:45 pm to 2:30 pm on Sunday, Oct 23, at North Allegheny Senior High School.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

Students who need a ride in the van to attend the game at North Allegheny must call for reservation.

Question 7: Student is expected to attend the 8 am to 10 am game on Saturday, Nov 5, at Oliver High School.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

Question 8: Student is expected to attend the 12:30 to 3 pm games on Tuesday, Nov 8, election day, a day of no school for PPS. Student must get to and from the Sarah Heinz House, Northside.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

Question 9. Student is expected to attend the game from 1 to 3:30 pm on Friday, Nov 11, Veterans Day. No PPS school that day. Student must get to and from the Sarah Heinz House, Northside.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

Question 10. Student is expected to attend the game from 11:30 to 1 pm on Saturday, Nov 12, at Oliver High School, Saturday Swim School.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

11. Student is expected to attend the 11:30 to 1 pm games on Saturday, Nov 19, at Oliver High School, Saturday Swim School.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

12. Student is expected to participate in the SKWIM City TOURNAMENT as part of the Saturday Swim School at Oliver High School on December 3, December 10, and December 17 Swimmers should particpate in games at either 10 am to 11:30 or 11:30 am to 1 pm.

YES – or – NO (circle one)