All posts in "Swimming"

Girls Swim Team at Obama stays in Class AAA for the next two years. Ugh.

Published a few months ago in PPS , Swimming - 0 Comments

The PIAA enrollment numbers for the schools have been published for all the sports. These figures have the school's population by boys and girls, sorta. The actual number used by the PIAA isn't the true enrollment. They ask schools to report the number of students in grades 9, 10 and 11 only. Then there is some 10% figure or something. I'm not certain how this is calculated, exactly. Plus, there might be some adjustments for home school kids too, perhaps. 

But the big number then is the second column that shows the Co-op Enrollment. That number is valid as some schools join forces with other schools and they field only one team. In the case of Pittsburgh Public Schools, all the sports teams at Pittsburgh Obama also provide a chance to allow the students at Pittsburgh Sci-Tech and U-Prep too. So, the Obama numbers include the enrollment figures from three schools. 

The various sports then have classifications. Some sports, such as football, have six classes from A to 6A. Other sports, as is the case with swimming, there are only two classes, Double A and Triple A. So, the bigger schools end up in Class AAA while the smaller schools are in together in class AA. 

The classes set up the sections for dual meets and also play a big role in the district and state championships. 

Bigger schools, more students to pick from, generally larger teams and faster cut-times to get into the WPIAL Class AAA meet rather than the Class AA. 

Would you rather compete against North Allegheny and Upper St. Clair or else against The Ellis School and Carlynton? 

Shows the girls swimming table. Obama Academy is in Class 3A.

Shows the boys swimming table. Obama Academy is in Class 2A.

The ramifications of this are huge. And, it is not only a factor for the girls, but also for the boys. Throughout the year, the boys swimmers go to the dual meets with the Class AAA teams as the boys and girls can't have different schedules -- generally. 

The solutions are clear to me and can be spelled out in another time, when I have a few minutes to explain what should be done.

Two major policies changed for this year’s (2019-20) Obama Varsity Swimmers

Published a few months ago in PPS , Swimming - 0 Comments

Check out the swim schedule for the Obama High School swimmers: High School Swim Team Schedule

  • M: 6-7:20; 3:30-5:00 (morning and afternoon)
  • T: 3:30 - 5:00 (afternoon only)
  • W: 6:00-7:20 (morning only)
  • R: 3:30 - 5:00 (afternoon only)
  • F: 6:00-7:20 (morning only) 

Source of the news, reposted.

​​The schedule is significant for a few reason.

First of all, there is now a return to AM Swim Practices. In my final year at Obama, the rookie principal outlawed the AM practices. Go figure. This year the kids get to swim at 6 am on M-W-F. Wonderful news. The stupid policy of no AM Swim Practices has been changed. 

Secondly, there is now AFTER SCHOOL varsity practices at 3:30. That is HUGE.

Sadly, after-school swimming for high school athletes is only being held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But, this was a pressing issue that needed attention for the final years of my tenure as a varsity coach because the HS swim team was not granted any space in the swim pool after school -- until 6 pm. That was crazy bad. And, the principals were nearly criminal in their closed-mindedness in even talking about solutions to this issue.

The issue is that the middle-school swim team at Obama, for grades 6, 7 and 8, had the pool from 4 to 5 pm. Plus there was the other little issue of physical education classes getting the pool or booking the pool and not really using it.

When Schenley Spartan were around and the new 6-12 format was in practice at Reizenstein, the level-headed building principal had it figured out and we resolved the issue so kids could swim in a reasonable way after school.

Things are easier when there are fewer and fewer kids on the team too. The 60 kids on the middle school swimming team were driven off by poor coaching for years and the MS team was but a handful of kids, as was the HS squad. All in all, looks like they are not trying to wipe out the team as two policies have changed -- slightly.

Wondering now about AM swimming at Sci-Tech?

I was wondering about the PIAA enrollment numbers for 2020-21 for swimming for boys and girls too, given the co-op. That answer is posted at PIAA and is the subject of another blog post. Another bad policy there -- did not change. 

Obama's girls are in Class AAA again in 2020, for the second year. Plus, years three and four are happening as well. Meanwhile, the boys stay in Class AA. See that other post for the details.  

Weekends are necessary for sporting success

Published last year in Pittsburgh , PPS , Schools , Support , Swimming - 0 Comments
NO on wall

Being fit, and being an athlete, requires weekend workouts. 

Kids and families want the weekend workouts. 

Hill District Rebels practice group

Age group football teams gather on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year. This is a posting on Facebook in March calling for weekend practices -- and it is liked by more than 50 people.

Winter Tri Practices

Meanwhile, in the northern reaches of western Pennsylvania, at Slippery Rock University, the kid triathletes are working on their swimming, biking, running and transitions at a clinic on the weekends too!

Videos and images of an indoor Tri workout with work on transitions in the gym

Weekend Tri Practice at Slippery Rock University with the group from Joella.


The swim pool at Obama Academy sits empty on Saturdays and Sundays. No swimming allowed. No pool permit ever permitted by the schools principals.

Not at Pittsburgh Obama, however

Since the opening weeks of Pittsburgh Obama Academy, the principals prohibited Saturday practices for the various swimming programs. First it was Dr. Wayne Walters. Then it was Principal Colbert. Neither would sign-off on the necessary paperwork to allow for practices in the swimming pool. No pool permits were ever granted for varsity and middle school students who attended the school for any Saturdays. 

Total discrimination, for years. And, each year, the issues were raised.

Other schools have Saturday practices and even many have Saturday meets. Not at Obama. 

As a result of these roadblocks from the principals, the team often had to make other arrangements. Obama would hold practices at Arsenal Middle School. And, then the route was for the creation of the Saturday Swim School at other schools. Practices were shifted elsewhere, including Oliver High School and Allegheny Middle School

Go figure.

Frustrations hurt the students. In the 2017-18 season, the lack of permits for use of the swimming pool also was extended to AM Swim Practices, something that was done for the prior 10 years. 

Varsity squad on Saturday, January 13, 2013 at Arsenal Middle School because the Obama Principal would not grant access to the varsity swimmers at their own, home pool.

Varsity squad on Saturday, January 19, 2013 at Arsenal Middle School because the Obama Principal would not grant access to the varsity swimmers at their own, home pool.

“Be There” campaign from the United Way featured a video of our routine for AM Swim Practice

Published last year in Pittsburgh , PPS , Schools , Support , Swimming , Video - 0 Comments
Be there logo with the United Way

It is impossible to get the students to "Be there" when the principal continually refused to allow that to happen.
- Coach Mark Rauterkus concerning PPS Obama's Principal Colbert

PPS Students at Obama and Sci Tech were familiar with early morning swim practices 

Swim teams that are successful, generally have morning swim practices. We had morning practices at PPS Obama Academy and made this fun video that was for a campaign run by the United Way about "Being There!" The message was, show up for school. 

Before there was Obama, the swimmers at Frick Middle School had morning swim practices too. 

The swimmers at Allderdice, under the guidance of Coach Al Rose of the JCC Sailfish, hold early morning swim practices before school too. That's why the Allderdice swimmers can make it to the WPIAL Championships.

All morning swim practices at Obama Academy ended after Principal Colbert was hired. She killed them. 

The swim team was not allowed to hold AM Swim Practices in the 2017-18 school year, the first year of Ms. Colbert at the Obama Principal. She would not sign the permit as had been the case for the past 10+ years or so.

The writing was on the wall and not showing up on the pool permit requests.

Could not get a permit for holiday practices at Obama, until the good folks at central administration stepped in. 

  • Could not get a permit for AM swim practices at Obama.
  • Could not get a permit for any Saturday swim practices at Obama.
  • Could not get a permit for after-school water polo in September and October at Obama.
  • Could not get a permit for holiday practices at Obama, until the good folks at central administration stepped in. 
  • Could not get a permit for practices on the plentiful half-days of school with the students when the teachers do professional development. 

Sci-Tech Swimmers had AM Practices throughout the season

The Sci-Tech swimmers were mostly present and swam on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout, but the Monday, Wednesday and Friday practices for the Obama students didn't happen. 

The Sci-Tech swimmers are part of a sports co-op so those students are part of the Obama Varsity Teams. 

Of course, both boys and girls got to attend these AM swimming practices that were offered by the boys varsity coach. Furthermore, some times the middle school students could be included in with the morning practices as well, when permitted. Go figure.

The 2019 update, a new contest from a new school:

The United Way's campaign to "be there" got a new set of rules and a new launch in 2019. The video below is from The Ellis School's middle school swim team. 

Video shows how we want to represent PPS at the WPIAL Championships

Published last year in Pittsburgh , PPS , Swimming , Video - 0 Comments

Watch the video of the race. This is from Coach Mark's last season with the team, 2018. 

The Story Continues to the next year.

In the following year, the 2018-19 season, the first season without Coach Mark Rauterkus as the boys coach, none of the swimmers at Obama even qualified for the WPIAL Championships. Zero. No show for Obama. No relays. No individual swimmers. Nothing. 

Every year that the team was coach by Mark Rauterkus, the Obama boys varsity swimmers, and before that, the Schenley Spartans, represented Pittsburgh Public Schools at the WPIAL Championshps as well as the PIAA Championships. There were swimmers from the city, from Obama, that sent to STATES every season. 

After the coaching departure of Coach Mark Rauterkus -- Pittsburgh Public Schools got to save some money on hotel expenses as none were going to Lewisburg, PA, for the PIAA Meet. 

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