The Obama Academy boys’ swim team is gaining on everyone. They’re training to beat the best, and they want to become City Champions. “If we have a good, healthy three months of training, we’ll swim really fast in March,” says Coach Mark Rauterkus. “Our aim will be to win the City Championship, and to have everybody achieve personal-best times.”
As important as the City Championship is, the Eagles are not making light of any of their opponents. On Monday (December 12), the boys’ swim team beat Bishop Canevin’s 93-76. The girls’ team also vanquished the Crusaders; their score was 89-81.
Junior freestyler Erik Rauterkus is Mark Rauterkus’ son. He is one of the few current Obama swimmers with state competition experience. “Erik has gone to states as a freshman and sophomore,” says Rauterkus. “Now as a junior we hope he’s able to make it to states again.” At the 2011 City Championship, Erik swam for first place in the 200, with a time of 1:51.72. The 500 got Erik another first place, with a time of 5:04.72. “One of his dreams is to get the City record,” Rauterkus adds. He notes, however, that the City record is considerably faster than Erik’s time right now. The 200-yard City Record is currently held by Ryan Jackson. Jackson broke/reset the record in 1998 while swimming for Perry High school.
One way that Rauterkus keeps his swimmers conditioned is by keeping practice fun. Water polo games are a frequent part of practice. Some members of the Obama swim team have even competed at the club level as a result of their practice-game experience. A team composed mostly of Obama students combined with a handful from Shaler this past September. They played in the Ohio Cup, and won third place in the JV division.
Lastly, Rauterkus took the time to explain how swimmers know they’ve made it in their sport. “This is a total swimming-geek thing,” he says. He explains that the swimmers were stretching out their arms one day, swinging them to loosen their shoulders. “We got a chuckle when one of the boys was able to slap his arm against his lats,” Rauterkus says. Having the flexibility to slap your arm across your back may not be a big priority to most people. But for swimmers, the feat is a signal that you’ve really developed some strength and flexibility and transformed your body into a swimming one.
The next City League competition written on the Pittsburgh Public Schools schedule for Obama is at Allderdice on January 11, 2012.