Category Archives for Creating Olympians

It is not July yet, but we’re getting ready for it in big ways, even on the weekends.

412-public-noise, is a low volume outreach e-blast

Full e-newsletter

Hi Fellow Travelers on this journey through a pandemic!

Now for something different -- including a bunch of good news!

1. My older son, Erik, now from NYC but recently home again at our home in Pittsburgh's South Side. has been working hard to launch a business, They're bringing products to the marketplace and got great media coverage this week.



1c)'re+Actually+Excited+About Best yet.
1d) Watching for Ad Week, a business publication, soon.

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2. My younger son, Grant, is hunkered down in New Orleans. He'll graduate from Tulane Univ in a less than two weeks and then attend Medical School there in August. Whew!

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3. One of Catherine's stories is going to be included again on a national, PBS radio show, The Moth, on Mothers' Day weekend. More importantly, she and her crew in Audiology have been changing laws with telehealth, guiding the profession and leading graduation ceremonies at Pitt.
Cheers to all who graduate in 2020! Wow!

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4. Sadly, the swim pool on the Northside at The Pittsburgh Project won't open in 2020. However, looking forward, it would be great if funding from taxpayers via the park's referendum could go to great use with programming in that park in 2021. The nonprofit took over that pool and part of Fowler Park about 15 years ago. The city would have closed it, as it did with many other neighborhood pools. Now, Citiparks can step up and take it back again.

5. We got a contract from Pittsburgh Public Schools to lead some programming for 2020 Summer Dreamers for SKWIM & Water Polo Camp. The summer camp for city school students is going to happen in a fully virtual setting. I'm so excited -- really -- to lead swimming classes from my computer screen with nothing but dry students. I've got a vision. I'm expecting lots of fun literacy and aquatic lessons. But, I could really use some helpers. If you have some time to spare, I am going to build programming for an hour a day for 27 days for a virtual swim camp. Are you with me?
Link above is a new email list just opened to work on this effort. I'd love to have your volunteer effort and record your water stories as part of the build out of a fun camp for the 4th and 5th grade students.

6. One more worry swirls -- the city's summer youth job program. More help desired. I'm offering to help lead a summer work experience -- fully virtual -- for up to 200 kids, especially athletes. We need to get our youth entering the knowledge economy. Plus, we need to get them developing with better understandings of wellness, fitness and sports. Let's code about sports in 2020 -- and then inject some exercise into their summers -- with social distance guidelines in place.
This year would be a great time to plan for 2021's all city sports camp -- as an outcome project of the jobs experience in the months to come in 2020. My letter to the mayor: It is a long-shot, but I'm meeting with Majestic Lane of the mayor's office on Monday afternoon.

7. More good news. I have a new gig! I'm helping the International Swim Coaches Association as its webmaster.

Stay healthy. Stay connected. And, Erik would want us all to stay cool too!
Thanks for the interest and replies.

-- Ta.

Mark Rauterkus Mark at
Webmaster, International Swim Coaches Association Executive Director of SKWIM USA, a 501(c)(3) The Pittsburgh Project - swim coach and head lifeguard Coach at The Ellis School for Swimming, T&F and Triathlon Pittsburgh Combined Water Polo Team & Renegades (Masters)
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PPS Summer Dreamers — proposal for 2020 SKWIM & Water Polo

UPDATE at the bottom of this page as camp goes online in summer 2020.

Check out the proposal for SKWIM  & Water Polo. It is being made with the cooperation of The Pittsburgh Project.
This is a draft, and some changes are expected.

Application for PPS Summer Dreamers Academy 2020 for SKWIM & Water Polo with
The Pittsburgh Project and Coach Mark Rauterkus

Cover Page:

SKWIM & Water Polo

by Coach Mark Rauterkus and The Pittsburgh Project

Activity Name: SKWIM & Water Polo

Desired Number of Campers Per Block: 120.

Desire only double-block. Desire 60 campers at Camp South Hills and 60 at Camp PCA.

Preferred Block Type: Only interested in doing double block activity. Transition time is needed to change into and out of swim suits.

Preferred Site: Only interested in holding SKWIM & Water Polo at schools with pools.

For 2020, this includes both: Camp South Hills with access to the on-campus pool at Brashear High School and Camp PCA.

On Site: Activities are 95% on-site, with the exception of limited, off-site/cross-site, game-days & water carnival competitions.

Preferred Grades: Grades 3, 4, 5. Older students are preferred. Grade 2 is okay, but less desired. We want the greater majority of the kids to be tall enough, to be able to stand in the shallow end of the pool.

Total Proposal Cost: $266.60 x 60 students x 2 sites = $31,992

Total Proposal Cost per 75-minute block = $133.

Descriptive Blurb:

At the always productive and popular SKWIM & Water Polo Camp, directed by Coach Mark Rauterkus, students learn and improve swimming abilities, knowledge of aquatic game play and fitness. SKWIM (played with a disk) and water polo (with a ball) are teamwork games. We race, dive and stress passing, defense, sportsmanship, water safety, goal setting, and online literacy. Plus,we keep an eye on the daily sports news leading to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Japan.

Cover Letter:

Coach Mark Rauterkus
Head Lifeguard at The Pittsburgh Project
2801 N Charles Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15214

412-298-3432 = cell

January 22, 2020

Dear Administrators and Selection Committee for PPS Summer Dreamers:

Students in SKWIM & Water Polo gain valuable, life-saving skills that can lead to a lifetime of enjoyment in-and-around the water, as well as future employment as a lifeguard.

Too many kids can’t swim. The number of deaths in the water, both a pools and in natural settings, are too high. The statistics report that the water is especially dangerous within the ranks of the poor, African-Americans and adolescent males. We need to teach all our kids how to swim and gain a respect for the water for public safety sake.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that drowning is the leading cause of accidental dealth for children under the age of 4 and second leading for children under that age of 14. Seventy-nine percent of children in households with incomes less than $50,000 have little-to-no swimming ability. Research shows that 64% of African-American children have little to no swimming ability.

Formal swimming lessons reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88%. Furthermore, Summer Dreamers in water polo are always able to swim in the deep end by the end of camp, and often by the second week. Our high expectations and use of googles, fins, paddles, kick-boards, individual and group challenges and the clever e-course, Get Your Feet Wet – Swimming, zooms our progress. Many lessons and examples of the supporting digital learning are of our own show-off students, helping to connect the learning.

Knowing how to swim, and swim well, have so many benefits. Our efforts that advocate for more aquatic opportunities for kids includes the release of a list of more than 160 reasons why students should join their schools’ swim teams. This list (see true for this offering at Summer Dreamers. The quality experience and the consistency of practices at SKWIM & Water Polo Camp rivals the rigor and excitement provided to those who participate in theirPPS middle-school swim teams.

SKWIM and Water Polo game-play acts like rocket-fuel for the overall experience. Game-play engages and reinforces far more with our students than what the races of competitive swimming provides. We race too. The values with the sportsmanship, teamwork and rules coding changes are wonderful problem solving situations to witness among the youngsters.

In 2020, we want to return water polo to the PPS Summer Dreamer line-up because the staffing situations have been resolved through long-term persistence and partnership efforts from efforts with a large cadre of others that include: Lifeguard Workforce Development / Learn & Earn, Citiparks Aquatics, Allegheny County Parks, The Ellis School, Chatham University, International Swim Coaches Association, American Water Polo, SKWIM USA and by far, the most important, our hosting sponsor, The Pittsburgh Project.

In the recent summers, swim instruction and pool operations on the Northside at The Pittsburgh Project has been successful. Capacity building efforts with staffing and procedures now allow for the necessary guards and instructors. We are excited to offer the programs again. Water polo was part of the first eight years of PPS Summer Dreamers.

Thanks for the opportunity to serve our children, again, in 2020.

Sincerely yours,

Coach Mark Rauterkus

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Boys, girls, camp coaches at swim pool.

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

Update, May 2020:

The school district has announced that there will be a camp, but it will only be conducted online, not in person. Our proposal is being adjusted, drastically. But, we're excited to serve the students and unleash more tech and fitness to the students about aquatics.

If interested in helping or using our materials and plans, join the newly opening email discussion list. We can share there.

Feel free to share the link with others seeking to help or follow along this journey.

Thorny issue of women and girls sports and the inclusion of trans athletes

Noel Plum's video insights

The debate over women's sport and the complex and thorny issues of what place trans-women and those with intersex conditions have within sport has been heating in some circles. Comments by celebrated athletes such as Martina Navratilova, Sharron Davies, Dame Kelly Holmes and Paula Radcliffe have shown considerable push.

In this video, Noel covers some recent events and tries to explain the present problem, thought to be completely unsolvable. The present labels of "men's" and "women's" sports events look need an alternative model moving into the future. Expect to see many efforts in the future on how to work to and to discuss various models.

Video hopes to deal with objections.

Abandon the model of dividing sport into "men's" and "women's" categories by

  • Re-label the "women's" category explicitly as the "female" category. 
  • Disband the "men's" category. 
  • Create an "open" category for anyone: male, female, man, woman or non-gender binary.

Bill Price posted on Facebook and calls this a meta issue

The topic is sure to affect all in sports, regardless of the level and age groups. He contends that the solutions presented so far by the IOC, NCAA, USA Swimming, and the IAAF (to name just a few) don't address the real scope of the problem. He posted that coaches "need to develop a deeper understanding of why this issue is causing such a ruckus, and why some are concerned about the future of sport."

Plenty of discussions swirl about on the YouTube page as well.

Other Links to research:
  • Caster Semenya takes gender rule challenge to sports court 
  • LGBT group severs links with Navratilova over transgender comments
  • Sharron Davies: Former British swimmer says transgender athletes should not compete in women's sport
  • Sports stars weigh in on row over transgender athletes
  • Why calls for athletes to compete as a homogenized group should be resisted

Read about the National Youth Sports Strategy

The USA's National Youth Sports Strategy is an essential resource for policymakers and key decision-makers in youth sports. It aims to unite U.S. youth sports culture around a shared vision: that one day, all young people will have the opportunity, motivation, and access to play sports — regardless of their race, ethnicity, sex, ability, or ZIP code.

Based on research and best practices from the scientific community and successful youth sports programs across the United States, it offers actionable strategies for parents, coaches, organizations, communities, and policymakers to support youth sports participation for all.

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