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Swim coach hopes program makes splash

By CHASE SQUIRES

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 14, 2000


SAINT LEO -- A few weeks ago, Russ Rosenbauer had an idea, but little else.

By Monday, he will be the head of a new corporation and coach of Pasco County's newest competitive youth swimming program.

Rosenbauer, 48, is the coach of the Pasco High School girls swim team during the school year, but wanted to offer the sport he loves to a wider range of athletes. He started hunting for a partner this spring to help with the insurance coverage so he could offer a low-cost program to the area's youth.

When no one was able to include the fledgling program under their liability insurance blanket, Rosenbauer said he knew what he had to do.

"We went out and got our own," he said.

He established the Florida corporation of East Pasco Swimming Inc., named himself president and bought the needed insurance.

The swimming begins Monday.

He and fellow coach Brian Vaile are inviting boys and girls ages 5 to 18 to the Saint Leo University pool Monday at 5 p.m. to sign up for the program. Rosenbauer said practices will be held Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from 5 to 6 and 6 to 7 p.m. The program costs $50 a month.

"I'm pretty excited about this," Rosenbauer said Thursday. "Not only is it going to give high school swimmers something to get them into shape during the off-season, it's also hopefully going to involve a whole new group of younger swimmers in the sport."

Eventually, Rosenbauer said, he hopes enough parents will show interest and take the administrative duties over from him, leaving him to coach.

Saint Leo University recreational director Suzanne Hollis said she, too, is enthusiastic about getting more use out of the university pool and welcoming students to the campus.

"I hope it catches on," she said. "I'll have the pool ready; we'll have lifeguards standing by. We're ready."

Rosenbauer said the new program is already lining up swim meets against other area clubs. By the end of the season, he hopes to join the USA Swimming program, a national organization of swimming clubs that involves thousands of young people and provides a ladder to state and national competitions.

"Someday, 10 years from now, I'd like one of my swimmers to come up to me and say, "Hey, coach, I'm going to the Olympics,' " Rosenbauer said. "That would be a dream."

For starters, swimmers can sign up for the program by calling Rosenbauer evenings at (352) 567-7926 or show up at 5 p.m. Monday at the Saint Leo University pool, just off State Road 52 in the town of Saint Leo.

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