Friday, December 04, 1992

Diving Accidents

Mark Rauterkus

Sports Support Syndicate, Inc.

108 South 12th Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Orders: 1-800-869-0758

Business Phone: 412-481-2497

FAX #: 412-481-2540

December 4, 1992



Chanel 11


phone: 412-237-1111

Dear Donna Froeman,

Regarding your news segment on last nights 11:00 pm news and the wrong fact of, “Only the sport of diving has more spinal-cord injuries than football.”

That news is so grossly wrong that I am going to do my best to educate you of the facts and settle for some type of retraction or updated feature on the sport of diving here in Pennsylvania.

Our state board of health has some foolish person who made a recent rule interpretation because of bad news similar to that which was reported last evening. Our state has made lots of waves nationally, our local kids are getting their opportunities robbed by dropping programs from administrators and this is a hot issue in the news today. But you blew it.

Let me explain. After talking with U.S. Diving in Indiana (call 317-237-5252) and with their safety chairperson, Janet Gabriel at the ISHOF at (305-462-6536), I can report,

The Sport of Diving has never had a fatality or catastrophic injury in the United States. This includes U.S. Diving (club-level like at Pitt, coached by Julian Krug), NCAA Diving or any in High School as a part of the National Federation.”

These issues have been researched extensively over the years to combat the foolishness that you’ve recently promoted.

Did you know that 75% of all diving injuries occur in the natural environment? That includes lakes, rock quarries, off of boats in rivers, etc. The other small portion of injuries all occur in water depth of less than 4 feet. The sport of diving is contested in swimming pools with deep water, like 12 feet or so.

The sport of diving is very safe. And it is not worse than football.

At Plum High School, where I am also the swimming coach, we don’t have a male diver on the team, and we need 3 to field the event in the High School meets, which begin December 17. Furthermore, many of the schools have been yanking their boards and dropping their diving teams due to some bone-head, uninformed, safety interpretation by state government.

I don’t know all the facts of what has transpired in our state the last 10 weeks or so, but others do. You might call Don Lees at Clarion (814-226-7351). He could tell you what’s what.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Sincerely Yours,


Mark Rauterkus, President &

Plum High School’s Head Swimming Coach

Monday, November 23, 1992

To Plum, Speech

Excellent Speech

by Mark Rauterkus

Head Swim Coach &

Publisher, Sports Support Syndicate, Inc.

Presented November 23, 1992

Regarding the Expansion of the Aquatic Programs at Plum High School, Pittsburgh, PA, 15239 USA

This is the last time I am going to write a proposal to this board regarding the expansion of the aquatics program.

I’m not going to do any more business plan writing about swimming. This is it. I hope we can settle something now, with appropriate approval, and have a good-old fashioned motion and eventual vote in this meeting. I’m most willing to make adjustments, and plug something into place.

Just so everyone understands me, I might however come back to the board with proposals about other issues of interest. In a couple years, I might have applied reading and writing, or libraries, or joint book authoring projects in mind.

Furthermore, there is no telling me when I might get back here again with my major complaints that need to be ironed out. As I’m still quite certain that there are people around here that will not want to return my phone calls. When I get turned off and when I’m not even given the satisfaction of a returned phone call, then I can be a pesky rebel rouser. When and if I ever come back o the board, you can bet, I’ve already tried to go through channels, and you can bet that I’m fighting for the sake of the students.

So, this is my last aquatic expansion proposal.

This process began for me in March. I went through the proper channels. Mr. Terlinski, Mr. Neff, etc. I suggested Plum get and Aquatics Director position created and they said, “No, an Aquatics Director just wouldn’t work at this time.”

Then I witnessed the cancelation of the summer lesson program. I didn’t like seeing that happen. Plus, I had made plans to work with the students at the wave pool just when they needed instructors at the Plum pool. Obviously to me, more coordination was needed.

I offered to help. I went out of my way and I wrote an original 4-page pitch that went to summer athletic committee meeting and to the board in July.

My proposal got squeezed in among a pay-phone for the football office and the nervousness of a new teacher’s contract. People were busy, but I took your suggestions to heart and molded the plan as a result of our meeting here at this table.

Then I was told in a letter the one-issue of concern was that the board did not want to give up total control of the existing programs. The plan went back to the drawing board with the athletic committee.

Since September, Mr. Neff and I got together and I began working more at the pool. I took over as manager for the evening swim program for two-nights per week. I also got the instructors scheduled for the free-Saturday-Swim lessons.

To me, this period was a maintenance period and an in-between time where I would get to see what goes on at the pool first hand, observe, get into the flow so to speak. I knew that if my grand plans did not take hold here in the district, I didn’t want to be a lifeguard in the evenings and that I’d back away and from those “recreational” hours. And, I knew that I wanted to keep in touch with the kids a bit before their season began in earnest on Nov. 23.

This fall I wasn’t out to make a lot of changes. I believe I made some improvements, with lessons as proven with the parents evaluations, with Thursday night water polo, with a market testing of private lessons, with an expanded staff list, with ADA facility suggestions, with an increase in lap swimming to meet the demand of fitness swimmers, and with general solid coordination and responsibility.

Meanwhile, the teacher strike was averted and my plan for expanded aquatics programing got put on the next athletic committee meeting agenda.

So, I made the suggested changes regarding the issue of control for the board.

I went back to the athletic committee with a revised plan that really changes the scope of the original plan.

As the plan was rewritten, I sent it on to Mr. Becker, but my biggest wish was that I would have been able to meet with each of you individually, in depth, to comfort your concerns, address your specific questions in a one-on-one setting. This goes for board members as well as administrators.

You see my track record is not that long with each of you and you don’t really understand what makes me tick. I’m not like anyone you have ever met and I needed time to share and I asked, and I didn’t get it.

I wish I had someone to champion this concept and take some ownership with me.

Maybe you thought that I wasn’t worth the time or maybe my ideas weren't good enough, but that is neither here nor there. I don’t need to second guess the past. I’m not interested in shooting you down, nor am I interested in shooting down the existing aquatics program.

But with regard to this plan, I’ve done what you have asked me to do. Everything is here in black and white. This 3-ring binder includes deep dark secrets. This should paints a brilliant picture for you. Plum can create a bright, shinning star.

These ideas are good for the kids, good to the educational mission of the district, good for America, and you know, they are more healthy than Apple Pie.

I’ve cooked up this plan, maybe I should be more seasonal and say it is a pumpkin pie. But the ingredients I’ve used are what is here before me. The existing lesson program has great merits. The evening swim is wonderful in and of itself. The PAYS swim team is doing a wonderful service and we got them to increase their numbers by 80% over last year.

There are lots of additional numbers pointed out in this plan. As you read it, you don’t need to read between the lines. That is for sure as everything is there in black and white.

I hate when, for example a letter is sent and it says one thing, and it really meant another thing. I value words and I value clear communication, and I could say honesty. I also am not opposed to negotiations, but it takes two to have a dialog.

But, I say I’ve got something to offer that is much better than good old American apple pie. But what I feel like I’ve had to deliver a pumpkin pie. I felt I’ve had to have the role of a mean spirited Jack-o-lantern to get this far. I’ve been pushy. I’ve sent faxes to unanswered corners of the district. I’m sorry I’ve been putting an edge on this, but I’ve found that very few people want to do anything extra for the kids these days.

These days are not like the good old times. You say it yourself at these meetings.

In a mid-sized city, towards the edge of a town called Jacksonville, as we speak, public officials are having to spending $10,000 a day for the national guard to patrol the beltway to catch adolescents. The high school aged kids have been shooting guns at passing cars and pitching rocks from bridges.

Meanwhile, tonight in Plum, I’ve got 16-20 guys over at the pool with Fred Luffy, our diving coach. Fred is an engineer, a father of 2 little boys, and his wife is expecting a third child this winter. Do you get the picture. Well they are to be playing water polo. On Thursday nights, I’ve been staying at the pool extra, a little bit after hours to teach them a new sport and new skills.

Water polo has a different teamwork component to the game which makes it quite different from swimming.

Getting into water polo is my way of showing them I care. I’m glad they are staying off drugs, avoiding alcohol, not shooting at passing motorist on the turnpike.

But do you know what rots my socks? Someone, years ago went ahead and built that lovely pool, and even went so far as to buy professional, stainless steel water polo goals, the good kind that set right into the deck. At one time, someone was on the ball.

But now, those water polo goals are in storage, behind two doors in the back of the team room on a dirt floor under the gym floor. The goals with the nets and all are mixed in with a lot of desks, chairs, and a ladder is sitting on one of the goals.

I don’t have a key to that room. I’ve been asking for months for a little bit of assistance so that I can take those water polo goals out of storage and put them to good use. It would take someone no more than 5 minutes to help me. And no body has so much as lifted a finger.

Tonight, those guys are playing water polo again without any goals. That is the type of thing that rots my socks, and that is the type of thing that is wrong with America and Education today.

How can we be competitive globally when the kids are not given a goal to shoot for?

By and large, your kids, Plum kids, not kids from Franklin or Penn Hills, are swimming in circles. They are waiting for a little scrap of nourishment to fall from this table. And they are hungry and they are going to eat it up.

This is where I come in. I’ve been an entrepreneur. An outsider who is a citizen an frustrated by the status quo. I’ve had some excellent experiences. I publish books.

Barbara Bush, Swimming World, Skip Bird, Disney Educator of the Year, many many Olympic coaches,

My books are being exported to Europe.

There is somewhat a global demand for what I do. As we speak, my wife is presenting at a national conference with 20,000 people in attendance in San Antonio. We have a joint software company, and she went to Texas for 6 days without me with a box full of catalogs and handouts. I could be with her, yet alone growing the business, yet along being on the River Walk, but no. I’m seeking a balance lifestyle, and I’ve made a commitment to carry this through. Plus, I’ve got a birthday party on Friday night from 7:00-9:00 pm.

Earlier this year, the first week of January, I was a guest speaker at a coaches conference in Napa, California. I spoke to 225 coaches in Northern California. When you think of swimming, you think of places like Matt Biondi’s home town, right? Well, those coaches, the leaders in the sport in the hot-bed of the sport wanted to hear my ideas.

I took a red-eye out of San Francisco at 11:30 on a Sunday night, arrived in Pittsburgh at 9 am had 3 hours of sleep and went to a Plum H.S. swim meet that night, dead tired, but proud to be able to share with the kids.

I’m not just some type of crack-pot, pushy guy. I’m an expert. I’ve forgotten more about swimming than most of the coaches in Pennsylvania will ever know.

I’ve been working extremely hard throughout my life and have been dedicated to my causes of education and excellence.

I proved myself last year. In one short year we were awesome. State records, 2nd in WPIAL, 5 All-Americans. Swimming is the number one sport in that school. Furthermore, I can guide the Plum Swim Team with a comprehensive program to become the #1 sports team in any school in any sport.

Take this all into account, and remember I have-been and will-continue-to work here on a very-part-time basis.

But finally, I’m not an outsider at all. I’m a local boy. I graduated from Penn Hills. My mother and my wife chaperoned the 8 or 9 kids I took up to Penn State for three days for the PIAA Championships. We’ve had the team over to our house and my offices on the South Side on a number of occasions.

And for these political informational lectures, I’m not interested in spin doctor BS. I’ve worked at school districts in the past. I’ve negotiated with park directors and superintendents before. I know what an executive director or a chairperson is to do. I know what purchasing is all about. I’ve managed a summer staff of 80 employees in 6 pools. I know how the game should be played. I know some will think I’m out of bounds now, but this is the end of the line for me. I shouldn’t need to be saying these things to the whole board at this time. And, I also understand accountability.

However, it is better to hear straight from me rather than a parking lot full of others going every which way. I’ve been given no other options, and I’m done presenting proposals, but sparks could still fly.

Everyone I’ve talked to is in favor of expanding the programing. Nobody likes an idle facility. We have some agreements. Frank Jones wrote to me in his letter. And I’m confident the board is going to see the big picture and vote.

You see, my battle has been that you don’t know me. And now that I’ve got the floor I’ve got a little more dancing to do.

I’ve coached swimmers who have set state records 4 states. I’ve been a NCAA Div. I coach for 6 seasons employed by 3 different universities. I’ve taken 10 year olds to meets held at a school district in Gillette, Wyoming and I’ve hitch-hiked across Wisconsin and Florida to see swim meets while I was in college.

Just last week, the greatest mind in the sport, Dr. Ernie Maglischo, sent me copies of his swimming software for review. I think I can improve upon it and possibly publish it and distribute it for him.

Our kids are going to be exposed to that software. I think he sent it to me because I reminded him of the time when I visited his pool at Cal State Bakersfield for a 5:00 am practice and he eventually left and locked me in the pool. I was ready for more talking, more questions. He thought I was gone and out to breakfast with his assistant coaches. He left, and I was locked inside.

But with all of these experiences, I don’t need to prove myself to the kids. I don’t want to stand up here and boast or beg with you. I just want to jump out of my car at 2:15, put on a ball hat, and get it on with the kids. I get them doing weird things on the track, and get them confidence in their own abilities, and I push them to get a great education in college. Eventually, I’ll be making new friends for life.

I want to do all these activities here in Plum. Don’t worry about me leaving. Instead, you should worry about me moving in next door. But don’t worry to much, because my wife more than makes up for any boldness that I might cause you to contend with.

I promised you that I would write you an updated plan. But these binders are sealed. I would prefer to not even open this plan tonight.

A copy of this talk is in there. Some outlines, budgets, letters, evaluations and such is in there. But those things are not important.

Each and everyone of you can shoot holes through this plan. There is detail after detail that we can trip up on. Even if you don’t have a backyard pool, you’ll be able to tear this to bits. Plus, we can trip and stumble tonight, even if there aren’t any pot holes in the parking.

You can shoot holes into this just like those other high school kids have been shooting holes in speeding cars on Interstate 295. And do you know what?

Keith W, a Plum junior, our Monday night lifeguard and WPIAL swimmer is going to miss practice all next week. This is our first official week of practice. But that is OK with me. Keith is going to take a trip with his family, to Florida, for Thanksgiving vacation and all. I’m not worried about Keith missing practice, but I am a bit concerned about him and his family getting shot at as they drive to Florida.

Remember those National Guardsmen? M-16? At $10,000 a day? And local kids with nothing better to do?

When Keith comes back into town, I hope he is in one piece. And we will probably want to play water polo. I hope we can work it out so that we can install the goals right there on the spot and give him and his classmates something better to shoot at.

So tonight, I’m not interested in you shooting holes at me. I’m interested in working together, as a board, as a coach, as a parents booster group, as community leaders and as a superintendent should.

During this proposal process I’ve been out here alone, going fishing, using my ideas, but I’m probably not using the right bait on my hook. I love the water, but I never was much for fishing.

But I am the hook. I don’t use bait. I don’t carry around a lot of false pretenses. I don’t want to go fishing with this board any longer. Because I’m wasting time here in the board room going fishing with all of you. You see, I’ve got a net and it is over there at the high school back at the pool.

You see I can work my magic, and use this huge net and it can gather a lot of kids. My net is more efficient than fishing with a hook without any bait. This net of mine is built with my spirit.

But I need somebody else to lend a hand, and possibly get their feet wet too.

Mr. Chairperson, I thank you for listening and I would like to yield the floor to Board Member Tom McGough as it is my belief and hope that he is going to read the motion that he intends put to a vote at the next meeting. 

Thursday, November 19, 1992

Talking Number with Plum


Let’s Talk Numbers and then create some Linkage to probable successes with these numbers.


How big is the annual School District budget?

Follow-up Question:

How much impact can an expanded aquatics/athletic/fitness program actually have upon the School District’s bottom-line budget?


All in all, the amount of money spent at the swim pool and payed to employees to staff the programs is a drop in the bucket with the overall school budget. If the board gave its permission to Mark Rauterkus to go ahead and build upon the existing programs and create the greatest community swim program the world has ever seen, the total costs involved would amount to nearly nothing when compared to the existing overall budget.

None-the-less, if the people on the board feel it is their duty as elected officials to examine and scrutinize every drop of water that enters the larger school budget (er-bucket), then let’s examine the budget impact. So, get out your microscopes and here is a lesson in water chemistry and pool costs.


How much does the pool cost per year?


Now that you have asked, buildings and grounds should provide us with the costs to operate the swim pool per year. As an outsider, the swim coach does not know, yet I’ve recently asked to answer your questions to me.

But, it is my guess that the grand total for the average yearly pool costs for buildings and grounds is about $20,000. That includes: heat, lights, water, electricity for the pump, chemicals, wear-and-tear fix-ups, cleaning supplies, etc.

Given a worst case examle of taking present-level-modest-usage of 20 swimmers per session and turning that into an extreamly populated facility with usage at 200 instead of 20, throughout the course of an entire year, the extra costs would amount to somewhere between $400 to $500 per year, maximum.

Expert Answer:

I’ve arrived at the maximum yearly costs of $400 to $500 per year after talking with area consultant given:180,000 gals of water in the Plum pool, given an extra backwash in the summers on a weekly instead of monthly basis, given a loss of 375 gallons of water while backwashing, given the price of water at $52 per 10,000 gallons, given the price of chlorine at $125 per 100 pounds and the price of acid at $4.95 a gallons, given that the pool probably consumes 100 pounds of chlorine a month and 20 gallons of acid a year.

The same number of lights are on in the pool area if there are 20 people in the pool or 200. The pump is circulating the water as the heat is on day and night anyway. So some things don’t change at all.


After Coach Mark Rauterkus explored the projected costs with a consultant, we can say that a significant increase in the existing aquatics programs would have a negligible increase on facility costs to the district.


We expect the chlorine and acid numbers to rise by 10 percent with my plan in full operation. Lumped together, there is a good chance the chemicals with increased usage could only amount to an extra $5 per week. All-in-all, the extra cost for greatly expanded programs amounts to a grand total of no more than $400–500 per year.

Getting this technical is what Coach Mark refers to as an inspection of the molecules in the drop of water in the big bucket of the school district budget. But at least I’ve done my homework.

Furthermore, the water and the pool do not wear out like a football field. The pool is a steel, concrete and ceramic tile hole in the ground that is depreciating slowly throughout the next century. Swimmers can make waves in a that swim pool for hours on end, and there is no chance that the swimming tank will wear out. Playing fields needs to drainage, seed, sod, cutting, grooming, expensive lighting, etc., etc.

Summary Answer:

The real costs that amount to anything are not related to the building’s operation, but instead are staff programing (managers, life-guards, instructors) and custodial worker’s compensation.


What about the custodial worker’s compensation?


I come to understand from the November ‘92 committee meeting that the custodians can make up to or beyond $29 per hour. I guess they are union and a contract in place. As for specifics about costs and compensation with regards to clean-up and custodial time, the board would have a much better knowledge than the swim coach as it negotiated the union contract.

I don’t know what existing schedules and costs are associated with buildings and grounds. In the winter the pool area is cleaned every day, and those are fixed costs that should not escalate if 200 people use the pool in an evening instead of 20. Now that the pool is idle in the summers, perhaps the non-profit organization should cause the schedules to change so that the pool is cleaned daily instead of once a week in June and July.

It has been my experience and opinion as a manager of other similar facilities that :45 minutes of time per night would be sufficient to regularly clean that facility even after the most populated, high-use periods. Three-quarters of an hour would allow 15 minutes for each of the locker-rooms and another 15 minutes for the either the deck or the entry hallway on an every-other-day basis.

I also know that the federal government was paying most municipalities to hire a young-person for a summer-job experience. Perhaps some soft-money or some type of grant could be obtained to pay for summer-time-cleaning. Or, the lifeguards and managers can operate a mop and hose.

If the pool is put to extensive use in the summer months and if there is a daily clean-up of 1 hour at $7.00 per hour, then the costs for the 10 week summer period would be $490.

In the final conclusion, paying union wages to clean-up the pool, or as someone suggested at the meeting, having a custodian at the pool every moment that the pool is open, would be the kiss of death for expanding the aquatic’s programs. This is something that the board has to deal with, and I can’t address the existing facts that getting the floors mopped is too much to overcome when educating the public safty in water skills. I only hope that Plum isn’t like some other districts that I’ve heard about that have set itself up to contend

with a four-hour minimum of pay going out to have a janitor come in for :20 minutes of work to empty a hair-catchers on drains. Recreational activities can’t absorb those types of premium expenses.


What about costs for staffing (managers, lifeguards, instructors) for programs.


With my expanded aquatics plans, the innovative, dynamic programing will require expert instruction and a solid educational mission. Staff costs would be significant, but they would be paid for from user fees. Staff programing costs are a variable cost. For example, as more classes are taught and as enrolment increases, more teachers can be hired and perhaps at higher rates as the paying customers will pay user fees. If no classes are held, no teacher is paid.

Today’s aquatic program offered by the district is not based upon the philosophy of user fees. Plum’s aquatics programing takes all comers for lessons and has nominal evening swim programs. Now that I’ve witness these programs first hand this fall, I have my opinions.

It is my guess that Plum’s present aquatic programing staff costs average about $12,000 per year. There are two programs: evening swim which takes into account a pool manager at $8.50 per hour and a lifeguard at $7.00 for 2 hours each night and 4 nights per week for 32 weeks for $4,000; and then the free-Saturday-afternoon lessons is for 4 sessions at 7 weeks each with a $10.00 per hour salary for 3 hours each week with 8 instructors is close to $7,000.

Now, if the lessons were to be a huge success and the evening program grew to accommodate scouts and such, then the staffing could double in one season and easily triple with successful experiences and some marketing efforts. It hasn’t happened yet, but with the involvement of Mark Rauterkus and responsible staffing levels given the existing hours with modest latitudes, the staffing expenses could exceed $25,000 per year. This growth of existing programs would be an solid increased to budget expenses as there is only nominal user fees collected in the evening swims.

Dilemma Answered:

As the recent-interim-pool manager I have not gone overboard with the budget and created new programs yet and hired lots of new people. Mr. Neff gave me the job and was supportive to me in September and said that I would be able to staff the pool to suitable levels. However, I was told I could not get a second lifeguard in the evenings and there have never been any clear-cut guidelines for increasing or decreasing the staff. I proceeded to do the best I could with what I was given, witnessing the program run at status quo, and implementing minor changes as time progressed.

Vision and Solution:

The swim pool staff (managers, lifeguards, instructors) should have a specific budget line-item.

Given the existing programing, the budget spending cap should be raised to $25,000 for the next year and up to $35,000 for future years. A projected spending amount and a spending ceiling should reflect a wide latitude in the time of growth. In a few years, as programs are operational at full or near-full capacity, then the budgeted numbers can be much closer to targeted amounts.

The manager should be responsible for staff schedules and ensuring proper management of the human resources.

In future years, the manager with the approval of the HR director, should establish a more competitive and more subjective pay scale for workers based upon certification, experience, merit and job performance. We should not have to pay more than $10 per hour to first-time, junior instructors. The swim staff will not be excited to hear I’ve made this recommendation, but I feel it is the right thing to do.

In my plans to the board regarding Plum’s expansion of its aquatics programs, I’ve always tried to make it clear that maintenance and supplies would be paid for out of the operating expenses of the non-profit organization. All costs would also be paid for by the non-profit organization too. Either way, the salaries were accounted for in the plans and those clean-up charges were not to be taken from the district’s 10% of the revenue or in the recent proposal its $100 flat rental payment each month.

In summary, it was the goal of these aquatics proposals to have the aquatics programs pull their own weight in a fiscally responsible manner and have user fees pay for any extra costs. The new non-profit organization would pay its share.


Some people thought that numbers Mark projected in the expanded aquatics plans were too high, too unrealistic, too much for others to understand. Can you prove those projections?


“I’ve played in Peoria.” Literally, I moved to Peoria, Illinois, a market one-third the size of Pittsburgh, in the heart of the not so nice (Central High School) city, suffering the worse depression with Caterpillar Tractor falling through the floor with huge, year-long strikes choking the city, and my program went gang-busters. Every program in the region was cutting off whole limbs, and mine was turning a $15,000 surplus even after mid-year budget adjustments. I moved to town and there were 35 swimmers on the team. In three months we had 6 coaches and a rental agreements at a second H.S. pool and a waiting list because I could not take more than 200 swimmers. We eventually settled down to 150 on average in the program at any given month, 12 months per year. Plus, the YMCA program took one of my former assistant coaches and north suburban team sprang up from nowhere too, all because I promoted the sport and we were just too good.

I got a large raise to move to New Trier School District. While I was there, New Trier was rated the best public high school in America by Town and Country. I mainly coached the community kids. I had nine-lanes-full of 10-and-unders, and we had a total of 350 kids in the winter swim program from ages 7 to high school with one pool. I grew the team to reach those numbers dramatically, and that’s one of the reasons they hired me—to build the base of their team in an area with a shrinking demographics for kids as the real estate prices were too high and prohibitive for families to purchase homes.

In Waco, Texas, I worked for the City and its hard to get children of cowboys to do a sissy thing like swimming lessons, but we boomed with an awesome program at the city’s huge outdoor pool.

Building numbers in a swim program is easy. Even locally I’m having an impact with the PAYS team. In the winter of 1991, my first season there were 48 swimmers. Now there are 78. That is an 80% increase. And I’m only engaged at a very-part-time level. But I have to admit, there isn’t a day when I don’t speak to Coach Jerry O’Neil on the phone. Oh, and this past summer, we went to Boyce

Park for 3 days per week for dry-lands and swimming for 150 minutes each session. The summer before my arrival there were 32 swimmers in the program and last summer there were 68. And funny thing, if I try modestly hard again this summer we will double again. We can garner 140 swimmer in the summer of 1993 using the wave pool and the YMCA.

The scarry thing, is if we used the Plum High School pool, taught lessons and still had swim team activities, with some advance planning and my supervision, we could have 200+ swimmers. And, I’m talking 80% Plum and without kick down the local teams too. I’m a builder.

How can Mark Rauterkus attract those numbers?


Notice, we worked out with the kids for 150 minutes this summer. It was cold and rainy all summer long and the rates were nearly $100 per kid as the County rental molded the program badly. We were not giving anything away in terms of cost, convince, tons of assistance, etc. I worked alone, and Jerry O’Neil had only one college kid helper.

But the secret is to offer a challenge to the individual. Show them how to improve by teaching. And then the rewards become quite intrinsic. I can motivate and I have the technical skills to support my methods which yields better and better results which in turn puts the program on a high level of excellence and the snowballing effects are nurtured. Work and learning is fun and I guarantee all three.

Vision and Solution:

You can’t sit on your hands and babble away the time. At Plum, I will build a first-rate, world-class, dynamic teaching program. We will not replicate anything already being done. We will not replicate anything already tried before and failed. We will not have one lane line in recreation swim as we need three or more. One was a failure. Three or more will be a success. I know.

A huge advantage to Plum is the teaching center. The pool is connected to the school, we have a great track, we have tennis court, a gym, class rooms. With the roof, there will be climate control, never a rain-out policy. We will hold long courses in odd times and be a Mecca of fitness learning.

You can’t throw out a beach-ball and expect people to come back. With great teachers, you can have higher course fees as it is more similar to college tuition than lessons.

We will reach for the stars and grab the tiger by the tail. I’ll make quick decisions, change course, accommodate teaching, keep the lessons fresh, experiment in classes and with classes. I’m going to be persistent, but in the back of everyone’s mind, we will guarantee that the program pulls its own weight with finances.


Who is going to benefit?


The people at Plum are going to be in these programs to 80% levels. We will get some from the next door neighborhoods. But soon they will be trying to copy us and that will keep away some of the casual drifters. When something great comes to your own neighborhood, people will respond and come out for the programs.

Furthermore, Pittsburgh is a habit-forming word of mouth town. I am surprised so far that so much can be accomplished with the lessons and evening swims with so little marketing. Certificates, stickers, flyers, posters, phone calls, surveys and the like can accomplish so much. I know marketing too.

I will study participation levels from our citizens. We will document user levels and report to the board. I’ll target Plum residence. There is no validity to the lie that I’ll be turning the Plum pool into anything other than a great place for Plum kids and adults to enjoy and learn.


What about that other 20% that Mark predicts will come from out of the district?


Visitors will travel to our programs because they are so special. However they will pay a slightly higher fee. And, we will be seeking their attendance at certain times, especially special events.

For example, if Matt Biondi came to speak to the swimmers, and if we invited a few hundred other swimmers and coaches, we could have a great turn-out, which would be necessary to pay for his appearance fee and travel costs. We will use the visitors to beef-up our numbers which in turn will allow our level of excellence to keep on climbing.


What about the numbers of economics?


In this time of high unemployment in our state, and with the large medical and service sector in our region, and with the growth in high-tech areas, this expanded swimming plan fits right in like a glove on a hand.

We will hire 20 or more instructors. We will put a good boost to the local economy.


What long-term money aspects can be reviewed as a benefit to this expanded aquatics program.


We will make better citizens of our youth by providing specific job skills training and experiences, plus the scholarship factor is intense money due to the program.


How is Job-Skills-Training a part of an Aquatics program?


In this area in any given summer, there are more than 500 different summer job openings related to lifeguarding. We will train our students to become great lifeguars and instructors. Our kids will get the best jobs around and we will have high standards.

Beyond this area, we can place lots of kids in summer camps, at lakes, with scouts, etc. There could never be a saturation of lifeguards as kids will always be able to go away to guard, either at camps, or at the ocean as Mr. Painter did as a young man, or at colleges.

With steady summer work, teaching lessons and with the proper energy, we can show students how they can pay for their room and board through college. Yet alone, we are giving hands on teaching experiences. Perhaps some may go into education, or at least be good teachers should they grow up to be engineers and one day want to coach a diving team or something.

We had a hard time finding an assistant coaches for swimming. Furthermore, all the other area schools are in the same situation. We can train coaches who can then go on to coach throughout the WPIAL.


The college education is important part of the HS experience. Is there more to explain, especially with scholarships?


Mark Rauterkus predicts that the Plum kids will earn, on average, college swimming scholarships to the amount of $160,000 per year. This is money that stays right in Plum because the kids don’t have to pay their tuition elsewhere.

Getting the district to pay a few extra thousands of dollars for the swimming program is nothing when your son or daughter can get a scholarship to go to college for nothing. Sure this is a localized list of people who will benefit, but when the matter is fully explored, I can prove that all the kids in the district will benefit.

If four swimmers and/or divers graduate each year, two guys and two gals, typically the captains or best swimmers on the team, these kids will be at All-American ability levels and will be able to, with the proper coaching and support and decision making, cash in with swimming scholarships. There are all types of scholarships at all types of schools.

For instance, Jim Rumbaugh could have gotten a full-ride to swim at many schools. He went to a major university with a big-big-time NCAA program, and his scholarship is his own private business, but they were out there for him. Plus, with additional years of coaching, we will have many more opportunities to develop our own swimming stars year in and year out. This year’s graduates of Jay, Tom, Karen, and Susan are in the scholarship range. The class of 94 looks strong too with Karin, Erica, Emil, and Mindy.

Not only do you need to have talent to get offered a swim scholarship, but you need to have connections and the right guidance. I can assist by telling our upper and lower class students what to look for, where to apply and what to ask. Kids who are engaged in our program for four years will know that getting scholarships for college will be an every day occurrence, much like getting a drivers license is to them now.

To figure the $160,000 average contribution to the district community for swimming scholarships, give 4 athletes $10,000 each and multiply that by 4 years at school. Each year there will be some starting and others leaving, and individual amounts going up and down, but the dollar value is significant and directly attributed to an excellent aquatics program through their high school years.

Beyond the hard money of scholarships, this program will shoot out lots of letters of recommendations, write strong cover letters for employment or admission to graduate programs and the such. In the

last five years, Mark Rauterkus has coached two swimmers who attended West Point. They both swim and they both are getting great educations and careers, in large part because of the excellent swim programs they were involved with as adolescents. Coach Mark takes these matters seriously, and these extra benefits to the students will make positive changes to all the kids in the program.

Finally, other students in the school will also get some benefits to having a great aquatics program, as the Aquatics program at Plum will set a standard and enhance the school’s national reputation. From meeting with the County Commissioners to the features in Sunday newspapers to eventual Sports Illustrated and Newsweek mentions too. The Pull Your Own Weight program from Jefferson Middle School in the Quad Cities in Iowa got attention from Clinton/Gore and Bush/Schwartznegger, and we can duplicate the same efforts in Plum and with our Governor’s Council on Health and Fitness. If Plum does not become a household word like Stanford, then at least those in our end of town will know good things about Plum and the local pride can grow significantly.

In the beginning, many of the teachers will not be as expert...

Money to the Community

Lets talk economy:

Jobs, Scholarships, Tourism, Materials.

College Scholarships:

Track Record

Typical Swim/Diving Scholarship


Friday, October 09, 1992

Letter to Tom M, Plum Board Member

Mark Rauterkus

October 9, 1992

Dear Tom McGough,

I have a few things to share with you, and I’d like your assistance on a couple of them.

First, my proposal as presented to the school board in July is dead. There was discussion at the last workshop meeting. I guess the board is unwilling to give up complete control.

Second, the board is interested in talking with me about getting better utilization from the pool facility and they suggested I go back to the athletic committee. So there is good news with the bad.

Third, there is no future athletic committee meeting scheduled. I want to have an honest discussion and design a working plan along with the athletic committee with the goals of writing a motion that would be forthcoming from the athletic committee. Then I’d like to take the motion to a vote with the full board some time in 1992. My last plan didn’t even get a vote as there was no motion ever made. Furthermore, I didn’t hear any strong objections to specific parts to my plan, so I’m wondering what needs to be changed. I feel progress can be made if the athletic committee writes the proposal and motion with my assistance, instead of the other way around like last time.

With these regards, could you see to it that a future athletic meeting is scheduled for discussion on these issues. I asked Mr. Becker at the end of the last board meeting and he said there were

no plans for future meetings, but that was understandable as the big issue was the teacher’s contract. Now that that is over with, I hope we can give some further attention to the swimming activities, as we do need to make plans for summer soon.

I feel that the three committee members and myself could hammer out a great package and proposal. If we wanted to get very serious at the athletic committee level, we should schedule a meeting and have the superintendent, athletic director, Mr. Neff and even the legal advisors present, Frank Jones and I’d bring my lawyer too.

Fourth, to change the subject, I’m recruiting an assistant swim coach to Plum from Southern California. I have him very interested in moving here to help me with the team this winter, as we have been talking for weeks. Robert Webster is 36, single, and a strong Christian. The last time he spoke he was interested in local fellowships and churches. This guy has coached at the college level many years and is in-between jobs as he was getting graduate work at Univ. of Pacific when the budget axe fell on his department and he was cut. He has put in for the opening of Head Swim Coach at Southern Illinois University Women’s Team, but I think we could get him here with a little effort. He wants to make a long-term move to a community and someday meet a woman and begin a family. I said Pittsburgh is the perfect place.

I’m going to hire him to assist me in my business as project manager for two short-term jobs as we publish a new water polo book with a former Olympic Water Polo coach who is also in Southern California and as we make a second edition of a swim book with another writer/coach now in Southern California. He would gather some new data this month, move to town at a few weeks, stay with me over the winter and together we would finish these projects and coach the Plum High School Team.

The year before last, Robert was Head Water Polo coach at Harvard. Before that he was working at UNLV. A couple summers ago, I ran into him at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs as he was preparing to take a 10 to 20 swimmers to Europe with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Robert is a wonderful gentleman, and dedicated coach.

With Robert’s coaching assistance, and the opportunity to move our full aquatics plan forward, the students at Plum would

have such fantastic experiences. I would love to be able to look to you for some significant help and support with these issues.

Fifth, could we get together to talk again? I’m close to down-town. We could meet most days. Or, how about if you bring the family to the Plum swim pool for an evening splash, $1.50 get the whole gang in. Such a deal! I’m managing the pool now on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:00-8:30 pm. We could visit then, and/or afterwards.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Sincerely Yours,

Mark Rauterkus