Frequently Asked Questions & Answers about the I-League


Question: What is the minimum number of schools needed to start the I-League

The I-League can start with one school. 

It would be great to have a set of five founding members in the first couple of years. 

Western Pennsylvania has 70 high schools as part of the WPIAL that do not have varsity swim teams. A bunch of those schools do not have swim pools. 

When the I-League begins, many of the first practices are local. But within the first months, arrangements can be made with other pools for game-play, clinics and travel events. Those travel events could be arranged with existing varsity swim teams. 

Question: What is the timeline for starting the I-League?  

After some league-wide positions have been addressed with the WPIAL and PIAA, outreach to schools can begin. Marketing to school boards and administrators could occur as early as the summer and fall of 2023. 

Question: What would happen in the first year of the I-League?

Launching new aquatics programs from scratch would take some months if not years. In the announcement phase drop-in clinics and open SKWIM games would be publicized along with pre-lifeguard training. The older students, jobs candidates, are asked to become certified lifeguards so as to build capacity for safety and open pools. 

A first year's activity is human resource recruitment. We'll need to find interested adults and volunteers to transition into local coaching and instructor roles.

Bring a friend clinics, lessons, practices and game-days with group invites to other school-wide teams, clubs and organizations would be scheduled on a regular basis so as to build relationships and a critical mass on contacts for the team's roster. These reverse-tryouts activities allow students to tryout aquatics with an understanding that there are no cuts -- they have a spot on the team regardless of present swimming abilities.

The first visits and weeks at the pool for the I-League's include on-the-spot sign-ups with follow-up onboarding with reading and videos shared for consuming away from the pool.  

Question: Is the I-League a model that can be replicated in elsewhere, beyond Western Pennsylvania?

Yes. The I-League could be established in other cities and regions. Plus, our friends in Canada are closely watching and could spread the I-League there too. 

While replicating the entire scope of the I-League experience elsewhere is welcome, it is much easier to replicate bits and pieces.

  • The swim-lesson program, U CAN Swim, is built to be replicated. 
  • Others can launch an in-house SKWIM league. SKWIM happens in Seattle-area pool and can be replicated at YMCAs, aquatic centers and campus intramural departments.
  • The education program for new and existing swim coaches within the Global Library for ISCA Members is available for deployment with other leagues.
  • The course, Mental Skills for Young Athletes is an important piece that can be positioned in other schools, sports clubs and teams.

Question: How does the I-League launch fit into the school year?

Since swimming is a year-round activity, it never ends, same too with the I-League. 

  • Fall is often for water polo and some middle-school swimming teams.
  • Winter is when high school swimming and diving teams compete, at the same time as basketball.
  • Spring is when some middle-school swimming teams have their season. 

Holding introductory meetings with school administrators concerning the I-League is expected to be its most troublesome the week before the new school year begins late August.

Question: What is the ask from schools concerning joining the I-League?

I-League collaboration with individual schools includes:

  • Tour of facilities; (pre contract)
  • Introductions to key people (principal(s), perhaps the dean of students, athletic / activities director, athletics staff, faculty's physical education leader, head custodian, athletic training staff); (pre contract and on-going)
  • A customized document, The I-League Action Plan, is crafted for each school / district. The action plan serves as the framework for the I-League membership agreement. This document is included as a tab within the school board's agenda. (contract)
  • Schools pay an annual fee as a retainer for membership to the I-League. (ongoing)
  • Schools provide access and communication paths to reach the faculty and staff for awareness and local coach / instructor recruitment. (ongoing)
  • Schools provide access and communication pathways to reach the students and their families for recruitment and event announcements. (ongoing)
  • Schools provide facility access, especially to the pool and locker-rooms, so programs can be held. (ongoing)

Question: Are there any I-League pilot programs?

  • In the summer of 2023, a new SKWIM season is starting among summer swim teams.
  • SKWIM programming has occurred at various locations in past years including at North Park, Montour Heights Country Club, Obama Academy, The Ellis School, the Saturday Swim School at Oliver High School, summer camps with The Pittsburgh Project on the Northside. 
  • The longest running, 10-year, pilot within a school district setting was Pittsburgh Public Schools Summer Dreamers and SKWIM & Water Polo activities.

Question: What about insurance?

Insurance is always a gotcha question asked by those in schools wishing to reject facility usage. Glad to take on this concern straight away.

First of all, what does the school district do about insurance for the other sports teams at the school -- such as baseball, football and basketball?  

As a school sponsored sports activity, swimming, water polo, SKWIM and other associated educational activities should be insured by the school district. 

  • Questions about insurance should be presented to the district's solicitor.

Outside groups that use the school-owned, (generally public-financed) facilities for their own programs generally need to furnish proof of insurance coverage for certain dollar amounts for liability, personal harm, damages, etc. However, this proposal is about energizing a school-based program with outside support.

Secondly, in the context of the sub-contracted athletic trainer model: What does the school require for insurance for  the athletic trainers that are integral to the athletic programs?

Swim clubs that use school facilities as outside groups can obtain insurance. USA Swimming membership provides coverage. Same too with American Water Polo and the A.A.U. A number of insurance options are available, for a price, if desired. 

Costs becomes an issue. However, reduced payment options exist with diversity classifications with USA Swimming. 

Proper solutions for the insurance requirements are expected. Some research is necessary. See I-League Insurance.  

About the author 

Mark Rauterkus

Insert YOUR comments in the box at the bottom of this -- and all the other pages. Questions. Insights. re-writes, whatever.

Swim, water polo and SKWIM coach in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Also the webmaster for the International Swim Coaches Association.

You may also like

Stroke Count, 8 x 50s, with the App

Stroke Count, 8 x 50s, with the App
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Subscribe to our newsletter now!