All Posts by Mark Rauterkus

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Entry into the Allegheny swim pool on the Northside by the Aviary

| Invite

Do not confuse PPS Allegheny Middle School with North Allegheny.

PPS Allegheny Middle School is located on the Northside, directly across the street from the National Aviary.

Address: 810 Arch St, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

When school is not in session, enter the doors to the swim pool by climbing a couple of steps to enter the building and then once inside, go down two floors. The pool and pool locker-rooms is located below the gym. While school is in session, enter the school via the front doors and walk past the main floor office and down a long hallway to the back of the building and then go down, below the gym.

Enter the swim pool from the back, across from the Aviary.

Arrow points to the door to the swim pool on Arch Street

Back of PPS Middle School shows arrow to the swim pool door.

Pool at PPS Allegheny Middle School

Pool is 25-yards long and has five lines but only four starting blocks.


Front of PPS Allegheny Middle School

Front of PPS Allegheny Middle School. Also has a K-5 school too.

PPS Middle School Championships

| gobama

At the first part of the meet, an invite letter was delivered to coaches and guardians.

Letter to call participants to the new All-City Aquatics All-Star Team

Coach Mark Rauterkus

Head Boys Varsity Coach at PPS Obama
Executive Director, SKWIM USA

108 South 12th Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203-1226

412-298-3432 = cell

January 24, 2018

Delivery to participants and spectators at PPS Middle School Championships

Dear Swimmers, Guardians and Coaches:

Three cheers to you for completing the middle-school season and competing in today’s championships. Hopefully, you choose to continue swimming, as we’d love to see you at 11:30 am on Saturday at PPS Oliver High School on the Northside.

You are invited to sign-up for a brand-new,

All-City, Aquatics All-Star Team!

First meeting and swim clinic is this Saturday, January 27, 2018, from 11:30 to 1 pm on the Northside at PPS Oliver High School, 2323 Brighton Road, 15212.

Second meeting and clinic is next Saturday, February 3, 2018, from 11:30 to 1 pm at PPS Oliver.

If interested, call, text or email.

Or, sign-up in advance at

We are seeking 25 or more middle-school athletes, boys and girls, of any swimming ability, for this low/no cost program. It is a labor of love from the coach(es). We hope to organize the swimmers, guardians and boosters for an All-Star experience with specialized practices, coaching, training, and lots of play and competitions. We’ll swim, exercise, use technology tools. We’ll also learn, practice and play water polo and SKWIM, a water-disk game. We stress sportsmanship, teamwork, and conditioning with help of digital badges. Playing well with others happens with in-house meets and game-days — if we get your support and your participation.

Expect more information at the first clinics. Other practice opportunities in other city neighborhoods are possible too. Call with questions. See

Boost your fitness, swim knowledge, circle-of-friends, swim speed and aquatic game-play so that you can become a future lifeguard and a stronger varsity athlete, in any sport.

Thanks for the consideration.

Coach Mark Rauterkus

Back of letter

Click image to see larger view.

Ellis MS time trials in January

| Swim

Good job on time trials this evening.
(from Coach Ed’s email)
Today we held our second time trials, this time for only Middle School, to gauge where we went in the last two months between the first trial on November 28th, to today.
I was very happy that most of us dropped time in 50s of each stroke, and the overall average improvement demonstrated that we are getting stronger and can swim longer and harder.  As far as stroke legality, we are still working on that!  But for the sheer ability to move through the water faster doing a stroke that may not have been so familiar two months ago, I think we did very nicely indeed, and I want to congratulate all of our Middle Schoolers for their great progress.
Tonight, the fifteen girls present all swam the 50 Free, 50 Back, 50 Breast, and 50 Fly, in that order.
Our average time drop (improvement) since November in the 50 Free was 2.0 seconds, with the most improved being Liadan (minus 6.22s), Lizzie (5.59s), Netta (4.50s), and Tessa (4.26s).  Great job guys.
Our average drop in the 50 Back was 6.81 seconds, with the most improved being Maya (an awesome 22.36s), Liadan (12.93s), Caroline (11.30s), and Noa (11.07s).
Our average drop in the 50 Breast was 3.13 seconds, with the most improved being Noa (9.54s), Lizzie (9.20s), Netta (7.91s), and Liadan (7.19s).
I didn’t calculate the average drop for 50 Fly as most of them did not swim the 50 Fly last time, but I’m pleased that we all gutted it out and completed two lengths Fly across the board – in various states of legality, but that wasn’t the point today!  What mattered was getting the arms out of the water and moving simultaneously, and the legs moving together as well.  Harder than it looks!  Best improvements were by Liadan (a huge 16.09s drop), and Anna (4.75s, from just a month ago at the last meet vs. Shadyside).
Great job everyone, and let’s keep trying our best every time we hit the water. It shows!

Thelma Lovette YMCA on Centre Ave in The Hill District

| Resources

The swim pool at the Thelma Lovette YMCA is five lanes and 25-yards long. The deep end by the starting blocks is seven feet.

The pool is home to a rather small YMCA swim team called the Gators.

Plenty of adult triathletes use the pool for their swim practices in lap swim times.

Community water polo was a part of the activity mix at the pool in past years with summer dreamers and even some Friday night water polo with adults and varsity swimmers. That has not been offered in recent years due to better pool-time opportunities at other facilities.

Swim & Water Polo was able to host activities at the Thelma Lovette YMCA on Centre Ave as part of PPS Summer Dreamers. Students and staff ran to the YMCA from U-Prep and we’d generally walk back to school when finished with our water workout.

(Slide above is #35 from the Napa presentation.)


Slides from presentation to Pacific Coaches Clinic about stop watches, pace clocks, and other trends

| Equipment


The slide deck above with associated videos were part of a presentation at the end of the Pacific Swim Coaches Clinic in Napa, California, in January 2018.

Participants had a hands on opportunity with a set of watches, operated the scoreboard / pace clock, heard the audio from the wireless speakers and played briefly with the wearable device, the AutoCoach One.

A Finis sales representative was present along with coaches of various types of swim teams, including masters squads.

Coach Mark Rauterkus shared his experiences with the products and interactions from his years of knowing and using the timing system and recent trends for the company as it charts its way to a more robust sales and marketing efforts in the North American marketplace. The inventors are from Melbourne, Australia, and many more customers are aware of and using the tools there, rather than in the USA.

Program blurb from the Pacific Swim Coaches Clinic for Mark Rauterkus’ presentation.

Retention percentages for USA Swimming by year split into two age groups.

| Swim

Click image for a larger view. Use browser’s back button to return.

chart with 3 lines

Chart from USA Swimming that shows the percentage of membership retention, nationally, by year, split by two age groups. The swimmers of the 13-and-older ages are signing up with their teams on a year-to-year basis with greater frequency compared to those who are younger, ages 12 and less. The middle line, shown in blue, is the overall national retention percentage that combines all ages.  This data came from USA Swimming’s National Membership Trends Report via Tom Avischious, Field Services Director, USA Swimming.

The chart above explains why a new embrace of game-play is important.

To do better with retention of youngsters in competitive swimming programs, and with USA Swimming, a more robust embrace of game-play and a more robust utility for deploying the game-play and a legitimate pathway with sound reasoning for such games, is needed. The aquatic game-play we’re most fond of, for countless reasons, are water polo and the emerging game of SKWIM.

Both SKWIM and water polo play key roles in the formula for improving retention for swimming participation.

These SKWIM elements are new and different factors for most coaches, teams and families. SKWIM’s fin use, extra safe, easy of entry with minimal equipment, and flexibility of play among three major types of goal scoring help to support the case for inclusion for individuals and scale for diverse population sets.

USA Swimming’s Clubs could use SKWIM to improve outreach and engagement with their larger communities. SKWIM provides a better recreational alternative and activity with summer clubs, community day camps, country club teams, casual swimmers, physical education departments, university intramural activities and school district service provider contracts.

Regular SKWIM play within swim team calendars can retain more of the younger as well as the older individuals. Let’s keep the athletes in the water and associated with their swimming teams for additional years for the development and fun aspects.

Swimming World article on Jay O’Neil coaching water polo at St. Francis talks of his roots

| Swim

Western Pennsylvania’s St. Francis University has a women’s water polo program entering its second season in 2018 and has hired Jay O’Neil as its new head coach.

On The Record with Jay O’Neil, St. Francis University Water Polo Coach

Years ago, when Jay was a high school junior and senior at Plum High School, we started “community water polo” there, mixing water polo and swimming.

Click the image, a screenshot of the article, and go to the article at the Swimming World site.

The article supports the concepts promoted in a presentation to the Pacific Swim Coaches about including more aquatic games into competitive swimming practices for the sake of long-term engagement of the kids.

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