Wow!  It sure has been a great couple of weeks for Seton Swimming.  From Anna Kenna’s championship swim at National Catholics in Baltimore, to an incredibly fun Junior Varsity Invitational, to Cat Pechie’s big PR in 200 Free at our January 17th Invitational at Central Park, our team is really starting to do well – and just in time for the championship season.

Coaching a team as big and as active as Seton’s can be an awful lot of work, but it is weekends like this past weekend that remind me of the great joy that the job has brought me over the years.  It was a gift that has me revived and ready for our run toward States.

National Catholics

There is so much to talk about, but I simply have to start with National Catholics.  Last weekend (Jan 24-25), we traveled up to Loyola University in Baltimore with seven (7) qualifying swimmers to compete in the National Catholic High School Championship.  We stayed in Baltimore’s Little Italy section and visited several interesting restaurants with our tour guide – the Siren of the Sea, Mr. Heim – but the most fun, of course, was the great swimming.

It was a very fast meet, but not too fast for our girls, all of whom had at least one opportunity swim during the championship finals.  With only six (6) girls and one boy swimmer, we had 11 Personal Records, one new team record – Anna Kenna broke her own team record in 100 Back by more than a second – and an individual National Catholic High School Championship.  

Here are the highlights from the meet

  • Anna Kenna was a star among stars for Seton in Baltimore:
    • Her singularly best performance was in 100 Backstroke, of course.  In prelims, she went a season best 1:00.06 to enter finals as the 2nd seed, with the prime competition coming from a girl from Notre Dame Prep in Baltimore and Bishop O’Connell’s top backstroker, a girl who was not at NoVa Catholics so we didn’t know about her.  Turns out she is a top USA swimmer so she was a force to be reckoned with.
      • During warm-up for the Finals, we decided that her best chance was to improve her finish and try to take better advantage of her hips and core during her underwaters – and she was excellent with both aspects in the actual race.  On the breakout off of the start, Anna was already a quarter body-length ahead of the field, and that resulted in a .07 second lead over the ND Prep girl and a .70 second lead over the O’Connell girl at the 50-yard mark.
      • The 2nd 50 was all heart from Anna who trains only about 7,000 yards per week.  A typical top USA swimmer may do literally 10 times that amount.  Could Anna hold on for a strong underwater off of her 3rd turn at that level of conditioning?  When all three swimmers hit the 3rd wall together, I knew it was going to come down that underwater and how she hit the finish.  When they broke out, Anna was the length of her head ahead of them – amazing!  And that was all she needed to hold on.  At the flags, she took one more stroke than normal as we worked on in warm-up, she touched hard, and she looked up.  She had won by .24 seconds with a 58.69!  No one could believe, including the two girls that she just beat – Anna came out of no-where in their minds, I’m sure.
    • Let’s put that 58.69 in Girls 100 Backstroke in a little perspective:
    • As of January 25th, it is the fastest girls 100 Backstroke swum by any female from an independent school in the State of Virginia
    • It crushed our team record, held by Anna, by more than a second.
    • It was faster than Kevin Koehr’s backstroke time at the same point in his career.  Kevin was an All-America backstroker who swam on scholarship at Virginia Tech – and he’s a boy.  On the last weekend of January, 2004 Kevin went 58.91 in a meet at the Freedom Center.
    • Her first 50 split was 28.31 and her second 50 split was 30.38.  With the level of conditioning typical of a USA swimmer who is training hard, it is typical for the 50 splits to be only one second apart.  In other words, she is fully capable of going :57 with nothing more than some basic conditioning.
    • The All-America Consideration time for girls 100 Backstroke is :56.62 – and Anna is only a freshman. So congratulations to Anna.
    • Anna is Seton’s 5th individual National Catholic HS Champion following:
      • Kevin Koehr – 100 Backstroke
      • Nevin Cook – 100 Breaststroke (3X) and 200 IM
      • Jameson Hill – 200 Free (2X) and 500 Free (2X) plus twice voted National Catholic MVP and holder of two National Catholic HS records.
      • Alex Doonis – 100 Free
    • But Anna did far more than just win an individual championship though.  She also took 6th place in 100 Free with a very fast 55:28, and she lead off two relays that qualified for the championship final.  In the 200 Medley Relay, she split 27.57 in 50 Back, easily the fastest split in the meet, and in the 200 Free Relay, she cut .56 seconds from her 50 Free PR to go a very fast 25.57!
    • All-in-all, it was quite a weekend for our freshman swimmer, Anna Kenna!
  • Our Girls 200 Medley Relay of Anna Kenna, Emily Heim, Alex Sinner and Claire Kenna is really starting to gel.  They took 5th place with a 1:54.70 – a 4.11 second PR!  Anna led-off with a her meet-fastest backstroke, as usual, but it was the other three girls that really improved – a lot!
    • Emily Heim split 33.11 in finals, a time that was .91 seconds faster than any time since last year at States.
    • Alex Sinner spent much of the season working to solidify her spot on this relay, and boy did she do it Sunday.  Here 28.27 split is easily the fastest on the team so far this season
    • And Claire Kenna rocked the anchor let with a 25.75.
    • Times are getting faster as we approach States, but using the Top 16 Times report through January 20th, that would be the 2nd fastest time swum by an independent school relay so far this season.  Unfortunately, the fastest has been swum by our Division II rival, Hampton Roads Academy.
  • Our Girls 200 Free Relay of Anna Kenna, Dani Flook, Kimberly Rector and Claire Kenna also qualified for the championship finals, ultimately taking 7th place.
    • The sum of their 50 Free PRs was 1:46.54, but together, they went 1:45.47.
    • All of them had tremendous splits, particularly Anna on the front end and Claire on the back-end, both with an identical 25.57!
    • Claire Kenna showed that she is so much more than just a sprinter – she’s a breaststroker!  In fact, after this weekend, I’d have to say that breaststroke is her best stroke!
    • She entered the meet with a PR of 1:14.53, so imagine our surprise when we looked up at the scoreboard after her Preliminary swim and saw a 1:12.66!
    • In the Finals of 100 Breaststroke, she repeated that 1:12 again and took 8th place.
    • Claire also took 12th place in 50 Free with a 26.35.  I can easily see her breaking :26 from a standing start in the next two (2) weeks.
  • Kimberly Rector’s 500 Free sure was fun to watch.  She’s been fighting all year to get back to her PR in the event, and it took a fight with a strong swimmer from Mount de Sales Academy to pull it out of her.  In the Consolation Finals, Kimberly let the girl get a small lead and just hung on her hip for the first half of the race – and then she made her move.  The last 150 was very exciting with Kimberly holding her off to take 9th place with a 5:35.78, easily her best time since States last year.  Kimberly also took 16th place in 200 Free.
  • Our Girls 400 Free Relay of Dani Flook, Alex Sinner, Emily Heim and Kimberly Rector took 10th place.
    • Both Alex and Emily were swimming this event immediately after 100 Breaststroke, so I was very pleased with their splits even though they’ve gone faster, and Kimberly swam right at her best time.
    • But it was Dani Flook who was the stand-out in this one.
    • Dani Flook’s shining moment for the meet was in the Finals of the Girls 400 Free Relay when she led off with a 100 Free PR of 59.96, beating her previous best by 2.46 seconds!  Dani also took 19th in 100 Back and 24th in 50 Free with a .33 second PR.
  • Emily Heim, besides her great relay swims, had PRs in both of her individual events.  In 100 Breaststroke, she dropped .07 seconds from her State time last year to go 1:13.94 and in 50 Free, she cut .04 seconds from her PR.  She placed 13th and 39th in the events, respectively.
  • Alex Sinner scored in both the 200 IM and 100 Breaststroke, taking 15th place in each.  After that great butterfly relay split, I think we’re going to see how she might do in 100 Fly this coming week!
  • Brian Koehr was the odd-man out this weekend – literally.
    • Brian had the distinctive honor of being Seton’s only boy to qualify for the meet – and he sure made the best of his opportunity.  While the Girl’s Prelims were on Saturday morning, the Boy’s Prelims were Saturday afternoon.  So after lunch, all of the girls came back to the pool to cheer Brian in his attempts to get State cuts in both the 50 and 100 Free.
    • Their cheering must have really worked, because he crushed the cuts in both events.  First, in the 50 Free, he cut .51 seconds from his PR to 23.91, and then in the 100 Free, he cut .53 seconds from his PR to go 53.56.
    • Congratulations Brian for being Seton’s first male State Qualifier!
    • That time is pretty fast, so it got me wondering where it ranked among his brothers (other than Kevin).  It’s been a sort of right of passage when Koehr boys break :55 because that means they are faster than their mother was at Notre Dame ;-), but there’s also a not-so-quiet competition amongst themselves.  While I’m happy to report to Sean, Dan, Brendan and Patrick – Brian just beat all of you!
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