Category Archives for "Swim"

USA Swimming wants more diversity in its pool of athletes

| Swim

USA Swimming seeks diversity

Simone Manuel made history in Rio's Olympics by becoming the first female African-American swimmer to win Olympic gold in an individual swimming event.

Juan Caraveo, a sports diversity and inclusion consultant for USA Swimming, points to Manuel, as well as Olympic swimmers Lia Neal and Anthony Ervin, who has won two golds in Rio, as evidence that a historically white-dominated sport is now beginning to draw from a wider base.

The U.S. Swim Team competing in Rio is the most diverse yet, he says. "But we still have a lot of work to do."

The USA Swimming Foundation, the philanthropic branch of USA Swimming, is working to help more African-Americans learn to swim. Today, 70 percent of African-American children haven't learned to swim.

"We want the demographics of our sport to be reflective of that of the country," says Caraveo.

But to make that happen, he and USA Swimming must also succeed in encouraging another underrepresented group to join their sport: Latinos.

Nearly 60 percent of Latino children can't swim, compared to 40 percent of Caucasians.

Caraveo and USA Swimming also have another motive in mind: more Olympic medals. By attracting more minorities, he says, "then we've increased our talent pool. Then we're not relying just on the Caucasian community ... . It's better from a competitive standpoint."

So Caraveo and USA Swimming are on a mission to identify the barriers to diversifying their sport and then break them down one by one.

Juan Caraveo, a diversity consultant for USA Swimming, began swimming at an early age, encouraged by his parents. On the right, he was about age 7 when he was swimming in a city pool in Temple, Texas.

Courtesy of Nicole Wilson/USA Swimming Foundation; Courtesy of Juan Caraveo

Cultivating A Culture Of Swimming

"My parents swim," says Caraveo. "My mom always felt that it is important for us to know how to swim and enjoy the water."

His parents, who both immigrated to the United States from Mexico, encouraged Caraveo's interest in the sport, but Caraveo recognizes that many children in Latino communities don't come from a culture of swimming. "Because the parents aren't swimming, the kids aren't swimming," he says.

Indeed, USA Swimming says that if a parent can't swim, there is only a 13 percentchance that a child will learn.

USA Swimming is trying to break that cycle. They have a multicultural team, which includes Caraveo, that is available to help local swim clubs find ways to reach out to different cultural groups.

"We work at the grassroots level," Caraveo explains. "We're having conversations with parents and grandparents in parks in the summer who are not utilizing pools."

One incentive Caraveo points to when speaking with reluctant parents is financial.

In Texas, he says, a high-schooler can make $8 an hour working at a fast food chain or mowing lawns.

"If you're a swim instructor or life guard, those jobs start out at $10 an hour," he says. "In urban areas, ... there is often a shortage of swim instructors and lifeguards because the kids in those communities aren't learning how to swim."

Some local swim clubs do succeed in drawing Hispanic swimmers. Eleven-year-old Emily Lopez-Diaz swims for the YMCA of South Florida Barracudas in the Miami area. Her father, Josue Lopez, estimates that about 30 percent of the team is Latino.

Lopez doesn't consider himself much of a swimmer, but that hasn't stopped him from becoming an integral part of his daughter's swimming community.

"I was surprised because I didn't really know that I was one of the best," says Emily Lopez-Diaz about winning a bronze medal in a regional competition last year.

Naomi Lopez

"I get excited," he says. "Whenever she is swimming, I am cheering for her."

And his daughter is thriving. In a regional competition last year, Lopez-Diaz won a bronze medal for the 50-meter backstroke.

"I felt like I was really accomplished and I was proud of myself," Lopez-Diaz says. "I was surprised because I didn't really know that I was one of the best."

It may seem unsurprising that Miami, with its large Hispanic population, would have a swim team that succeeds in attracting a more diverse group of swimmers.

But there are other parts of the country where large Hispanic populations remain mostly separate from swimming culture.

According to Merari Chollette, the diversity chair of Potomac Valley Swimming around Washington, D.C., of 11,533 athletes swimming in clubs under the PVC umbrella, only 76 identified themselves as Hispanic. This, despite the fact that Hispanics make up 14 percent of the D.C. area population.

She knows that the true number of Latino swimmers is likely higher since many choose not to identify ethnicity on forms. But it is still far from where she would like it to be.

"We want every child to feel that this is a sport they can participate in," she says.

Chollette is finding that for some non-English speakers, language is a barrier — people are hesitant to become part of a community where they can't speak with others.

For some, the financial commitment may be a challenge. To address that barrier, Potomac Valley Swimming set up a grant program for this upcoming year.

"Training in this sport can be very expensive. It can cost as much as $1,500 to $4,000 a year for swim team fees in the Washington metropolitan area," says Chollette.

But she also says that swimmers shouldn't be discouraged by the financial hurdle. Some clubs like YMCAs charge significantly lower fees and many clubs have funding to offer scholarships and financial assistance.

Promoting Pool Access

All successful competitive swimmers have one thing in common: access to a pool as a kid.

The USA Swimming Foundation is making swimming more accessible through their Make a Splash Initiative. The program provides funding to local swim lesson-providers to raise awareness about water safety and offer swim instruction to children who otherwise couldn't afford it. More than 3.4 million children have received swim lessons through this program.

For children who want to take the next step and swim competitively, USA Swimming has an outreach program that offers need-based discounted memberships.

Helen Garcia began her swimming career at the age of 5 when her family moved to South Gate, Calif., from East Los Angeles.

Helen Garcia is the head coach of Albany Armada Aquatics in Calif. Her parents encouraged her to swim as a child even though they didn't know how themselves.

Her parents, who grew up in Mexico, didn't know how to swim, although her father has since learned from watching Garcia and her three brothers.

There was a pool in their new neighborhood that offered affordable programming, so her father signed his children up for lessons.

Garcia feels lucky that her family happened to move near a pool. "There aren't a whole lot of indoor 50-meter pools out here," she says.

She also feels lucky that she happened to fall into an elite swimming program. When she was 12, her local team merged with another that was more competitive. In the first week, her new coach said that he saw her going to Junior Nationals in a year.

"I didn't even know what that was," she says. "There was a whole other level of swimming that I hadn't even tapped into."

Garcia did go on to compete at Junior Nationals at 13 and again at 14, when she broke the record in the 200-meter breaststroke. She later progressed to Senior Nationals and earned a scholarship to swim for the University of California, Berkeley.

Garcia is now the head coach of Albany Armada Aquatics in Albany, Calif., and owner of Helen's Happy Swim School in Oakland, Calif.

As she progressed in competitive swimming, most of her teammates were white. Now she's a member of the coaching community, which is also predominantly white.

USA Swimming has a mentoring program that helps coaches from or serving underrepresented groups to strengthen their coaching skills.

Caraveo is Garcia's mentor. He has visited her team and worked with her to troubleshoot training challenges.

"Just to see his enthusiasm about our team was just so wonderful," she says. "It's amazing to have that kind of mentorship and guidance."

Swimmer Cristina Teuscher Fabbri (third from left) with her family and coach John Collins (right) at the 1994 World Championships in Rome.

Identifying Role Models

"[Young swimmers] need to see somebody like them. A star. Somebody they can relate to," says Caraveo. "When I was growing up, it was Pablo Morales, a gold medalist. His family was from Cuba. For me, it was that his last name was Morales, and I could identify with that."

Another athlete who has served in that role is Cristina Teuscher Fabbri. She won gold at the 1996 Olympics in the 4x200 meter freestyle relay and bronze at the 2000 Olympics in the 200-meter individual medley.

Teuscher Fabbri, whose parents are from Argentina, grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y., with Spanish as her first language.

"I just took to swimming at an early age," she says. "When I was a baby and fussy, my mom would stick me in the kitchen sink with water. It's just something that calmed me."

She didn't have Latina swimming role models growing up. Her heroes were Janet Evans and Summer Sanders. "You identify with the part of yourself that's like [them]," she says. "For me, I was born in this country, I swam with this team, I represented the United States."

And so on some level, Teuscher Fabbri didn't miss having Latina swimmers to look up to. "Someone doesn't have to be your same skin color to be a role model," she says.

But she also wonders whether the lack of other Latina swimmers in her world made it harder for her to embrace the strengths that she associates with her Latina identity.

"My strength was laughing and connecting with people when I got up on a block. I didn't do that at first," she says. "I was trying to be what I thought a tough American swimmer was supposed to be."

Looking back, she thinks John Collins, the coach who brought her to the Olympics, would have understood her better if there were more Latinos on the team. His coaching style was tough. When she first started swimming for him, he told her they couldn't be friends.

"But whatever," she says. "We took him into my family. That's just the Latino way."

Foot flexibility for swimmers. Student study in 1982-83

| Equipment

Grad School Research

While at Baylor University in grad school, 1982-83, as a Physical Education graduate assistant, I had a keen interest in researching flexibility. With our swim programs, we had done a lot of partner stretching and a few routines were favorites and were taught to the swimmers on the teams that I coached.

Prior clinics had exposed me to a Canadian swim coach, Derrick Snelling. His exercises sparked my interest and turned this into a bit of a passion for around the pool deck. 

The research subjects included the the undergraduate students in a few of the swimming classes that were part of the physical education requirement at Baylor. As graduate students, we taught those classes. Furthermore, the B.U. men and women swimmers at Baylor were tested. And, testing occurred at a NCAA swim meet that Baylor attended along with five other college teams, men and women. 


1) Swimmer / athlete sits on floor.

2) With a straighten leg and without knee bend, and heel of the foot was set upon a wooden block. Its height was the width of a standard lumber 2-by-4. 

3) While keeping knee straight (not elevating up with a bend), and while keeping the foot in a straight line with hip/knee/ankle, a measurement was taken from end of the nail on big toe to the floor in millimeters. with a metric ruler. 

4) Both feet were measured.

5) The  first attempt counted. No re-do. No warm up. No pre-limbering nor stretching. I discovered that re-test measures within the same session didn't hold significant differences. The flex test results were able to be radically improved upon by those with poor foot-and-ankle flexibility after some pre-stretching. Those with poor results could improve to normative ranges. Rather than trying to control for the warm-up period, the measurements were taken at first blush. This made the test quick and easy to administer and also gave a larger diversity of results from best to worse.


All of the best kickers and fastest swimmers (top 10%) were the most flexible. 

If the swimmer could make a toe-point measure of 12 or fewer millimeters from floor on the measurement, that person's flexibility would be in the top 25% of the squads.

Of interest: That meet's high-point swimmer had the most flexible toe point.

The measurement goal for swimmers to striving for was < 10 mm. Anything better than 10 mm was not causing much of a distinction in kick-speed performances. 

Those with average, below-average and poor ankle flexibility were never the top 10% in kick performances. There was no significance among their misery with lack of swiftness. 

If you desire more insights, email me,

Long-term awareness

In the end, I discovered for myself that there were dozens of reasons why researchers are wise to avoid hanging their hat of professional advancements on the grossly-vague endeavor of researching human flexibility.

Workout: Twelve Days of Christmas

| Swim

Words of the original song (click to expand)

The following swim practice is written for our middle school girls team at The Ellis School. It hasn’t been tested in the water, just yet.

Throw-back, traditional, holiday style includes the repeats

In the traditional song, every preceding line gets repeated with each new verse and a new line is added. The same is to occur with this version of the workout.

On the first day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me:

  1. One no-breath flip turn.

On the second day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me:

  • Two two-hand touches.
  • One no-breath flip turn.

On the third day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me:

  • Three fist-pumps of emotion.
  • Two two-hand touches.
  • One no-breath flip turn.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me:

  • Four pool-side press-ups.
  • Three fist-pumps of emotion.
  • Two two-hand touches.
  • One no-breath flip turn.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me:

  • Five seconds rest.
  • Four pool-side press-ups.
  • Three fist-pumps of emotion.
  • Two two-hand touches.
  • One no-breath flip turn.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me:

  • Six various stroke drills. *
  • Five seconds rest.
  • Four pool-side press-ups.
  • Three fist-pumps of emotion.
  • Two two-hand touches.
  • One no-breath flip turn.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me:

  • Seven strokes of partner-pulling        (or kicking)
  • Six various stroke drills. *
  • Five seconds rest.
  • Four pool-side press-ups.
  • Three fist-pumps of emotion.
  • Two two-hand touches.
  • One no-breath flip turn.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me:

  • Eight descending 25s.
  • Seven strokes of partner-pulling        (or kicking).
  • Six various stroke drills. *
  • Five seconds rest.
  • Four pool-side press-ups.
  • Three fist-pumps of emotion.
  • Two two-hand touches.
  • One no-breath flip turn.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me:

  • Nine underwater fly kicks after a dive.
  • Eight descending 25s.
  • Seven strokes of partner-pulling        (or kicking).
  • Six various stroke drills. *
  • Five seconds rest.
  • Four pool-side press-ups.
  • Three fist-pumps of emotion.
  • Two two-hand touches.
  • One no-breath flip turn.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me:

  • Ten med-ball trunk-twists.
  • Nine underwater fly kicks after a dive.
  • Eight descending 25s.
  • Seven strokes of partner-pulling        (or kicking).
  • Six various stroke drills. *
  • Five seconds rest.
  • Four pool-side press-ups.
  • Three fist-pumps of emotion.
  • Two two-hand touches.
  • One no-breath flip turn.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me:

  • Eleven lengths of backstroke.
  • Ten med-ball trunk-twists.
  • Nine underwater fly kicks after a dive.
  • Eight descending 25s.
  • Seven strokes of partner-pulling        (or kicking).
  • Six various stroke drills. *
  • Five seconds rest.
  • Four pool-side press-ups.
  • Three fist-pumps of emotion.
  • Two two-hand touches.
  • One no-breath flip turn.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me:

  • Twelve 100-yard I.M.s. **
  • Eleven lengths of backstroke.
  • Ten med-ball trunk-twists.
  • Nine underwater fly kicks after a dive.
  • Eight descending 25s.
  • Seven strokes of partner-pulling        (or kicking).
  • Six various stroke drills. *
  • Five seconds rest.
  • Four pool-side press-ups.
  • Three fist-pumps of emotion.
  • Two two-hand touches.
  • One no-breath flip turn.


Insights on the last day

** On the final day, coach can modify the 100-yard IMs to be “X-yard IMs” where X-yard could equal 100-yard IMs, or, 200-yard IMs, or even 400-yard IMs. Even 50-yard IMs and 25-yard IMs are possible depending upon the time and workout desires. So, with 12 x 25-yard IMs the total distance is 300-yards.  With 12 x 400-yard IMs the total distance for the Twelfth day is 5,200 yards.

Insights on the sixth day

* The sixth day has six various stoke drills. This set gets to be revisited seven different times, and can be tagged, 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d, 6e, 6f. and 6g.

Suggestions and option follow, but coaches can be creative in their various forms of stroke drills.

6a, part of Sixth day

First time through introduce six stroke drills for freestyle. Do a different stroke drill each length for a total of 150-yards.

  1. Catch-up
  2. Fist-hands
  3. Breathing pattern 3
  4. Head up
  5. Zig-zag 5
  6. Extra-hard flutter kicking.
6b, part of Seventh day

On the second time, do three stoke drills in one length. So, one-third of the length is done with catch-up stroke drill, middle-third of the length with fists drill, and last third in a breathing every 3rd arm recovery drill. Likewise, length, put in the next three drills with each drill fitting within one-third of a length. The total distance shrinks to 50-yards. But, the brain-power and use of the drills is maintained.

6C, Part of eighth day

The next sixth day, do three stroke drills all in unison and at the same time for one length. The the next length do three other stroke drills, all at the same time. It is a combo drill. First length is catch-up and fists and breathing every 3rd recover. Second length is head-up and zig-zag 5 and with extra hard flutter kicking.

6D, part of Ninth day

Introduce five different stroke drills for butterfly. Do one each length. Then on the sixth length, try to do all of the five prior stroke drills at the same time.

6E, part of tenth day

Introduce five different stroke drills for backstroke. Do one each length. Then on the sixth length, try to do all of the five prior stroke drills at the same time.

6F, part of Eleventh day

Introduce five different stroke drills for breastroke. Do one each length. Then on the sixth length, try to do all of the five prior stroke drills at the same time.

6G, part of last day

On the last day, go “choice.” Swimmers get to pick their own strokes and stroke drills.


  • Whole set delivers 550 yards of backstroke on day 11.
  • Total of 30 med ball truck twists.
  • 4 x 9 dives with underwater fly kicking (Bob Gillett style)
  • 5 sets of 8 x 25 descending = 1,000 yards
  • 36 press ups
  • 12 flip turns without breathing

Let us know what you changed and how it turned out.

Other holiday examples of note

Click to see full sized image.

chutes & ladders practice

Chutes & Ladders on a white board, played with big, blow-up dice.


Triumph Time Try-Outs, a bonding experience in the swim pool with both adults and youngsters.

| Concept Map

Young people learn to walk, talk and hopefully read and pray at home with the help of their guardians, siblings, parents and other friends and family members. A similar progression with swimming can unfold when we teach kids swimming in a team setting.

Young kicker in pool with grandfather

Young swimmer from PPS Dillworth gets his head in the water with a kickboard with the support of some swim fins and his grandfather while at Saturday Swim School on the Northside.

Triumph Time Try Outs are opportunities to problem solve with both kids and adults.

Buddie swims refer to friendships and a relationship between two people who hold mutual affection for each other.

older plans, vintage 2002, still valid

Years ago, swimming activities featuring kids and adults were delivered to Pittsburgh Public Schools. Sadly, little happened.

Repeat approaches, by-and-large, put some aquatic programs into action. Sports dystopia dives into the struggle and negative views.


Parent Engagement Centers (PEC) were once a push with Pittsburgh Public Schools. They came and went. Footnote, a present-day City Council member, Theresa Kail Smith, was a PPS employee who ran the PEC on the west side of town at Langley.

More recently, Pittsburgh Public Schools launched the concept of “Community Schools.” The elected school board pushed for community schools and passed a pilot program enacted in Dr. Linda Lane’s final year as PPS Superintendent.

When Dr. Anthony Hamlet’s arrival as Pittsburgh Public Schools’ superintendent, five schools were designated and re-branded as “PPS Community Schools.” Three of the five schools have swimming pools: Westinghouse (great pool), Langley (small pool), Arsenal (small pool).

A new central office employee, LouAnn Ross, was hired to lead and manage the PPS Community Schools program. Upon her arrival, and then a year later, offers to construct new community schools swim programs were delivered to her, and even to a couple of the local school booster committees. Nothing was done. Then she departed.

A new search was conducted and a different PPS central-office employee has been hired. New hope comes with Monte Robinson, mrobinson2@. Meeting slated in January 2019.

In 2018, there was a swim team at Arsenal. At the start of 2019, the swim team at Arsenal died. Likewise, there used to be an elementary swim team at Langley, and it didn’t appear at the December 2018 PPS Championship meet. Westinghouse still offers only a middle school swim team and didn’t facilitate any after-school swimming nor diving in the fall of 2018 despite attempts to do so. Outcomes have slid from bad to worse in the recent years.

The hook

Everyone knows that student success hinges upon parent and guardian participation in the educational journey of the students. Success at school comes as parents, guardians, grand-parents and other significant adults are engaged with the kids. Mentoring is big. The annual PPS event, Take a Father to School Day, is a shinning star in these efforts.

Swim pools can provide a great place for kids and their guardians to work together — for everyone’s benefit. The public school facilities, including PPS swimming pools, are under utilized in the evenings, nights, weekends, holidays and summers.

Generally, school activities separate the kids from the parents.

Home-schooling is frowned upon by many of the public school system, including teachers.

Parent-teacher meetings and various open house activities happen, but with low-levels of support from the adults at home.

Men standing to watch a swim meet

Some dads take off from work to watch a 3 pm swim meet at a PPS swim pool.

New approach

Let’s get parents and guardians invites into the school facilities so that they can enjoy themselves, have fun and be a part of inspiring, socially-rich experiences with the kids. Adults and kids can share in programs together with repeating events so progress can occur and relationships forged. As trust ensues, the interactions can be elevated to other educational topics.

Let’s establish time for interactions for kids and adults to triumph together!


Triumph Try-Outs

Swim lessons engaging students with adults accompaniment,
Trimuph Try-Outs, are one-shot swim lessons where students and adults participate together. Kids can not sign-up without being matched with an adult. The activities presented are geared to student and adult couples.

These Try-Outs have little to do with the athletes impressing the coaches and program leaders. The coaches are not testing and evaluating the students. Rather, the real try-out is for the participants (the students, parents, mentors, citizens, taxpayers) to try-out an engagement at the swim pool with a learning setting.

Easily Understood

People understand “swim lessons.” Swim lessons have always been a valued summer-time activity. Learning to swim is fun as well as a skill that saves lives. Pittsburgh is a city of three rivers and lots of swimming pools. However, few of our kids are competent swimmers. A tremendous need exists in this program category.

Bonus in Flexibility

Triumph Try-Outs can be held at any time, morning, noon, night. Indoor pools that are out of the sun and without weather disruptions are ideal. Under utilized swim facilities can use the Try-Outs as an ice-breaker so as to migrate additional activities to these swim facilities in the seasons to come. Triumph Try-Outs present a capacity building opportunity for outreach.

One Shot, Easy Engagement

Triumph Try-Outs are one-shot events. Participants show up, do the activities, and then they are finished. There is no long-term commitment involved.

Subject and Object of the Try-Outs

In a traditional Try-Out setting, the coaches and program leaders put the want-a-be players on display in a competition. The players strive for a position in the draft or on the team. The Triumph Try-Outs reverse the roles and inject a new realm of priorities. The customer and buyers have roles that are flip-flopped.

The consumer, taxpayer, students get to Try-Out the coaches, activities, facilities, and to a large extent, the sincerity of the districts’ emphasis on “parental and community involvement.” The Triumph Try-Outs give a proving ground for the establishment of different priorities and can foster new relationship experimentation.

Parent involvement is a growing concern and focus for the overall health of the educational process. District wide elements for parent advisory actions are skeptical to the citizens. School board members are elected from fractions of the voters. Parents generally get concerned about the schools where their kids attend.

Transferable skills

A relationship priority is present as students and adults try-out one another. The bond between mentor and mentee can be challenged in different settings. Going to the pool can present a two-hour Outward-Bound-like gateway for the matched participants. The swimming is a escape and presents some bonding time. The foundation and the approach to the challenges can transcend beyond the swim pool setting.

Many different mentor programs exist in Pittsburgh. These Try-Outs can be an on-going way to get meaningful interactions among the volunteer mentors and the students.

Put swimming, teamwork and technology into the hearts of the participants.

The overall aquatics program at Pittsburgh Public Schools can evolve and be a source of great benefits to individuals and community if there is a sense of self-discovery, safe learning, supportive involvement. But finding a drop of political among decision makers has been an on-going challenge for decades.

Water and sports town

Various public institutions in southwestern Pennsylvania have swimming pools with available times. Some pools are in high schools. Other pools are in middle schools. Pools are at all the corners of the district including colleges, libraries and recreational sites. Getting two-hour blocks of time for the use of the pools is an easy task. However, getting citizens from one area to visit others facilities around town, or else even in their own neighborhood is a challenge. The swim pools and these Try-Outs can be good motivators to get the community engaged at different pools.

District schedules can be established for Triumph Try-Outs. If a family is busy on a Friday night when a Try-Out is slated for that student’s school, that couple could take in a session slated for Saturday at another school. The schools and pools can be open and friendly places for the citizens.

The success and long-term impact of PPS Community Schools hinges on the draw of the activities to the parents, guardians and citizens. And, a great way to get the participation is to offer a meaningful recreational activity with dynamic coaching leadership.

To accompany is to go or be together. Accompaniment is to perform together. Accompaniment occurs for a richer effect. The accompanist is the person who plays the accompaniment.


The accompaniment concept enriches the lesson plan with the Triumph Try-Outs. Our students and children need to understand and appreciate that they can set out on life with background helpers at home, accompaniment. It takes a village. Triumphs do not happen in isolation. Support networks need to be visited, tested, understood, and explored.

Adult accompaniment can be from a parent. But, any adult can come to these sessions. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors, big brothers, and mentors are welcomed. Perhaps the high school students and varsity athletes could accompany middle-school and elementary school students. We might have a list of adults who want to join and accompany. Some adults could manage two or three children so that each student has guidance and a potential partner.

Open-Ended Lessons

The Triumph Try-Outs offer participants repeat-worthy periods. Repeat attendance is welcomed as the lesson-plans flow from an open-ended structure. Each Try-Out lesson has different activities, new games, different skills.

Learning to swim and being fit is a lifelong endeavor.

A couple could sign-up and participate in ten Try-Outs in the course of the summer and have great experiences multiple times. Enjoy on-going results.


Detailed lesson plans are posted in advance of the sessions. Advanced understanding of the themes of the practice helps to prepare the students and attract more participation. For example, a class on flip-turns is going to be an attraction for some. People will go out of their way to attend a Try-Out if they have a peek at the agenda. Advance postings of lesson agendas insure participants that activities are not the same-old same old.

  • Class period length, 120-minutes.
  • Lifeguard needed.
  • Lifeguard staff is provided by the organizers.
  • Participants bring swim suits, swim goggles, beach towel and t-shirt.
  • On-line sign-ups are encouraged. RSVP as space is limited
  • On-line attendance is posted as some sessions may “fill.”
  • Class capacity depends, in part, upon facility. Various pools have various amounts of deck space, seating areas, water space.
  • Class capacity depends, in part, upon coaching staffing and administration elements.
  • Typical Try-Out registration limit is 30 student and adult couples.

Suite of activities serving aquatic, athletic and academic missions.

  • Engagement among the children and adults in meaningful lifelong learning within the PPS buildings.
  • Play matters.
  • Promote and pilot a new wave to learning and self-discovery.
The interplay among the various programs and the overall method matters

Efforts and structures are needed to migrate the participants to various levels at various ages  throughout this lifelong learning process.

The children within Pittsburgh can have a much richer experience with the activities with the creation of buddies that are nearby as well as buddies that are farther away. Our program in Pittsburgh can become a buddie with the programs around the region and nation.

A healthy and vibrant network of buddies should have nodes that are close and other notes that are remote. These concepts take a proactive stance on forming connections in our web of life and aquatics with friends at all levels.

  • Adult Accompaniment Swimming Lessons
  • One never step into the same river twice. The open-ended Try-Out agenda welcomes repeat participants.
  • Sign-up early and often.

Recreational Reading and SKWIM game play, two activities with two settings

Students spend time at the school, hopeful in a library near computers. Then the students walk to a local pool.

  • No buses needed.
  • Half-Days: 8:30 am to noon, Noon to 5 pm
  • Many locations exist
  • Registration required
  • Ages: 6 to 16
  • New USA Swimming Registration needed per swimmer. Flex membership costs $20 for annual fee.
  • Equipment: goggles, fins, disks, caps, headbands, swim suits, t-shirts, workbooks, goals, web assets. Most can be supplied by organizers.
Rec Reading & Olympicpedia
  • Reading of maps, email, web sites, charts, quiz taking, online courses and digital movies.
  • Writing of email, fitness journal, concept maps, Frequently Asked Questions and Answers.
  • Daily homework and thinking exercises.

Huddle time: 8:30 am
Early Lesson: 8:40 am
Walk, stretch, exercise: 9:15
Swim: 9:30
Walk: 11:30
Late Lesson: 11:40
lunch: 12:15
optional library time: after lunch

Concept Map showing the sweet spot destination

The entire community, kids and adults, can be included. Non swimmers take swim lessons but also wear life jackets and get into Canoe Water Polo. Kayak and paddle activities work with everyone. But the golden destination is inter-generational game play.

The entire community, kids and adults, can be included. Non swimmers take swim lessons but also wear life jackets and get into Canoe Water Polo. Kayak and paddle activities work with everyone. But the golden destination is inter-generational game play.

FINA Convention

| Diving

It’s not just about medals

When FINA is mentioned, most people envisage the FINA World Cup and FINA World Championships. It is sometimes forgotten that FINA – as the International Governing Body of the Aquatics industry – also provides invaluable information and support to those involved in the sport.

Over the last 3 days, the Convention brought up some very topical issues within the Aquatics world. Two excellent examples were Swimming for Life (FINA Development programmes) and Innovative approaches to teaching swimming (Myrtha Pools).

Perhaps Brazilian Olympic swimmer Thiago Pereira summarises it best: ‘Swimming is the only sport that saves life.’

FINA is not just about organising large events with the world’s best athletes. It has a duty of care to educate swimming coaches and teachers on the best ways to get their students in the water and safe in the water. As Carl Partridge from AUSTSWIM puts it, ‘we teaches teachers to teach’.

With sessions like this at the Convention, a fundamental life skill is promoted which will be spread around the world and consequently save lives.

“We’re taking away relationships and connections with coaches from around the world – connections that would never have been possible without this event.”
Sebastian Weber, Head of Human Performance, INSCYD

An abundance of culture

The Convention, with attendees from 209 National Federations, enjoyed a rich variety of cultures and provided a fantastic opportunity to listen and learn from different global perspectives.

This year’s delegates were afforded the chance to hear insights from some of the world’s best coaches, including two well-known and well-respected Chinese coaches. It is unusual to gain such access, especially with Tokyo 2020 less than 600 days away.

“Pride. We’re proud to be able to confidently say that Arena is a truly global brand which resonates across many different countries. It’s been amazing to get such valuable feedback from coaches and Federations all over the world.”
Mizu Yamada, Brand Manager, Arena

FINA is more than Swimming

Undoubtedly, Swimming is one of the most popular sports in the Olympics, yet it is not the only sport FINA governs. From Artistic Swimming to Diving, Open Water Swimming to Water Polo, there is much to be shared by experts in these disciplines.

One great example from the Convention – Extraordinary Technical Water Polo Congress – saw an hour-long session with 23 Water Polo experts offer insight into and advice about the sport.

First-time exhibitors KAP7 – “Built for Water Polo Players by Water Polo Players” – definitely made their mark in Hangzhou.

“This event has allowed us to expand our network at the very top level of international swimming. In our business, relationships are critical and we’re always thankful to be able to participate in this event.”
Yiota Charalambous, Operations Manager, Arena Sports Cyprus

Life-long connections

‘The Number 1 reason we attend the FINA Convention? Networking,’ says Lindsay Hoffman, Vice President of SUITMATE.

Networking at the Convention does of course offer commercial opportunities – but more than that, it offers friendship too. In a unique environment, where exhibitors meet and connect, life-long friendships are made.

“Friendship. This event allows us to get to know our international colleagues and Aquatics stakeholders better – developing stronger relationships and ultimately friendships.”
Marco Coesel, CEO, Variopool


With a record-breaking number of attendees, and access to world-class speakers, the 2018 Convention was ground-breaking.

Access to the Chinese market has been a rare and exciting opportunity.

Aquatics has come a long way, and events like the FINA Convention help us achieve the best possible future for Aquatics.

FINA World Aquatics Convention
FINA Office
Chemin de Bellevue 24a/24b
1005 Lausanne

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.

Swim News delivered to PPS Elementary School Swim Meet

| Invite

Dear Swim Coaches, Swimmers, Guardians and Families:

All are invited to participate in our Saturday Swim School hosted for the next few weeks at Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Allegheny Middle School on the Northside right across the street from the Aviary.

Meet us at the pool, both kids and adults, from 11:30 am to 1 pm. No charge. This is a “labor of love.”

11:30 to 1 pm on Saturday, December 8 & December 15, 2018

Location: In December 2018, we’ll be at PPS Allegheny.

We held the Saturday Swim School for the past two years at Oliver High School on Brighton Road, but the pool there has been out of commission throughout the fall of 2018, sadly. Perhaps we’ll go back to Oliver HS in early 2019.

Activities: On Saturdays, we have some swim instruction and often play a game in the pool called SKWIM. It is with a water disk but a lot like water polo too. To learn more about SKWIM, see

Kids and Adults are able to participate from 11:30 to 1 pm.

Adults, Triathletes and Varsity high school swimmers looking improve and gain in fitness and are able to swim on Saturdays from 9:30 to 11:30 am. We run two sessions on Saturdays.

Being a good swimmer makes you safe and can lead to becoming a lifeguard in the future. We train lifeguards in the spring at the Saturday Swim School too.

Being safe in and around the water, especially at the beach and in other settings beyond an indoor swim pool with lifeguards, should be a goal for all citizens. We want you to test your AQUATIC KNOWLEDGE with a fun, online quiz. There are FOUR levels. Free. See to click on the quiz and learn more about rip-currents and test your decision-making.

Extra: We also do programs on Sundays at Moon High School, Tuesday nights at Chartiers Valley High School, play water polo in the fall at South Park High School, and swim at many outdoor pools in the summers including at the Pittsburgh Project on the Northside on Charles Street and at Citiparks Ammon Rec pool on Bedford Ave in The Hill District. Stay in touch with an email or visit,

Thanks for your interest and keep on swimming!

Coach Mark Rauterkus of Pittsburgh’s South Side
412-298-3432 = cell

PPS ATA swim pool with lilypad and boy and disks

Play at Allegheny Traditional Academy MS pool in an afterschool program. Boys love their toys. We create, engage ourselves, build, balance and have fun. Who knows what we’ll be doing next.


Questions from a parent

I received a flyer about swimming yesterday for my daughter from a Pittsburgh Public School. We are interested in the swim program from 11:30-1 but wanted more information.

Are adults expected to get on the pool with their kids? Do children need to be able to swim to participate? Is their a younger age cut off (can my 4 year old participate)?

Thank you for offering this program.


Adults do not need to get in. I encourage it. I aim for that family experience as it is different, and I feel valuable. Most adults just watch. Some get in.

With the wee one at 4, I would really like the adult to get in, but you would need to be present. I don’t expect many to be there however.

Thank you for your speedy reply.

Just to be clear my four year old would not be able to participate if I do not get in the pool? I do not plan on getting in the pool and we will not attend if that is the case.

Both my 6 year old and 4 year old have taken previous swimming lessons and were (Its been a long time since summer) comfortable in the water but cannot actually swim.

And again thank you I think it is great you are offering this opportunity for the children in Pittsburgh.


Since I don’t think we’ll have many folks there this Saturday — I’m okay to get in with your kids without you in the water this week for a part of the time — for sure for about 30-minutes. Can you come around 10:30 or 11 am? I don’t want to have a dozen middle school kids (doubtful) and the wee one’s get a bad experience. I don’t expect that they’ll want to be swimming much past 40-minutes total anyway.

Good to be able to meet you and start up something with them.

I’m flexible for sure. But this is a wide-ranging invite. No scout groups, football squads or lifeguard classes are happening / booked in December.


I looked around on the website on the flyer some but was not able to find some information. Can you tell more more about the program in general. From what I understand this is just a free trial but you offer swim lessons throughout the year? I saw on the calendar the Saturday Swim School for kids and adults on the 8th and 15th but it also looks like it is on there for the 22nd so I am assuming you would have to pay for that one? How much are lessons usually? Or is it always just a free program? Are parents expected to swim during normal swim lessons (I really hate getting in pools in winter, I don’t know why, haha)?

My daughter is also in a Girl Scouts Troop. Can you give me more information about a troop signing up for programming? What is the cost, what does it involve, are parents expected to get in the pool, etc.?

Thank you for your time.


The swim lessons I offer throughout the school year on Saturdays have been free for three years. I don’t expect to charge anything any time soon. Some of the places we go to need a small fee, such as Moon Area HS pool on some Sundays is $2 for a drop in fee.

Girls Scouts are welcome. Just call ahead. No charge. I want to figure out what day and be sure I’m there (no wedding / away swim meet). And, — sadly — what pool is available. We had done it at Oliver. Had to shift to Allegheny. Both are fine, but there is more room at Oliver for larger groups.

I am alone — so yes — we’d want to build up a host of volunteers with the kids in the water. I wouldn’t want to handle a whole girl scout group — say more than 6 — without another adult or two. Best if adults are in the water and I’m out of it even.

I do have some other guard friends to call.

Sure. Let’s plan something. We’ll go all the way through May, I expect.