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Krystal Lara is one of very few Latinas in her class at Stuyvesant High School, and in the pool. She’s backstroking her way toward the Olympics.

From The New York Times:

Her Parents Thought Swimming Lessons Were a Good Idea

Krystal Lara is one of very few Latinas in her class at Stuyvesant High School, and in the pool. She’s backstroking her way toward the Olympics.…

Former Yale swimmer Siphiwe Baleka

Good video about former Yale swimmer Siphiwe Baleka


Cooperation plan for water polo players to join a swim team

In Pittsburgh, we have a local swim team called the Kingsley Stingrays. The team sends about 10 kids to USA Swim Meets any given month. At practices, there are generally 20 to 30. Some come. Some go. The kids use the team to build up for success at the high school level, mostly.


I wrote this plan to try to merge efforts in August. Swim meets are over. Water polo is just starting. Well, here are some ideas that you can perhaps leverage for your programs.


Sadly, the proposal didn't get accepted. The swim team folks didn't want to change from swimming laps to have the water polo join for a week.


Oh well. I'm a team builder. There will be other pools and other opportunities and other days.



From Mark Rauterkus

To Coach and Boosters of the Kingsley Stingrays


Working together, and August 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20th, 2010

Executive Summary:

1. I’d love to recruit swimmers and water polo players to join with the Stingrays in a week of specialized practices, August 16 to 20th, at Highland Park Pool.

2. I’d love to help coach at practices on Aug 16, 17, 18 and 20th. On Thursday, Aug 19th, I have a meeting with school principals and can NOT attend for the entire workout.

3. At practice, I’d love to have some modified training and lessons so as to blend some water polo into the workouts.

4. After swim practices, I’d love to lead some dry-land workouts -- so those intereted can get even more of a workout and we can become better at the skills and tactics of water polo. More details on this post-swim drylands below.

5. I do NOT want to be paid. And, I do not want to impose a fee on the participants. Rather, let’s make this a one week tryout for all concerned.

6. I would love to get a reply in the next 48 hours, at the latest. I we can not promote the practices by Thursday, it may be too late.

7. Contact me: Mark@Rauerkus.com -- cell = 412 298 3432.

Recruitment Details:

1a. This summer, I coached the PPS Summer Dreamers Campers from Peabody's site at Kingsley. We had dozens of kids swimming in the deep end who had not done that before. Others were okay at swimming already. I want to send an invite to all of the participants to come to Higland Park Pool with me for the week. These are kids going into middle school. I have some handouts from Saturday's City Meet. I'll make the rest of the copies myself.

1b. This summer, I coached a group of water polo players. We had practices from 10:30 to noon for five weeks at Peabody High School. I want those kids to come to practices for the week at Highland Park Pool too. This group includes my son, Grant, 12. As well as others you all know well, Frane and Burke.

1c. In the past winter, I coached at Pgh Schenley. I will encourage those swimmers to join with Kingsley and swim for the week. This includes Max O who has been a bit active with the Stingrays as well as others who had been on the team, Annie W, Tait W. Some others might join in.

1d. In the summer of 2009, I did make an effort to include Stingray kids into a joint program or else get them to join with our water polo efforts -- but the offer did not get cooperation from the Stingrays. We should change that now as we had a great water polo experience in 2009 at Ammon Pool and then Highland Park Pool and then Pgh Obama/Schenley and this included a game at IUP vs. a New Jersey Prep School, The Lawrenceville School. We have been invited back to play them again on Aug 28, 2010, and I'd love to get more Stingrays interested in an exposed to water polo.

1e. We will ask AMS to post info about the open practices to its web site. This did occur last year as well.

1f. I will use my blog and email list to pass the word to others about the opportunity for the week. This reaches more than 5,000 readers.

Helping at Practices:

2a. I will help on the pool deck at these swim practices for this week. I do not need to be paid. I will volunteer. My clearances are on file at Kingsley and PPS. I have WSI and Lifeguarding current.

Modified Training:

3a. Coach wants the swimmers to arrive ready to work. I agree. If anyone does not want to come in on time and do what is asked, they will be asked to leave.

3b. This will be a joint swimming and water polo practice -- but more for swimming conditioning.

In the 2-hours in the pool, expect distinct groups -- as there are lanes by ages and abilities now. Some swimmers, if not most, are out of condition. I can lead some stroke correction assistance to get the basic swimmers get started, especially in the first 30-40 minutes. Meanwhile, Coach can give the better swimmers a warm-up and a swim set or two. Water polo players need to be good swimmers and nearly all the water polo players are also competitive swimmers as well. In the second hour of the practice, we can do the following types of activities, helping both for swimming and water polo.

3c. Modified water polo drills with swimming can include:

- Kick with a water polo ball rather than a kick board.

- Kick egg beater kick rather than breast kick.

- Kick with a ball in hand over head.

- Swim with head up and water polo ball in front of face.

- Swim forward and then reverse directions on a whistle to change directions.

- Swim 3 strokes free + 3 strokes backstroke, repeating down the pool.

- Swim with a partner, giving them coverage.

- Kick against a partner with one going east and the other west for 10, 20 or 30 seconds.

- Swim with a water polo ball as a hand paddle

- Swim breast with a water polo ball infront of face.

- Swim to ball in a race and pick up the ball before the other swimmer in same lane.

- Swim to ball from different directions and pick up a ball placed between swimmers (faceoff)

- Pass ball to a partner in the same lane down the pool.

- Pass ball to a partner in next lane while swimming down the pool.

- Pass ball to a partner OVER a defender, each in his or her own lane.

(I understand that Kingsley only has HALF of the LONG COURSE POOL.)

- Swim 10 strokes with ball, then toss ball forward, retrive and repeat.

- Swim 10 strokes with ball, fake a shot, swim 10 strokes, repeat.

- Play tag with ball in lanes.

- Play keep away with one with the ball getting a head start and others (1 or more) chase.

- Play a swimmers leapfrog 1 on 1, in one lane with swimmer passing the other but not with grabbing, or touching on head, neck nor back. Later play 2-on-1 leapfrog.

- Vertical kicking with hands high, holding balls, holding weights, etc.

- Do reverse swimming for arm strength, -- feet first freestyle, feet first breastroke, etc.

- Do partner pulling with one swimming for power and the other person holding a leg for drag, and then kicking and then releasing.

- Do Drifting Drills. Swimmers float backwards, feet first with head up on side of body with an inverse kick that pulls the water and with the hands sculling. Hard skill. Done on defense.

- Partner pass (and self passing to a swim) with push passes only. Partner passes with wrist passes only. Partner passes with skip passes.

Examples above are some of the skills that are going to be good conditioning exercises that will be fun and a challenge for the swimmers and water polo players.

After swim workouts

4a. After swimming in the pool, the swimmers should stay to talk about water polo rules, game situations, plays, defenses, etc. We'll meet on the grass outside the pool, or on the sand volleyball courts, or around a park bench / table. So practice in the water is from 9 to 11. Then we'll have a team huddle from 11:15 to 11:45.

4b. After the team huddle, the kids should eat a brown bag lunch. Then we will workout on dry lands. We'll do abs, arm exercises, leg exercises. We need to do some conditioning.

4c. If possible, I'll make visits to a weight room possible. We might be able to workout at Eastminster Church's weight room. Or, we might go to a private gym and lift. Pending approval, etc. This would be from 1 to 2 pm. Those that are new to lifting will get strong supervision and coaching on technique, lifts, sets, and reps. This is available for middle school kids too. The Summer Dreamers had opportunities to go to the weight room already.

5a. The free week offered by Kingsley Stingrays to the PPS schools at the first of the summer was a great offer. Sadly, I only heard about it via Kingsley, and not PPS. And, I was a PPS swim coach. Let's repeat the offer but have a better system to notify and have a more focused area to concentrate upon with water polo transitions.

5b. Kingsley Stingrays that want to stay in the water past August 20 will be able to do with water polo for a few extra weeks and not be hit with high participation fees. I've always done water polo so far without charges to the participants. I have no plans to start charges to the players in August 2010. Perhaps in the future, but not now.

6a. We need to get this moving ASAP. I've given two copies of this paperwork to Coach at the pool on Tuesday, with only 6 days to the start. The parents will need to phone each other. If I don't hear a confirmation by Thursday, then we will do something else, sadly, like last year.


Tags: waterpolo

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Great idea Mark. Are you going to try again for 2011?

Hi Mark,

All I dare to say about such a well thought-out, comprehensive proposal is WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!   I needed a coach like you with these ideas when I was both swimming competitively and playing water polo, back in the day.  It is a real shame that others can't see your vision, let alone share in with them.  I do believe I was an OK average swimmer when I started out, until we were made to play water polo.(Mind you, it wasn't volunteer then.  You had to learn the mechanics of water polo and then play, if you wanted to remain on the swim team.  You see, I came up under some military men, who treated us like we were in Basic Training, and they didn't stand for any whiners. Now that was "Old School Swimming").   I know I became a stronger swimmer due to water polo, and that didn't include a weight program.  I truly pray that those who are in opposition to such an awesome, well thought- out curriculum and  program you have established, will understand the game can only help improve them as swimmers by playing water polo.  Most water polo players are awesome swimmers, but I am not so sure I can say the reversal about most swimmers, if they haven't given the game a chance to see how their endurance, strength,  stamina, and speed will ALL IMPROVE by playing.  I pray your vision catches a hold of those you are trying to reach, for the benefits derived will be Bar Second To None.  May God continue to find favor in your efforts and quest to help those, whom for whatever reason do not see what you see, help themselves.

Well said Darrick!

In the summer of 2011, we hope to offer two a swim and water polo camps with Pittsburgh Public Schools. They would be in the afternoons for nearly five weeks at two high school pools. I'll post those camp grant applications soon.

Mark, I just want to suggest a different marketing tack to approach Club Swimming teams with.

I am a USA Club coach and have been doing Water Polo cross-training formats with my team for

15 years now.  One full week during the Winter Holiday season and then the last-2 weeks before the

Summer break.  During such times we pretend as if we are a Polo team and do intense and aggressive

work and play. 


In particular, the reality is that 40-60 % of Club swimmers may actually have a competitive focus on

HS or Summer Swimming levels.  Indeed, the standard 16 to 20 hours of Collegiate training makes the

progression of such athletes to Collegiate levels also is problematic.  Whereas I find the inherent

aggression in play for loose balls a significant contributor to evoking such appropriate intensity during

Swimming races; as a swim coach, I primarily use a Polo format with my Club and HS programs in order

to prepare such athletes to take advantage of the unique support of Club Water Polo at the NCAA level.


As a Collegiate Club Polo player, such individuals could be athletes representing their colleges in

structured programs with built-in support systems.  This is clearly a valuable contributor to the success

of those athletes who could continue with their athletic careers in college with a 6-10 hour weekly

commitment, a much more practical expectation for that demographic. To date, in 15 years 2 athletes

from those H.S. or Age-Group swimming programs have gone on to participate in NCAA Varsity level

Final Four tourney games, and 2 others have won Club Level NCAA Championships.  When my Club

swimmers or parents ask why we don't play unstructured or more play oriented games during training

breaks, I tell them about the NCAA Club programs I am intending to prepare them for.


There is an important insurance issue with this format to consider.  No USA Swimmer can be required

to Scrimmage in Polo since it is a contact sport.  In fact, a disclaimer must be made before such activity,

or the USA insurance would be voided.  In our program, all such Polo training drills are required as a regular

training exercise, but athletes are allowed to opt out of any contact drills or scrimmaging as required by

USA Club insurance guidelines.


  On another note, the particular training benefits of Polo format are clearly in the power development

and sprint training categories.  Likewise, when transitioning from offense to defense in Polo, athletes

must perform what simulates a Fly\Br\or IM turn without the wall, a direct contribution to quicker

Swimming turns.


  I wish you well with your efforts, you clearly have much to contribute to athletes in both sports keep

up the good work.




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