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Bob Ogoreuc (pronounced oh-GER-ic) wants you to know that he feels your pain. He knows that most of you out there are underpaid and undervalued. And it’s time for a change.

“Sometimes, I often feel we don’t get our due rewards,” says the 38-year-old Ogoreuc. “Aquatics professionals are some of the hardest working professionals out there who take a great deal of pride in what we do. And a lot of times it’s overlooked.”

“It bothers me when I see an aquatics director making only $20,000 a year when someone else in a similar discipline is making $40,000 to $50,000,” he continues. “We are asked to maintain many different certifications and yet we’re not reaping those financial rewards.”

Ogoreuc is working to change that the best way he knows how — through the classroom. The assistant professor in physical education has single-handedly resuscitated a nearly dead aquatics minor program at Pennsylvania’s Slippery Rock University into one of the most vibrant in the nation. The program averages about 40 students each year who, under Ogoreuc’s tutelage, learn everything from water chemistry to facility management.

Ogoreuc, who started his aquatic life on the high school swim team with renowned coach, Ralph Johnson, teaches, and speaks, from experience. Before picking up the chalk full-time, he also coached the men’s and women’s swim teams at Slippery Rock, including eight-time All American Scott Hendry. To this day, he still works as a training officer for the Ocean City, N.J., Beach Patrol, where he teaches lifeguards and firefighters lifesaving lessons.

All that experience makes Ogoreuc the kind of hands-on prof most students dream about. But he says the most difficult — and valuable — lesson he tries to impart is the one that will not only help his students, but ultimately the whole of aquatics.

“The most important thing is professionalism,” he says. “If we show that we’re professional it will help with getting jobs and getting respect. We just need to let people know what we do and wave that flag up there to let people know exactly what we are providing.”