On Saturday, January 22, 2022, we held our 12th Annual Northern Virginia Catholic High School Swimming and Diving Championship, and everyone was back! Last year we were missing several schools, so it was great to have a deck full of 359 athletes from every Catholic school in the northern half of Virginia to compete is this spirited meet.
Congratulations to Bishop O’Connell who took home the “Holy Grail” traveling trophies for both the boys and the girls for the next year. O’Connell had won both trophies in 2020, but they were not allowed by their school administration to compete last year. So, their first-year coach sent a video of their Captains handing off the Holy Grails to be returned to the meet without them. That memory made it even more special for me to see Coach Beth O’Connor Baker get thrown in the pool at the end of the meet by the whole O’Connell team.
The meet was a sort of Homecoming for me also, as any of you who watched the livestream broadcast saw. Before the opening prayer, which she came to lead, the Director of Bishop Ireton High School, Kathleen McNutt, gave me a big hug. Believe it or not, when Mrs. McNutt was a very young Kathleen Faherty in a neighborhood called Stoneybrooke just south of Alexandra, I was her babysitter – for $0.50 per hour, $1.00 after midnight. I also mowed her family’s lawn for a whopping $5 plus an extra $1 for trimming.
I had the chance to interview her on the broadcast, and it was one of my most enjoyable interviews all season. What made it even more of a family affair was that her daughter, Kaitlyn McNutt, was on deck at the Bishop Ireton Coach. Oh, and did I mention that I swam at Bishop Ireton for the ’77-’78 season? “It’s good to be a Cardinal!”
Wasn’t it great to see Fr. Noah Morey back? He’s been the chaplain at Bishop Ireton for the last three (3) years, but for those of you who are sophomores and above, I know you remember him as the de facto Seton chaplain. He was superior – so accessible to the kids. I even remember him coming to practice and swimming with us!
In part of because of Coach Baker, Director McNutt, and Fr. Noah, and in part because of the faith that all the competitors shared, there was a real spirit about this meet that felt palpable. Add all the pomp, circumstance, and high tech that Mr. John Kleb, Mr. Paul Fifield, and Mr. Bill Dealey add to Seton meets these days, and it felt even better.
The spirit was noticed by our competitors too. All of you who do so much to make our meets great received a great compliment from O’Connell’s Coach Beth O’Connor Baker:
“Let me thank you for allowing me to be in the most well-produced, friendly & inclusive swim event I think I’ve ever been associated with. You and your Seton family have really got it going on, and I can see why it’s been a favorite of DJO Swim & Dive over the years. You treat everyone with such respect, it is amazing.”
Our annual swim meet schedule has developed quite a nice cadence with every meet during the season having its own purpose and meaning. It seems like every week I find myself writing that “this is my favorite meet of the year”, so I’ll try to back off a bit on the hyperbole, but I definitely had a great time hosting all these schools and coaching all of you this past weekend.
Wow, That Was a Fast Meet!
The level of competition was the highest we’ve seen all season so far (except for National Catholics), and it showed with three (3) new Meet Records and a new Team Record.
Congratulations to Mary Clare Waldron who broke Ann Duran’s 2008 6-Dive record of 144.90 with her score of 151.50 on Saturday! It was a great performance that bodes well for Clare’s chances of scoring during our run for the VISAA Division II State Championship in a few weeks. I think I’ll wait a bit before I climb up to the record board in the gym though, because I have a hunch that Clare is not done improving this season.
The level of competition on the swimming side was even more remarkable, starting with our Swimmers of the Meet:
- Matthew Johnson, St. Paul VI
- Gold medals in 200 IM, 100 Breaststroke, and 200 Free Relay plus an incredible 48.71 anchor leg for a Silver medal in the 400 Free Relay
- Kate Bailey, Bishop O’Connell
- Gold medals in 50 Free, 100 Back, and the 400 Free Relay which she led-off to a new meet record. She also led off O’Connell’s Silver medal 200 Medley Relay
Another indication of the level of competition was the three (3) new Meet Records set on Saturday:
- Girls 200 Medley Relay, 1:50.56, St. Paul VI, Zoe Celi, Ashley Kirby, Caroline Murphy, and Abigail Foley
- Boys 400 Free Relay, 3:21.89, Bishop O’Connell, Chris Kinsella, Kevin Carchia, Liam Hickey, and Brenden Mullen
- Girls 400 Free, 3:42.53, Bishop O’Connell, Kate Bailey, Patricia Leonard, Piper Buswell, Caroline Mullen
A final indication of just how fast this meet was can be seen in the final scores. Seton performed very well, and we still took 3rd place for both the Boys and Girls by wide margins:
Bishop O’Connell 410
St. Paul VI 361
Seton Swimming 199.5
Bishop Ireton 145
Saint John Paul the Great 133
Benedictine College Prep 123.5
Bishop O’Connell 442
St. Paul VI 417
Seton Swimming 185
Bishop Ireton 176
Saint John Paul the Great 98
St. Gertrude 24
The score doesn’t show it, but on the Girls side, the meet came down to the final relay. St. Paul VI had an inspired meet. As Coach Baker of O’Connell put it in an e-mail to me yesterday:
“But wow, PVI gave us such a good meet and really brought out the best in us”
Just as a fan of swimming, I have to say that I really had fun watching those two schools battle it out. As our young swimmers mature, I’m expecting to watch Seton become part of those battles in the next few years!
This meet was scored as a championship meet with twelve (12) places scored, and per the scoring rules, relays scored double. Even with a meet this fast, we still had some of our youngest swimmers shine through at or near the top. Here are Seton’s Top-3 finishers – look at what grade they are in – very cool:
- Ariana Aldeguer (7) didn’t appear in the scoring because she is only in 7th grade, but that didn’t prevent her from being the only Seton swimmer to finish in 1st place on Saturday. After dropping 3.39 seconds in the 200 IM, she touched first by more than 3 seconds! 2:16.76 is smoking fast for a 12-year-old girl. Heck, our team record is 2:11.80 set by Jessica Dunn in 2008. I don’t think it is going to take much longer for me to have to climb a ladder in the gym to change that one out. And her 1.32 second PR in 100 Breaststroke would have placed 8th. Wow!
- Connor Koehr (FR) missed first place in Diving by less than a point! Way less – only 0.15 points! In a field of 13 divers, including several that will be competing at the VISAA State Championships, that is pretty strong. Connor finished in the top 8 in the virtual State Championship last season, and he is looking like he is well positioned to score in this year’s State Championship also. He also cut 14.37 seconds in 500 Free to score in 8th
- Clara Condon (FR) took our only other Silver medal with her strong swim in 200 IM. She also scored in 6th place in 100 Fly.
- Josh Fioramonti (8) was our final top-3 finisher with his great performance in Diving. After barely missing 1st and then taking 3rd, Seton Divers weren’t done – Josh’s brother took 4th place. Josh also cut .37 seconds in 50 Free and .60 seconds in 100 Free.
Here are the other Seton athletes that performed well enough to score in the Top-12:
- Nathan Luevano (JR) back from his ear infection like a man on a mission, dropping 1.39 seconds in 100 Free to go 54.70 and score in 4th place in a superfast heat. Nathan also had a strong swim in 100 Backstroke where he scored in 6th
- Mick Fioramonti (10) took 4th place in the field of 13 divers giving Seton Divers the overall victory in the event over Saint Paul VI by an event score of 36 to 26. Coach Ashley Keapproth and Coach Seamus Koehr had to be very proud of their boys! Mick also took 8th in 100 Back with a .12 second PR and had .89 second and .46 second PRs in 50 Free and 50 Back leading off a relay.
- Mary Clare Waldron (SR) took 4th place in a field of 12 divers, beating the Divers for every school except O’Connell. Her team record score of 151.50 was a lifetime best by 17.48 points. She also scored in 10th in 100 Breaststroke.
- Joe Wilson (JR) had two strong swims including a 5th place finish in 200 IM and a 7th place finish in 100 Fly.
- Angie Testani (FR) landed in a very competitive heat of 100 Breaststroke and scored in 5th She also scored in 8th place in 200 Free.
- JJ Brox (JR) rocked his 100 Breaststroke, beating his previous best by 3.05 seconds to come within .60 seconds of the State cut. (At the time, we had thought he hit it, but the time on the Meet Program was off). His great swim jumped him up from the 8th seed to 5th
- Maggie Gibbons (SO) dropped a huge 3.22 seconds in 100 Back to score in 6th She entered the meet seeded 10th. Maggie also dropped 4.88 seconds in 200 Free to score in 11th place.
- Drew Nguyen (FR) took my admonition to be a four-stroke swimmer to heart when he moved out of the freestyle sprints to score in 8th place in 100 Breaststroke after a .49 second PR swim. Drew also did his best time ever in 100 Free, by .79 seconds, to score in 9th Sub-57 is Drew’s next key milestone.
- Isabelle Luevano (SR) has been having a great season, and it continued Saturday with an 8th place finish in 50 Free and a 10th place finish in 100 Free.
- Teresa Bingham (SR) is pushing through her final season on the Seton team with more Personal Records. I was so pleased to see her drop another 14.80 seconds in 500 Free to score in 8th
- Rose Waldron (FR) continues to grow as a Diver, and it showed with her 8th place finish in a meet this competitive.
- Mary Pennefather (JR) took the heavy responsibility of anchoring all three (3) of our relays so that left her with the opportunity to swim just one (1) individual event – in this case, it was the super-competitive 50 Free where she scored in 9th.
- Michael Brox (FR) is starting to show his significant potential in the middle-distance freestyle events. After a drop of 1.76 seconds in the 200 Free, he scored in 9th He also took 10th in the 500 Free.
- David Hudson (SO) swam right on his lifetime best in 50 Free to score in 9th place in a very fast final heat. He also dropped 2.91 seconds in 100 Fly to go 1:04.98, a time that will be pretty competitive in the VCAC.
- Emma Catabui (SR) decided to join the Diving Team for the first-time last year, and her perseverance helped us win a State Championship. She’s continuing to improve through her senior season, and the result was a 9th place finish on Saturday.
- Emily Flynn (SR) missed a huge chunk of December it seemed, but I can see her coming back strong just in time for the Championship season. Her 50 and 100 Free were right on her life-time bests and scored in 10th and 11th place, respectively.
- Mary O’Malley (SR) found a little niche in 200 Free and scored in 10th place for Seton.
- Joey Dealey’s (JR) long stroke got the job done in 200 Free after his 4.77 second PR moved him up to 10th
- Jacqueline Oswald (JR) had a great swim in the 500 Free, breaking the 7:00 minute barrier for the first time after her 10.47 second PR to take 11th.
- William Sokban (FR) continues to grow in the breadth of events in which he can compete. This past weekend, I gave him the chance to compete in the 200 and 500 Freestyle, and he rewarded my good judgement with a 12th and an 11th place finish, respectively.
- Madelyn Zadnik (SO) tackled the difficult double of 200 IM and 100 Fly and made it look easy with 11th and 17th place finishes, respectively.
- Peter Konstanty (SO) had a tremendous swim in 200 IM, dropping 4.65 seconds to take 11th
- Theresa Byers (SR) stretched her wings again this season by trying Diving . I was happy to see it because it got Seton the 11th place points on Saturday after a 25.20-point PR.
- Jacob Oswald (FR) doesn’t swim, but he that doesn’t mean he can’t make an impact on the scoring with his fast-developing Diving skills. Those skills were good enough to score in 11th place for Seton.
- Seth Kellogg (FR) fought through a headache to score in 12th place in 100 Breaststroke.
- Céilí Koehr (SR) showed she can get it done with her 12th place finish in 500 Free.
- Jed Albin (SO) had a huge 18.59 second drop in 500 Free to jump to a scoring position by finishing in 12th
- Ryan Beltran (SO) scored in 100 Backstroke in 12th Ryan also led off a medley relay with a .51 second PR in 50 Back.
A Few Special Performances
Besides some of the time swims I’ve already highlighted, there are always a few others that might not have a big impact on the outcome of the meet but are still pretty special:
- Kevin Orellana (SR) all but begged me to swim the 500 Free again. He’s come so far, and it was the last possible chance for him, so I just couldn’t say no. Unfortunately, this was a very fast meet, so I told him, “Kevin, I’ll put you in it, but you have to push yourself to the same level of exhaustion that you feel on a soccer field, OK?” Kevin agreed to the terms of the deal, and then went on to swim a 22.81 second PR. The first time Kevin swam the 500, he went 14:18.13. On Saturday, he went 9:02.38. Not too bad! If you haven’t had a chance to see my post-race interview with Kevin, it is worth pulling up the livestream and going to about the 2:22 mark.
- Elodie Brox (FR) showed her huge heart in 100 Breaststroke. She’s been fighting through the pain of a sprained wrist, but that didn’t stop her from pushing hard all the way into the wall. With a text-book finish, she punched through the wall with her all the way down to beat the girl in the next lane by 0.10 seconds. She was behind at the flags. Her finish resulted in a 1.11 second PR. Now let that wrist heal!
- Madelyn Zadnik (SO) has been pushing up against the :30 second barrier in 50 Free for a long time now. She ended last season at 30.54, and this season, she’s went 30.16 and the 30.01 – so close! Well on Saturday, she finally broke through with a 29.77 lead-off leg for a 200 Free Relay. I understand that there was a big family celebration of the accomplishment. Great work Maddie!
Positioning to Win Some Championships
We have some big goals ahead of us in February.
For the Boys, we need to win the VCAC Conference Championship Meet. After that painful 1-point loss for the VCAC Regular Season Championship, it is time to rise up stronger. I’m projecting a victory based on our depth, but everyone must get healthy, and everyone must swim well.
When I way “everyone”, I don’t just mean Joe, Nathan, and David. If we beat Trinity Christian on February 12th, it will because we managed to get all four (4) of our scoring swimmers into the top-12 for several of the events. In meets as close as this one is likely to be, “everyone” matters.
For the Girls, we are settling for nothing short our 2nd consecutive VISAA Division II State Championship. If we pull it off, it would be our 6th championship for the girls and our 10th overall.
I’m expecting our big competition at States to be the Steward School again. Last year, we beat them by only 3 points, and all their top swimmers are back. Looking on SwimCloud, their medley relay has already been 1:51 so they are very fast. We are capable of that time – and better. I expect it come down to the last night where perhaps we put Lucy Garvey in the 100 Back Final and both Angie Testani and Clara Condon in the 100 Breaststroke Final? Interestingly also, I don’t see any Diving results for them. Mary Clare Waldron, Rosie Waldron, and Emma Catabui could be the difference – again!
104 Personal Records for 106 competitors is a very strong total. That brings our Seton season total to 775 PRs – our goal is to hit 1,000. It is going to be close. That high total is yet another data point that proves our basic coaching thesis at Seton Swimming, “The fastest way to make a high school swimmer faster is to get them doing the strokes right.”
This was particularly true for our Group 5 swimmers who focused on backstroke at this meet.
Here are the Personal Records that were swum at Saturday that I have not previously mentioned (I think I’ll start with the Z’s this time):
- Michael Zahorchak (7) had his two best swims of the season with a 1.32 second drop in 100 Free and a .32 second drop in 50 Free.
- Cate Waldron (SO) beat her lifetime best in 100 Free by 1.72 seconds.
- Nick Vaughan (FR) had a huge drop in 100 Backstroke, beating his previous PR by 14.70 seconds. He also cut 1.28 seconds from his 50 Free PR.
- Daniel Sokban (7) crushed his previous 100 Backstroke PR by 4.11 seconds and beat his previous 50 Free PR by .01 seconds.
- Briana Shillingburg (FR) used her new underwaters to drop 6.32 seconds in 100 Back and 2.94 seconds in 50 Free.
- Gabriella Russo (7) lowered her 100 Back PR by .98 seconds and her 50 Free PR by .52 seconds.
- Joe Rowzie (SR) swam the 6th faster 50 Free split on the team this season after a huge 1.07 second drop.
- Lizzie Rohan (FR) unleashed some strength to drop .55 seconds in 100 Free.
- Noemi Rodriguez (7) used a strong underwater body dolphin to cut a massive 10.12 seconds from her 100 Back PR. He also cut .47 seconds from her 50 Free PR.
- John Pugh (FR) made Coach Pretz proud with a 30.92 second PR in 100 Backstroke. He also had a 2.04 second PR in 50 Free.
- Jenna Novecosky (JR) dropped 4.54 seconds in 100 Free.
- Anthony Morales (8) looked great in his 50 Free, and it showed in a time that was 1.15 seconds faster than ever before.
- Michael McGrath (SO) dropped 3.43 seconds from his 50 Back PR while leading off a relay.
- Anna McGrath (FR) whacked 5.47 seconds from her 100 Back PR on the strength of her walls.
- Elizabeth Maranian (SR) swam beautifully, dropping 9.64 seconds in 100 Free and 1.02 seconds in 50 Free.
- Chris Lynch (SO) broke :30 in 50 Free for the first time after a .95 second PR. He also cut .33 seconds from his 200 IM PR.
- Nathan Luevano (JR) cut another .25 seconds from his already speedy 100 Free PR while leading off a relay.
- Cora Kramer (7) looked awesome during her 17.38 second PR swim in 100 Breaststroke and her 3.46 second PR swim in 50 Free.
- Dominic Judge (7) had a great swim in 100 Backstroke, beating his previous PR by 1.87 seconds.
- Mary Catherine Hurley (FR) had the fastest 100 Breaststroke swim of her life with a 1.80 second PR.
- John Henry Hawley (8) dropped 1.16 seconds in 50 Free. I would have loved to see what he could do in 100 Free.
- Peter Hartung (FR) made Coach DD Ross proud with his 11.91 second PR in 100 Backstroke.
- Patrick Hartung (JR) cut .14 seconds in 50 Back leading off a relay and .79 seconds in 50 Free.
- Gabe Hambleton (8) clicked with the underwater body dolphin we worked on last week, and the result was a 20.35 second PR in 100 Backstroke. He also cut .20 seconds in 50 Free.
- Orla Haggerty (FR) dropped 1.59 seconds in 100 Free.
- Aoife Haggerty (7) cut a huge 9.04 seconds in 100 Free.
- Max Gonzalez (FR) saw a massive drop in 50 Back leading off a relay, lowering his PR by 2.26 seconds. He also cut 1.86 seconds in 100 Back.
- Cate Gillson (7) cut 2.27 seconds from her 50 Free PR.
- Amelia Geary (SO) used a big overhand sprint freestyle to cut 1.01 seconds from her 50 Free PR.
- Elizabeth Francis (FR) hit a PR in 50 Back by 1.15 seconds and in 100 Free by 2.52 seconds.
- Kyleigh Fifield (7) got promoted to the next higher practice group this morning. Her 4.18 second PR in 100 Back and her .51 second PR in 50 Free were certainly contributing factors.
- Haley Fifield (FR) swam three (3) PRs on Saturday. In 200 IM she dropped 5.14 seconds, in 50 Free she dropped .16 seconds, and in 100 Back she dropped .24 seconds.
- Ben Ellis (7) dropped a huge 9.71 seconds in 100 Back.
- Rebekah DeWolf (SR) cut 1.77 seconds in 50 Free and 1.48 seconds in 100 Free.
- Lucy Cunningham (FR) lowered her 100 Back PR by 7.20 seconds and her 50 Free PR by .94 seconds.
- Joseph Borneman (FR) is improving rapidly. On Saturday he dropped 4.36 seconds in 200 Free and 1.28 seconds in 50 Free leading off a relay.
- Nora Blanchette (8) dropped 3.51 seconds in 100 Back on the strength of her walls.
- Aaron Bishop (SO) cut 1.45 seconds from his 50 Free PR.
- Greg Bauer (8) dropped .78 seconds in 50 Free.
- Julia Atkinson (SO) looked great in 50 and 100 Free, lowering her PRs by .77 seconds and .24 seconds, respectively.
- Ariana Aldeguer (7) didn’t just crush the 200 IM, she also swam 100 Breaststroke in 1:17.06, a new PR by 1.32 seconds.
Here are how some of the swimmers on the Seton Family Homeschool team did:
- Lily Waldron (6) dropped 3.98 seconds in 100 Breaststroke.
- Joseph Minarik (SO) cut a massive 8.90 seconds from his 100 Backstroke PR. He also cut .52 seconds in 50 Free.
- Dominic Miller (SO) cut another .54 seconds from his 50 Free PR to get down to 27.75.
- Monica Irving (6) was one of the swimmers who took to the underwater body dolphin the best, and the result on Saturday was a 5.46 second PR in 100 Backstroke.
- Elizabeth Hurley (6) went the length of the pool underwater on her back at practice last week. That new-found ability really helped her cut 5.81 seconds from her 100 Back PR and 5.18 seconds from her 50 Back PR leading off a relay. I’m sure it didn’t hurt for her .75 second PR in 50 Free either.
- Clare “Lieutenant” Heiny (6) had a huge 6.90 second drop in 100 Breaststroke and a .76 second drop in 50 Free.
- Veronica Gonzalez (6) lowered her 100 Breaststroke PR by 4.61 seconds and her 50 Free PR by .98 seconds.
- Anastasia Garvey (8) cut 3.88 seconds in 100 Backstroke and 1.55 seconds in 100 Free.
The Rest of the Season
We are hosting one final meet before we must cut the team down to just the Varsity swimmers. I’ll be posting these Meet Announcements this coming week:
- VISAA Junior Varsity Invitational on January 29th at the Fitch WARF in Warrenton.
- All swimmers who are in 9th grade and below will be entered in this meet unless I hear from you that you cannot make it.
- I also plan to enter non-Varsity upperclassmen to give you one final chance to have some fun swimming 50s, but you won’t be able to score.
- Upper-class Varsity swimmers should plan to come and help cheer or time.
After the JV Invitational, the remaining meets for the year will not allow any exhibition swimmers. Those meets are:
- VISAA Division II Invitational Championship on Saturday, February 5th at the Freedom Center
- VCAC Conference Championship on Saturday, February 12th at the Fitch WARF
I will be limited for these final two (2) championship meets to four (4) entries per individual event and two (2) entries per relay event. At most, that takes 16-18 boys and 16-18 girls, not counting Divers.
So, what I’ve already done is prepared a draft of our entries for the Division II Invitational, lining up the team to be as competitive as possible. If you are on that entry list, you are on the Varsity team.
I’ve posted the members of this season’s post-season Varsity team in my blog, below.
If you are not a Varsity swimmer or Diver, then this is your last week of the season. On Thursday for the last half of practice, the Captains will be running some fun relays and other games. This will be the final non-Varsity practice of the season.
Everyone should plan to come to practice on Thursday, including swimmers who normally practice on Wednesday/Friday. There will be no practice on Friday.
On so many levels, I was very pleased with what I saw on Saturday.
We have one month left. Let’s go get some more championships.
See you at 6:04 a.m. Come ready for the final push.
Coach Jim Koehr