Category Archives for Summer Dreamers

Ballet. Going deep into dreams and water.

Click image for a larger view.

Anniyah, 10

Swimming is fun in the pool. You can play water polo it’s like playing soccer, but not with your feet or two arms only one arm. Plus coach taught us some moves so we can swim better and learn more moves. That’s whats swimming is about.

Update from Week 5 from Anniyah

Every day we go swimming. We go in the deep and play water polo. And we do some exercise before swimming, and we dive in the deep and do all kinds of stuff. we try to dive and get the block from the deep.

Damaud, 10


I’m really good at four square. I beat a lot of teachers, and I always have a trick up my sleeve. My mom put me in swimming so they could teach me how to swim. They are really good at teaching me. Clearly, I am good at a lot of sports.

Jaylen J, 10

Jaylen J.

I like swimming because it’s fun and i get to hang out with my friend’s.I hope I get to play SKWIM some time soon.

David, 10

I love Summer Dreamers because I get to swim and do water pool, and I love the teacher.


Elizabeth, 9


I believe swimming is helpful because if your sister or brother can’t swim and they went in the deep end, you can save them. Now if you want to go faster use flippers. Flippers are very helpful and I love them. If you don’t know how to swim yet use the swimming board. The swimming board will help you float, and you can kick and you will go.



I like the pool because we are learning lessons. I like swimming in the deep end. Sometimes, it’s fun to use the kickboards. We use fins too. It’s easy to swim with fins.




I like to swim. Sometimes we go in the deep and get to swim. I want to be a lifeguard and do the diving board. The kickboard was hard at first, but it is getting easier.



I like the pool because we play water polo. After we swim, we get to have free time. I took my deep test so I get to swim in the deep end now. I like the kickboards because they help you when you swim. I like how the flippers help you kick up and down when you are swimming. I like doing flips in the pool. In free time, we get to play basketball.



First we swim, then we practice with the kickboard. After we practice with the kickboard, we try swimming without the kickboard. It’s easy for me to do. Then we try swimming in the deep. We have free time at the end.



I love Swim & Water Polo because we get to have fun and lean. I WANT TO COME BACK.

Timileyin, 8

I know water polo teaches about swimming, and it began England. The pool has been super warm. It’s really easy to swim. The games we play are fun. The pool is relaxing, and it’s easy to swim.



I love to swim in the deep. We all get to use kick boards. I tried the deep test yesterday, but I need to work on my strokes. Swimming with flippers makes us go faster. We get to use all kinds of swimming objects/equipment.


I like Swim & Water Polo. We get to play water polo. It’s easy. I like to go in the deep because it is important to me to learn how to swim. I like to use the fins because they make you swim really fast.

Connected Words and Actions at Swim & Water Polo from Camp King

Content with updates from some of the kids of from our program for creating literate Olympians here!

Mariam, 9



Week 3 update from Mariam:
 I like the water polo program because they teach me how to do diving in the deep. They show me how to do frog in the shallow water. They show me how to swim faster with the fins. They teach us how to do the frog in the deep water because when you do the frog the water gets up up.
Today they do something different. They got noodles, red and white — the white is the goal. And, I like they do it like that because that has been easier for me. And, I got 5 goals today.
Update from Week 4 from Mariam:
This week the coach said we can do a race between Wind Cave and the other team. We took the kickboards, and we made a race. I got 2:07. I like that. And we made swimming only 2 breathing the whole pool. We dive in the depth. We do super man.
Week 5 Update from Mariam:

I like this week because yesterday we threw something – a hard and heavy weight into the pool. I dove in and I got it. And next, the coach threw one again, I got that too. But I can’t always deliver it it to the some without somebody helping me, but he drops too.

Donovan, 9


I like the water polo program because I like playing SKWIM because I like when it skwims across the water. I also like when we have to catch it with one hand and throw with the other. I like when we have to shoot it into the goal. I like when we exercise on the water and back float. The last thing that I like about water polo is that we have to work as a team and we have fun.

Update on week 3:

I like when when we play SKWIM because I keep scoring goals. I like that we have to where our head bands during SKWIM. I like learning how to dive in the deep. I like leading Coach Curtis exercise drills. I also like how I play with my friends. I am enjoying swimming very much!!!!

Imani, 9


Last week we got to play water polo. The thing that I liked about water polo was when we really got to play water polo. The thing that I did not like about it was when we had to put the hats on our heads. Before we did all that we did a little swim exercise. We did a little exercise with a board when we had to swim on our back. We also did an exercise without the board.

Week 3 update from Imani
Swim and water polo is fun to me because we get to play SKWIM. SKWIM is fun to me because it is a little bit like frisbee, but in the water. I also like SKWIM because we get to go in the deep water. I do not like when I drown sometimes. Swim and water polo is fun to me.



Cameron, 9

Cameron, opening the door to the school for the swimmers to enter!

Last week at swim and water polo I liked everything we did at the pool. We get to swim and do exercises and swim sports like water polo and SKWIM. After swimming we did normal exercises and stretches and played other games at Swim and Water Polo. They also provide us with things we need to swim like flippers, borrowed swim trunks, kick boards. We get head gear and different exercises each time. We swim to build up our strength.

Week 2 update:

This week in Swim & Water Polo I learned some new water exercises, and I learned how to do a front stroke. I went in the deep water for the first time. I used flippers and life jackets to swim in the deep to help me swim and float.

Week 3 update from Cameron:

This week in Swim and Water Polo I learned how to swim with my face underwater and how many strokes I should do until I bring my face above the water. I also learned how to swim in the deep water with my face in the water. I used my flippers to help me swim this week. We got to dive in the water. We had a new coach and new lifeguards too. They broke us up into groups. In the shallow we did freestyle stroke back and forth. In the deep water we learned treading water, and we got to jump and dive in the deep water. After jumping and diving in the deep water we swam back and forth, then we went to the shallow again and splash our lifeguard. We played SKWIM and ULTIMATE SKWIM, then we had free time for a little bit, and we got to do more diving and jumping in the deep water when all swam from the deep water to the shallow water. I HAD A LOT OF FUN IN SWIM AND WATER POLO THIS WEEK AT SUMMER DREAMERS.

Week 5 update from Cameron:

I had fun this week because….. We got to kickboard kicking starting from the deep to shallow. We did the 25 25s race from wall to wall. We also played against Voyagers. Its like the finals! Windcave won Game 1. We were going to play again some day. We played find the penny. I found 4 pennies and some more. I got to dive and swim to the wall. I am happy I got a medal and won something.

Week 6 update from Cameron:

Last week at Summer Dreamers I passed my deep water swimming test. I passes it at the outdoor pool.

Tre Vaughn

Tre Vaughn

I like to swim. I liked to play the games. The exercises were fun! It was fun playing SKWIM with my teammates because we had to try to put the frisbee in the goal.

Mia, 9


I love the program because I like our exercises. I also like when we play water polo. I also love when we get done early and get to free swim. We also get to play skwim. In water polo you have to catch the ball with one hand. In skwim you have to slide the the smooth yellow frisbee on the water. That is why I love Water Polo and SKWIM.

Week 3 update from Mia

This week was the best week ever because we did new, fun exercises. The best exercise was the treading exercise. When we learned how to tread, it was so exciting and fun. I also learned how to swim in the deep. On Friday, July 14, we learned how to play ULTIMATE SKWIM. This is how fun it was this week.

Update from Mia on Week 4:
This week we did the same thing we did last week. But, we practiced diving in. We also did a penny toss, and we got trophies and metals for swimming. We also did our 25 25s. Next week I hope we do something more interesting.
Week 5 update from Mia

This week I had fun because we did something different. This week we exercised with medicine balls. We also used medicine balls like kickboards. After that we used diving blocks. Coach threw the diving blocks in the water. First, I got the diving blocks in the shallow water. Then, coach threw diving blocks in the deep water. Last, we played water polo.



I like to dive in the pool. I like to do flips. I had fun playing water polo. The slippers helped me swim better. I loved playing skiwm!

Damian, 10



Week 3 update from Damian

This is what I liked about SKWIM this week. I like when I passed it to my teammate and we scored some goals. And, I also like when I got to swim in the deep. I also like when we treaded. The best part was jumping and diving in the deep end of the pool. I liked when I kept blocking it. When we got to play ULTIMATE SKWIM, even though we lost, it was fun.

Week 6 update from Damian:

Last week was fun. We went to the Sue Murray Swim Pool, and I pasted my deep test and I got a metal. When we were at the outdoor pool, I dove in the deep end. We went down the slide, and it was fun. Mr. Mark told us to do our best and have fun any we did.

Updates from July 5

Kencraveyon, 9


TODAY is my first day to Swim & Water Polo. I LIKE it. ABOUT Swimming is that I learned how to swim, to kick and the game SKWIM.

Week 5 update from Kencraveyon:

Before I could not go in the deep and swim in the deep water, but now I could swim. I want to achieve my goal, and I could. I can swim. I love to swim, and I can achieve my goal in SKWIM and Water Polo. I learned to swim and play awesome and cool games, and I learned how to float on my back.

David, 10

I love how we are playing games.

I love Summer Dreamers because I get to swim and do water pool, and I love the teacher.

Week 5 update from David:

On Friday I passed my deep water test, and I learned how to swim.

Wayne, 10

I look forward to learning how to swim in the deep and be able to save somebody in danger or drowning.

Week 3 update from Wayne
What I liked about this week is we spent more time in the deep. For example, we practiced treading, diving, and jumping in the deep. Also, we were racing in the deep against each other. We also had a new teacher, and other people help us tread, dive, and jump in the deep. What I did not like about this week is that for some reason I kept getting tired, and could not throw the SWKIM disk to my open teammates without the other team blocking or stealing the disk.

Nevaeh, 10


The flippers help me swim faster. Sometimes we swim with the board and without the board. I Like to swim like a mermaid. And swim on my back and on my stomach. What I like about water polo is I get to catch with one hand and I don’t like about water polo is we have to wear the hats.

Skwim. We get to shot it into the goal and be in a group. What I don’t like is we can’t do air to air.



I LIKE SUMMER DREAMERS because I get to swim and get to have a good and nice Coach and nice good team. That’s what I like about Summer Dreamers and Swim & Water Polo Camp.

Week 3 update:

What I learned at Summer Dreamers is we did exercising to get strong. We have free time and we do back floating. We did a little of Water Polo. When we go swim, they let us go to the deep end. And, I like shooting goals in ULTIMATE SKWIM.

Terry, Age 10

Terry and his brother.

I LIKE SWIM AND WATER POLO BECAUSE I CAN BE WITH MY FRIENDS and like to swim and it teaches me how to swim backwards.

Week 4 update from Terry:
I LIKE TO SWIM AND I like to do exercise and I can swim better then before. I won a trophy too, and I played WATER POLO. AND, I played find the pennies and fond 13 pennies.

Terrance, 10

I love to swim at Summer Dreamers because….. we get to play water polo and play penny toss. That is why I like water polo.
Week 5 update from Terrance:
This week was the best week of my life because I like water polo. Because, we get to play water polo and practice and play SKWIM. We practice how to swim. We used the kickboard. We had races. Then we thew, I came last in the race.
Week 6 update from Terrance:
I like when we play SKWIM and water polo. I like when we have races. 😎

Elliott, 9


I want to be able to swim in the deep so I can be able to swim in a lake, and so I can be a swim coach. I will able to teach Adrian.

Week 3 update:

I liked that we can play SKWIM. We get to play together. And, we can go to see a team play. I like that I can swim in the deep part of the pool. I like that I swim at all — it can help me stay alive. I like that I can hold my breathe in the pool so I can hold my breathe in a lake. (Week 3 update.)

Adrian, 10


The water is very cold. My goal is to go to the deep water, finish the deep water test and learn to swim. I finally swam with a floaty and went under water. I had fun doing it and trying something new. I need to remember my trunks every day.

Zekiah, 9


Water polo is a game I have played before and it was fun. The rules to the sport are simple. The rules of the game are have to slide the Frisbee on the water. Another rule is you can’t stick it in the water. Those are the basics of the game.

Nija, 9


We played a game called Mr./Mrs. Wolf. I like playing the wolf game because if I was the wolf and I tagged someone they would be it. In swimming I passed my deep test, and I was so happy and my teacher was happy too. In the shallow water is so much fun to me I like to go under water with goggles. Under water I can see my friends playing in the water. We have these flippers. They have lots of colors and I like to where purple, but its not my size. THE END……..

Zaria, 9


I like swimming because is is fun. We play a lot of stuff. I passed my deep test. We played Mister Wolf and Four Corners. The first time I got in a pool was when I was 1 year old.


Santino, 9


I like when I swim in the deep. It makes you have confidence. I like looking under water with goggles.


Jaila, 9


We play 4 square. I was the queen a couple times. We had a lot of fun. We played Mr. Wolf. I got caught 4 or 5 times. We played ske!!!!!!!!!!!!bo. I missed a couple times. We had a lot of fun. We played cowboy. We had fun. All of these games!!!!!!!!!!!!


Jaliya, 10


I love swimming. Playing in the water. I love writing and playing Mr. Wolf. I love skiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiibo even four corners and 4s square and swim water polo. I gorilla, cowboy, and ninja.

Week 5 update from Jaliya:
I had fun at the pool. We did a deep test, but I didn’t pass. I went down the slide and had fun. I wish we could do this more, but we can’t because we got two days left. We played games there and had lots of fun.

Jeannine, 10

It was awesome to be in the pool, like I was in the deep end. I’m so happy. I even played skwim. I think I’m going to love water polo. It will teach me how to swim better. I also passed my deep test.

I love the people in my group in Swim & Water Polo. The name of my group is called the Voyagers. It is so fun we get play skwim ;]
I had so much fun. Love it so much. Go to
Jeannine posted in week 5, on her last day of camp before moving:

I just love to swim. It my last day of camp, but I’m sad I’m leaving.

Valery, 10


We played 4 square, then we go swimming, and we play in the water. The teacher tells us how swim. We go swim in the deep.

I like to swim because I have fun.

Corey, 10

4 Square is really fun. But Skwim is really really fun. Sceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeball is really Awesome. I like the superman swimming technique. But my Favorite FAVORITE IS Learning how to face my fears of the water. And how to do it in the deep water.

Submerge face photo frame.

Corey showing his stuff on one of the first days of Swim & Water Polo. On day seven, Corey was proud to report that he had held a Superman Float for six seconds. He was able to hold his glide while being pushed quickly for the width of the pool at Allegheny.


Week 5 update from Corey

SWIMMING IS AMAZING, but I’m now perfect at swimming in the deep end. BUT now the deep end is still terrifying, but you should go with the flow.
Signed, Corey, 10.





SKWIM, Ultimate style, with squad, Wind Cave

This is still the first week of camp and we are playing our second type of SKWIM game and have also played a little bit of water polo too.

SKWIM, Ultimate style, is played with an “end zone.” A point is scored after the offensive team passes the disk into the opponent’s end zone and another player on the offensive team gets to the disk first, keeping it above the surface of the water.

Unlike football and rugby, one can not swim nor carry the disk across the goal line by yourself. There must be a pass over the goal line to a teammate. When the pass happens, like all passes in SKWIM, the disk must touch the surface of the water. No air-to-air passes nor air-to-air passes for a score.

Other rules to note:

When a person has the disk, it can be held for up to three seconds. Not four seconds. Hold onto the disk too long and it is a turnover and the other team gets the disk.

When a person has the disk, the disk can not be taken out of his or her hands. The defense can block the pass. But stealing the disk within the three-seconds of possession is not permitted. No body contact too!

More photos of Wind Cave

Camp U-Prep Swim & Water Polo

Explore more images on the site:

Summer Dreamers’ Camp King Swim & Water Polo Squad: Voyageurs with Mr. Singleton

Photos taken at the end of practice on the first day of swimming at SDA17, Summer Dreamers Academy in 2017. Swimming happens at Allegheny Middle School. The academics and lunch happens at Pittsburgh King.

UPDATE: U-Prep Permission Slip for Swim & Water Polo — Urgent Turn Around Please


So sorry. The field trip has been called off as per messages from central office at Pittsburgh Public Schools. Ugh. So sad. We got on-site approval. Had the support of the water polo organizers. They were excited to have us come and watch as well. Then we make up the permission slips. Plus, we had almost universal buy-in from the guardians and the kids. Almost everyone had turned back a signed permission slip. Finally, the day before our slated trip — Thursday — today — we got the bad news. Can’t go. We won’t get to stray off campus at all in 2017. Really disappointed. We had done this in the past with Swim & Water Polo as part of Summer Dreamers.


Dear Guardians of Students in Swim & Water Polo activity at U-Prep:

The enclosed permission slip needs your attention and prompt return to the Swim & Water Polo teachers at U-Prep as we want to hike with all of our students from U-Prep to Pitt’s campus this week (on either Thursday or Friday) to watch water polo tournament games.

We seek your permission to walk to Pitt’s Tree’s swim pool to be spectators of these high-level games among high school players from around the region. After the 15-minute walk, we’ll observe the action and setting for about an hour. We’ll share many teachable moments and return to U-Prep in plenty of time for the regular bus ride at the end of the camp day. This field trip is to happen within the regular day’s activities at regular times in the afternoon activity. Of course, an early dismissal on that day would not be practicable.

Going on either Thursday or Friday depends upon weather, tournament schedule and getting a group of signed permission slips returned. Please have your child return this form to the Swim & Water Polo Coaches or else insert the signed form in the envelope for permission slips for Swim & Water Polo at the office.


Coach Mark Rauterkus


+ + + + Return to Camp U-Prep office or give to Swim & Water Polo teachers + + + +

Guardian’s Name: ___________________________

Phone #: ___________________________

Student’s Name(s): ___________________________

I give permission for my child to hike off campus from Camp U-Prep to Pitt’s swim pool to watch part of a competitive water polo tournament in the afternoon on Thursday, June 29 and/or Friday, June 30, 2017 as part of Swim & Water Polo activities.

Signed: ___________________________

Today’s Date: ___________________________

RETURN to Swim & Water Polo Teachers at Camp U-Prep


The schedule for the water polo tournament has been posted and is in the image below. Since there are no games slated for Thursday afternoon, the Swim & Water Polo students from U-Prep’s Summer Dreamers are going to need to go on Friday. We’ll need to depart quickly from lunch and walk quickly up the hill to make it to the game. Lunch is over at 1:40. Game begins at 1:30 am. The game is a girls game for either first place or third place.

Other students and families can go to the watch the games after camp ends on both Thursday and Friday. I am going to encourage the Camp King students to go to the pool on Thursday at 6 pm to watch our teacher, Ton, play in one of his games. He is playing in the blue boxes (for boys) with the Tiger team.

Kate, another staff member at Swim & Water Polo at Camp King, plays in the pink boxes (for girls) and Tiger. Her game on Thursday is at 8:10 pm.

Day 1 = dry time at Camp King

Camp King

Some of the kids who are in Swim & Water Polo made it into the first video for 2017 and picked the squad names. They’ll be called Wind Cave and Voyageurs. We try to pick the names from a list of National Parks and the same names can’t be reused.

Anyone ever been to those places and want to share some photos with me and the campers?

Frustration on Friday at 4 pm — and Summer Dreamers starts on Monday. The contract changes are explained.

Yesterday was a bad day for me because I lost my cool waging an administrative battle with some with Pittsburgh Public Schools. I was frustrated. I think a solution that includes a down-sizing has been found. We’ll see what the first day and week of camp brings.

Sadly, the contract for Swim & Water Polo with the Pittsburgh Public Schools / APOST and the nonprofit, BGC is in going to change. There are more than a dozen kids who expect to be in water polo next week, and they’ll be denied. Ugh.

Providing opportunities and access to aquatics for our city kids is central to my being. The outcome in this latest challenge, still to be formalized with an adjusted deal, is not what is desired: FEWER kids in our program. So, I’m disappointed. I’ll explain what’s what in this posting.

I am sticking to my original thoughts and will not compromise. Let’s not threaten the program’s principles in terms of:

  1. Safety, nor,
  2. Learning advancement, nor,
  3. Game integrity.

The spirit of cooperation and my relationship with PPS and PPS Summer Dreamers is something I take seriously. I have never broken a deal. Generally, I’m wrongly blamed for recruiting extra students into Swim & Water Polo. In the past, we often open up more spots for kids who want to join us. I have expressed a desire to grow participation in Swim & Water Polo, past 190 students at our peak enrollment in the past, to more than 1,000. So, turning away kids is against my personal constitution.

I have a plan for coaching 90 kids at the Northside site and I’m happy and excited to do so. But, how those kids are managed needs to be with best practices and in a way I dictate. We want to energize the kids in water polo — not ring-around-the-rosy games. The squad structure and matrix of the Swim & Water Polo activities are keys to our mission and success.

Summary: I want 15 or 16 kids in a squad. I want to manage three squads each with 16 kids. Meanwhile, the on-site order was to do two squads of 25 kids. Hold everything! Someone at PPS feels the best I can do with my program is to have two squads each with 25 kids. I won’t do that, and that’s what I made clear in a not-so-elegant manner on Friday.

Very best solution — three groups and use of all the local pools

The ultimate solution, to get a program that sets the world on fire, is to have three squads of 15 to 17 kids. Two of the squads would swim each day, in shifts / stations at the indoor PPS swim pool at Allegheny Middle School and the THIRD squad would go off campus to the Northside’s Citipark Swim Pool called Sue Murray. They would hike over and swim there from 1 to 3 pm.

Sue Murray Pool from past

At the Citiparks Pool, we’d have some skills to work upon. But it would be a time to also play games with some other kids, playing well with others. And, a time to get outdoors. We have had a great history of swimming outside with Swim & Water Polo in the past years. Never a problem. Always rewarding. And, when we can work indoors for a majority of the time, going outdoors is a great camp experience in terms of variety.

The city kids should be able to use the city parks and city pools — and they have been welcome. We need PPS to allow this to happen again, as it worked in the past without problems.

Two adults and a captain helper can easily manage 15 kids in a well supervised walk and swim. Even if this happened 1 day a week, it would do wonders. To keep it simple, let’s take one squad every day so every kid gets to go outdoor swimming once every third day — if they know how to act accordingly, of course.

If denied regular outdoors swimming — then let’s have three squads rotate in stations and swim indoors

We can live with less regular field trips and swim a super-majority of the time indoors with three squads in three stations. Begging for less than ideal is a buzz kill.


Swim & Water Polo operates as an “activity provider” in a sub-contract with APOST and PPS. APOST is part of the after-school wing of the United Way. APOST is a meta-organization for doing some administrative duties with PPS. APOST helps, especially, with finance and cash-flow issues for the activity providers.

This 2017 Swim & Water Polo contract had assigned 90 students with 50 at Northside’s King and 30 at U-Prep in the Hill District. There isn’t any issue at U-Prep as we have 30 kids total, that is of course, two squads of 15 students in each squad.

Supervision isn’t an issue.

Plenty of swim instructors, coaches and lifeguards are ready to work. For the Northside site, PPS provides some teachers and camp coordinators to help.  On paper, now, the ratio is 4:1 camper:adult. At King, we were to have six PPS teachers, two lifeguards, three teen captains, and one and a half experienced coaches. I’m counting myself as half as I’ll be either at King or at U-Prep depending upon activities. Plus, we were promised five Learn-and-Earn helpers, but seem to be expecting three. Let’s not even count those folks.

Fit, Fitness, and pitching the numbers.

The 50 kids at King are to swim at the pool at Allegheny Middle School, an easy three-block walk. The pool is 4 lanes wide with a shallow and deep end. One important limitation is water space in the shallow end with third-grade kids. None of the kids are expected to know how to swim on the first day. Less than 10% will be able to swim in the deep water as we begin. In past years, Swim & Water Polo had far more of middle school kids in higher grades. This year, in 2017, all the assigned students are 3rd graders. If we had a mix of students from various grades, some would be older, taller, and able to stand in deeper water. Last year, 2016, allowed for different squad sizes because many of the kids had been in Swim & Water Polo in in prior years (2015 & 2014). There were already good swimmers and older kids in the camp. And, the pool, Brashear High School, was a bigger, 6-lane pool. We could play two games at the same time. In 2017, the assigned kids are all new to Swim & Water Polo.

My plans for the 50 students calls for the formation of three squads with 16 or 17 kids per squad. (50 divided by 3 is 16.6.) Given a typical day and kids absent from camp any given day, we’d have about 15 kids per squad. There are plenty of reasons for having three squads of 15-students at King, in my expert opinion.

The rub. I’m told we must have two squads with 25 kids.

No way. I’m not going to dunk 25 kids, all rookie swimmers, all 3rd graders, into the 4-lane pool. Two-squads won’t work.

With three different squads, the swimmers have ample room in the pool, in lessons, in the games and in the locker-areas for transitions.

The three squad matrix, my plan, came with two objections from PPS teachers who are assigned to our activity. The complaints arose from newcomers to my program and within the initial 3-minutes of our initial training meeting on Thursday. I heard the order: “All 50 students were going to go to the pool at the same time.” Plus, “Every day of camp would be just like the others.”

PPS people are to support the activity providers, not dictate, the terms of the experience (in this case, sabotage).

Some issues surface between activity-providers and assigned PPS teachers now and then. Nine-out-of-ten times, the relationships have been great. But, training week is always awkward. And when the personnel fit isn’t present, things can spin sideways, especially after a pitched complaint to a specific principal / camp director. “Partnerships,”  expert leadership, and program goals matter little. The principal pitched the concept of ONE group of 50 kids all in the pool at the same time. OMG. The cooler head of the activity coordinator gave a compromise of 25 kids with two groups.

Three squad matrix with three activity stations in a circuit-style rotation

  1. Academic / classroom instruction happens in the mornings.
  2. Our kids get early lunch (great) to 12:45 pm.
  3. 12:45 to 1 pm: Meeting with all coaches and students with Water Polo, plus attendance. Breaking up into squads and then heading to stations.
  4. 1 to 1:50 pm: First station
  5. 1:50 to 2:40 pm: Second station
  6. 2:40 to 3:30 pm: Third station
  7. Prepare for dismissal at 3:45 pm and 4 pm buses.

The stations are similar to circuit training. The groups rotate from one station to the other on a schedule. I call this the daily matrix.

    Activities and locations for these three stations:

  • Swim Pool
  • Literacy / Technology in a computer lab or else patio with tablets
  • Exercise in patio and immediate areas on the sidewalk around the school.

Time at the swim pool is divided into a tiny bit of dry-land time to ensure listening. That can be some simple arm swings. Getting in the water is accompanied with fitness time, often starting with shallow-water running, jumping, kicking, spinning, dolphin dives. Then comes the group lesson on swim technique. Then we get specialized drills and skills with water polo and SKWIM. Passing, defense, goal-keeping and game play. The last bit in the water is generally devoted to game play, scrimmages, continual action. Game over. Put away equipment. Dry off and change into clothing for a group walk back to school.

Time with literacy and technology includes connected writing, discussions, quiz taking, video watching and efforts with multimedia and our online resources including a course, Get Your Feet Wet – Swimming, at We do A-for-Athlete activities and stress water safety stories too.

The exercise time with the students includes body-weight exercises, med-balls, stretching, some yoga, planks, box jumps, and a few other exercise routines that we’ve designed and create. But this exercise time also includes talk about water polo rules, SKWIM techniques, game-play, sportsmanship, teamwork and goal-setting. We de-brief and prep about our time in the pool and answer questions, offer in-depth tips and watch video of ourselves. Plus, of course, we take the hike to and from the school and pool, hydrate, perhaps snack, and change into and out of our swim suits.

Conducting “Recreational Swimming” and “Free Swims” isn’t our aspiration, especially at the indoor-pool setting in the summer.

The three 50-minute periods can work its magic, especially in the early stages of camp when swimming stamina isn’t developed. We don’t want the kids to take breaks in the water, get cold, have to substitute and sit idle. When people are out of the pool, on the deck, and causing distractions, the sessions suffer.

Everyone stays engaged with the matrix and 15 player squad sizes.

One squad swims first, while the other squads are at the exercise and literacy stations. On the next day, that squad swims at the second station. And later in the week it swims in the third station. Every day brings a slightly new experience with new flow, new challenges, new lessons, new progression. I like it best when a squad gets to exercise before swimming, getting hot and breaking a sweat before showering and cooling off in the swim pool.

Equipment issues too

SKWIM goal at the Obama pool, 6-lanes wide. See how we can’t put 25 kids into the pool at one time.

In 2016 we deployed swim fins and in 2017, we invested in lots of additional fins for the smaller feet of the younger swimmers. These official SKWIM fins are going to be a great addition to the program. However, we have four or five pair of each size fin. We should be able to get a whole squad of 15 kids wearing fins — but — there is no way we’d have enough fins to outfit a squad of 25 kids if they are in the water at the same time.

Playing water polo at an indoor pool is competitive fun and everyone gets to play.