Last Saturday, we hosted our 17th annual VISAA Division II Invitational. It was a dominating performance for both our Boys and our Girls with the boys winning by almost 100 points and the girls winning by almost 200.
We created this meet 16-years ago in 2007 so that all the Division II schools could have a chance to come together before States for a fun competition where we could all get the chance to know each other better. Then we could all go down to States have a great competition for our kids also, not just the kids at the big schools.
One data point to show how well it has worked is that this year, the meet had 21 schools who brought 333 swimmers – that is nearly 3/5ths the size of the State Championship meet.
Several years ago, we stole page from our NoVa Catholic playbook by creating a traveling trophy with a plaque for all the past winners on it. The idea is that the winner each year will take the trophy back to their school for the year and then return with it the next year to defend their title.
Seton Swimming appears on both the Girls and Boys trophies most of the time between 2008 and 2013, but after that, the meet has largely been dominated by Hampton Roads Academy, who took home both of trophies the next four (4) years.
After 2019, when Hampton Roads took the Boys championship for the 5th time and Trinity Christian took the Girl’s championship for the first time, Seton has largely returned to our winning ways. Except for one more girl’s win by Trinity Christian and one boy’s win by the Covenant School last year, the Seton boys and girls have won three (3) out of the last four (4).
Congratulations to our Seton Boys and Girls, the VISAA Division II Invitational Swimming and Diving Champions for 2023!
I’d also like to congratulate our Swimmers of the Meet, both of whom were selected by a vote of the coaches:
- Boys – Joshua Fisher, Veritas. Josh won Gold medals in 100 Backstroke and 200 IM, breaking Meet records both times. Believe it or not, this is the third year in a row that Joshua has won Swimmer of the Meet Honors. It was unbelievably fun watching him swim – he was like a man amongst boys in the pool on Saturday.
- Girls – Madisyn Carter, Highland School. Madisyn was the only girl in the meet to win two (2) Gold medals which she won in 100 Fly and 100 Back.
This meet just keeps getting faster. We had four (4) new Meet Records set on Saturday, including one from a new swimmer in the VISAA from Stonebridge.
- Boys 200 Free, 1:44.62, Gabe Nunziata, Stonebridge
- Boys 200 IM, 1:51.08, Joshua Fisher, Veritas
- Boys 500 Free, 4:48.52, Will Charlton, Covenant
- Boys 100 Back, 48.87, Joshua Fisher, Veritas
Carrying the precedent from our old Delaney Athletic Conference, we have also traditionally counted this meet for VCAC Championship Meet Records also, but none of those records were broken this time.
Ariana Aldeguer (8) came within .08 of breaking the 200 IM Conference record though, so we’ll talk about her amazing day of swimming shortly.
Championship Meet Scoring
This meet was scored as a championship meet, where the top 12 places earned scores from 16 to 1.
Both our boys and girls got off to a blazing start with pre-meet points in diving and then great scoring performances in the first Medley Relay. In diving, the boys took, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th and the girls took 2nd. Then in the Medley Relays, our boys “A” and “B” Relays scored in 2nd and 5th and the girls scored in 1st and 3rd!
At that very early point in the meet, we had nearly triple of the points of our nearest competitors for both the boys and girls, and our kids never looked back.
For the 21 teams involved, here’s how the meet scores looked for the top finishers when it was all over:
- Seton School 310.5
- Steward School 128
- Virginia Episcopal 115
- Nansemond-Suffolk 112
- Norfolk Collegiate 101.5
- Fredericksburg Christian 89
- Hampton Roads Academy 76
- Stonebridge 65
- The Covenant School 62
- Highland 58
- Seton School 275
- Trinity Christian School 181
- The Covenant School 181
- Immanuel Christian 162
- Steward School 94
- Walsingham Academy 90
- Christchurch 82
- Hampton Roads Academy 67
- Virginia Episcopal 49
- Fredericksburg Christian 48
Ariana Aldeguer Breaks Jessica Dunn’s 2008 Record in 200 IM!
In February of 2007, Jessica Dunn was a Junior competing at States for Seton in the 200 IM. Her 2:14.25 was not the fastest time of her career, she still had her senior year remaining, but it was the best swim I ever saw from her.
Here is Jessica’s swim at Hargrave Military Academy from the Seton Swimming’s All-Time Greatest Performances YouTube Channel.
The following February during the Championship Finals of the 2008 State Championship Meet at the Freedom Center, Jessica crushed her own team record when she swam 200 IM in only 2:11.80.
Today, Jessica (Dunn) Alfree is a 33-year-old Family Nurse Practitioner who was married a year ago January. Joseph Minarik’s mother Margaret tells me that she will be attending a baby shower for Jessica in April. Congratulations Jessica!
About a year and a half after Jessica established the 200 IM standard by which all future Seton swimmers would be measured, a little girl was born to Joe and Anita Aldeguer who they would name Ariana.
Ariana, only an 8th grader, has been flirting with Jessica’s record all season. The first time I realized that she could possibly break it this year was at the very first meet when she went 2:13.83 after dropping nearly 3-seconds from her PR. Then at National Catholics, she cut deficit in half in the Championship Finals when she went 2:12.67.
Knowing that Ariana is also very good at the 200 Free, I decided to use this weekend’s meet to let her try to get the job done so I had options as a coach for the final two (2) competitive situations. Even though, by the time we got to the actual meet, I had completely forgotten my entry logic, Ariana did not let me down.
Ariana took the race out with a blazing 28.71 for the opening Fly leg to take a .78 second lead. That lead was extended by another nearly 2 seconds after backstroke, and then by another more than 3.5 seconds after breaststroke. With her 30.55 final freestyle split, she ended up taking the Gold medal by 8.10 seconds!
If you click on the recording of the livestream here, you can see her race starting at the 1:08.30 mark in the video. If you watch through the 1:17.00 mark, you can hear an interview with Ariana and our discussion of her race.
Next up for Ariana are the two Katie Shipko records in the 200 Free and the 500 Free from 2000 and 1999, respectively. Katie’s 200 Free record is 1:55.74 and Ariana’s PR is 1:58.07. In the 500 Free, Katie set the record at 5:06.98 and Ariana’s PR is 5:14.65.
Congratulations Ariana Aldeguer!
I saw loads of great swimming on Saturday, but there were some performances that really caught my attention, particularly after I had a chance to look at the results in detail. Not all of these performances resulted in medals, but that is not what makes a great performance at Seton Swimming:
- Stella Paradise (JR) had four (4) courageous swims on Saturday. After being sick and missing a couple days of school, she showed up to the meet not feeling well but willing to give it her best. What more can you ask? It turned out that her best was pretty darn good. She started off in the medley relay where she swam the Fly leg .09 seconds faster than ever before. Then in the 200 Free, not the kind of event that you want to swim while under-the-weather, she actually swam a .87 second and took the Bronze medal! Finally, in 100 Free, she was right on her PR and took the Gold medal! I can’t wait to see what Stella can do over the next two (2) weekends when she’s feeling good!
- Lucy Cunningham (SO) didn’t surprise me with her 12.27 second PR in the 500 Free to score in 10th I just knew she had it in her, and I could tell by watching her warm-up, that she finally knew it too. Then, in the very next individual event, 100 Back, she continued to push herself to a 2.26 second PR even though she had just swum the 500. I think Lucy “literally astounded herself”!
- Connor Koehr (SO) may have had the best meet of his life on Saturday. Not only did he take the Gold medal in Diving, but he had some massive drops while swimming too. He started with a big .60 second PR in 50 Backstroke while leading off a medley relay with a 27.34. That helped our relay drop nearly 2 whole seconds to now have the 13th fastest time in the VISAA. Then he raced 100 Free and cut an unbelievable 3.18 seconds to go 55.81. And as if that weren’t enough, he finally hit the State cut and scored in 6th place in 100 Backstroke with a 1.01.10, another massive PR, by 2.83 seconds. Wow!
- Elodie Brox (SO) was on fire Saturday! Her best swim was her 100 Free where she dropped from 1:03.90 to 1:01.22, a 2.68 second PR. She all had a big PR in 100 Breaststroke, by .93 seconds, and in 50 Free leading off the relay – without taking a single breath! Mary Pennefather (SR) joined Elodie is that feat.
- Drew Nguyen (SO) is starting to figure out how to race, and it showed in his 200 IM and 100 Free. In 100 Free, he dropped from 56.08 to 54.95 to earn a spot on the “A” 400 Free Relay! In the 200 IM, he took it out like he was unafraid and dropped 6.22 seconds as a result.
- Anastasia Garvey (FR) has really come on strong since National Catholics. She’s capable of competing in all eight (8) individual events so I thought she could score big in the 500 Free on Saturday. She proved me right, jumping from the 8th seed to a 5th place finish after a 24.11 second PR. She also jumped into a top-12 scoring spot after her 2.09 second PR in 100 Fly.
- JJ Brox (SR) jumped up to the “A” 200 Free Relay with a .26 second PR split in 50 Free. His 24.20 is now the 4th fastest on the team. In the 100 Free, from a flat start, he dropped .64 seconds to go 54.20, now the 3rd fastest time or split on the team. And in 100 Breaststroke, he cut another .11 seconds from the big PR he set earlier in January.
- Dominic Judge (8) just earned a spot on the Varsity team for his great January swim in the 500 Free. On Saturday, he continued his string of great performances in that event by dropping another 8.19 seconds to score in 9th place! Dominic also gave the 200 IM a shot as an extra exhibition event and swam an outstanding time.
- Daniel Sokban (8) also just made the Varsity team as an 8th grader for his willingness to attack the 200 and 500 Free. In the 200 Free, Daniel scored in the top 8 with a 4.98 second PR, 2:13.79. Then, in the 500 Free, Daniel took advantage of the opportunity to drop 10.19 seconds down to 6:31.19. Daniel has had one heck of a last two (2) weeks swimming!
- Max Wilson (SO) must have been thinking that he did something wrong if his coach would put him in three (3) consecutive 100-yard events (my mistake!). If that was what he was thinking, it certainly didn’t show. First, he lowered his 100 Back by to 1:05.19 with big 1.53 second drop to score in 11th In the very next event, 100 Breaststroke, Max cut .09 seconds to go a fast 1:18.14. And finally, in his 3rd event in a row, the 400 Free Relay, he split within .72 seconds of his PR. Great work Max!
There was one more stand-out performance by a member of our team that I think is worth mentioning. Our Captain-of-Captains Mary Pennefather is not just a great swimmer, she is also one of the most prolific scorers in the history of Seton girls’ basketball.
On Thursday night, I was lucky enough to be in the Seton Gym to watch Mary score her 2,000th point for Seton. I understand that her Aunt, T. Pennefather, is the only other Seton girl’s basketball player to break the 2,000-point threshold – and that was almost 30-years ago!
Medal Winners for Seton
Like most championship meets, we gave Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, and we had a number of swimmers walk across the bulkhead during the awards ceremonies. Surprisingly though, the list below is not as long as you might think given the disparity in the final scores. If any single statistic reveals the power our depth, it is that one.
Here were the individual medal winners other than Connor Koehr (SO) and Stella Paradise (JR) who I have already highlighted:
- Ariana Aldeguer (8) didn’t just take the Gold medal in 100 IM, she also took the bronze in 100 Back with a 1.58 second PR, 1:00.75. She was only .70 seconds behind the Gold medalist who was the eventual Swimmer of the Meet. And how about her 55.85 lead-off split in the 400 Free Relay? It was another .37 second PR?
- Clara Condon (SO) scored 25 individual points all by herself with a Silver medal in 100 Breaststroke and a Bronze medal in 100 Fly. Her 100 Fly heat was particularly fast, featuring the eventual Swimmer of the Meet and the eventual Gold medalist in the 500 Free.
- Lionel Martinez (8) had the opportunity to swim next to the 6’4” Swimmer of the Meet Joshua Fisher – twice! Lionel didn’t back down though. In the 200 IM, he took the Silver medal with a .27 second PR, 2:04.24. That is a superior time for an 8th Lionel also took the Bronze medal in 100 Backstroke. In the relays, Lionel was also very good. Anchoring out Silver medal Medley Relay, he split 22.59, a .22 second PR split, and anchoring our Bronze medal 400 Free Relay, he split 50.19! His previous best was 51.32.
- Mick Fioramonti (JR) shined in his first attempt at 11 Dives this season. His performance earned him the Silver medal and some valuable experience leading up to States.
- Maggie Gibbons (JR) took the Bronze medal in a fast heat of 50 Free, beating her previous best by .06 seconds. She also scored in 9th place for the 200 Free after a .13 second PR.
- Rose Waldron (SO) won the Silver medal in Diving while officially qualifying for the 11-Dive competition at States.
- Max Gonzalez (SO) is a first-year diver, but he still managed to take the Bronze medal in his first attempt ever competing at 11 Dives.
The 36 swimmers that we had in this meet swam 46 Personal Records. Adding that to our previous season total of 1,002, our Seton Swim Team has swum 1,048 new Personal Records so far this season! We have never had a number that high, and we still have two (2) meets remaining.
Here are the rest of the PRs from our team:
- Greg Bauer (FR) cut 3.29 seconds in 200 IM to score in 11th He also cut 1.01 seconds in 100 Breaststroke.
- Lucia Bingham (SO) had a strong scoring swim in the 200 IM, also placing 11th after a .95 second PR.
- Joseph Borneman (SO) dropped .66 seconds to take 11th in 200 Free.
- Michael Brox (SO) has made friends with the 500 Free, and he hung out with his new friend almost an entire second per 50 yards when he cut 9.80 seconds from his Personal Record.
- Joey Dealey (SR) dropped .55 seconds in 100 Breaststroke and .18 seconds in 50 Free leading off a relay.
- Haley Fifield (SO) looked very strong leading off our Bronze medal “B” Medley Relay with a 31.87 split. That was a .37 second Personal Record.
- Moira Haggerty (SR) hit a .27 second PR in one of her last 50 Free races of her career.
- David Hudson (JR) had a great swim in the 200 Free, beating his previous best by 1.62 seconds. He also beat his 100 Fly PR by .37 seconds.
- Mary Catherine Hurley (SO) put her whole soul and being into her 100 Backstroke, and she was rewarded with a 2.77 second PR during her final swim of the season.
- Philomena Kay (8) is another of the few 8th graders on the team that contributed to the scoring. Her 2.22 second PR in the 500 Free scored in 8th place!
- Kateri Mantooth (SR) swam like a champion with a .32 second PR in 100 Breaststroke.
- Luke Mantooth (JR) seems to cut time every time he hits the water. On Saturday, he dropped another 1.43 seconds in 100 Fly and another .32 seconds in 100 Breaststroke.
- William Sokban (SO) dropped .09 seconds in 100 Fly.
- Joe Wilson (SR) rocked his 50 Free with a 23.80. That’s a .49 second PR which is a very large number for a senior swimming such a short race.
How Does Little Seton School Consistently Host Meets of this Scale?
Even though we have been doing it for many years, it still amazes me that a small school like Seton can put on such a large-scale event. It happens because we can muster so many dedicated volunteer parents. While other schools can’t seem to come up with even one parent timer, we have our stalwart volunteers like Referee Charles Seltman, Starter Richard Borneman, Scorers Bill Dealey and Hank Konstanty, CTS Operator Melissa Sokban, Announcer John Kleb, Stroke and Turn Judges David Wilson and Claire Nguyen, Head Timer Chris Condon – and of course, the Producer of the Seton Sports Network, Paul Fifield. And we cannot forget the great on-deck coaching our kids got from DD Ross, Ross Palazzo, and John Halisky.
We also had some other volunteers that played really stepped up for Seton:
- Anne Judge did a great job in the stressful work of finding a place for 333 kids on and around the deck even though she had other family responsibilities on Saturday morning.
- Ellen Gibbons and Joe Hurley did a great job with the occasionally stressful job of preparing the medals. They were always right there with the medals, already labeled and ready to hand out.
- The Carmel School really stepped up this weekend to help us with hospitality. They came in force to handle this job, and as a result, we had a great hospitality set-up for the coaches and volunteers during the four-hour-long meet.
For the many other parent volunteers that I have not mentioned here, thank you for your support in making Seton Swimming, Seton Swimming.
And weren’t the students running the livestream for the Seton Sports Network just killing it on Saturday? Haley Fifield, Gabe Hambleton, Gabe Orellana, Joe Benin, Kyleigh Fifield and Moira Haggerty have set the bar for all other schools in the State! Wasn’t Kyleigh’s mobile camera work great!
Next Weekend’s VCAC Championship Meet
Next weekend is our annual Conference Championship meet. Since we lost the regular season Conference Championship for the first-time ever, this is a huge meet for us. Our girls will face-off against a very strong Trinity Christian team that showed us in early January what they can do. Does everyone still remember what happened? Are we going to fix that next Saturday?
And our Boys will need to repeat their performance from January 7th if we are to come out on top against the much-improved teams from Trinity Christian and Fredericksburg Christian.
In addition, anyone who finishes in the top 3 will be designated All-Conference. I hope to work on the entries on Monday, and my goal will be three-fold: 1) win, 2) get the maximum number of Seton Swimmers designated All-Conference, and 3) finalize our state team relays.
The Swimming portion of the Conference Championship will be hosted by Seton at the Fitch WARF. Our warm-up time is at 1:00 p.m., so you should be stretching on deck by 12:39 p.m. I’d plan on the meet running until at least 5:30 p.m. with all of the awards ceremonies.
Because there are no diving boards at the WARF, the Diving portion of the Conference Championship meet will be Friday night at the Freedom Center with Warm-up beginning at 4:30 p.m. and the competition beginning at 5:15 p.m. I’d love to see lots of swimmers out there to cheer on our Divers!
The State Championship Meet is Friday and Saturday, February 17-18th at Liberty University Natatorium in Lynchburg, VA.
I have posted the most up-to-date information on our State Championship Team including the current set of individual qualifiers and the top relay splits for this season.
The competition on both the Boy’s and Girl’s side for Relay spots has been keen, so I’ve been tracking it very closely. There was some movement on Saturday, so remember, that I am doing all by time. Specifically, I will use the fastest relay splits or flat start times swum this season.
And remember that everyone who has made all three (3) “A” Relays will be swimming all three (3) because that is our best chance to get points. The only exceptions as of now will be Ariana Aldeguer (8) and Clara Condon (SO).
We had some outstanding swims that resulted in a couple of changes to our draft State Relays:
- Boys 400 Free “A” Relay
- Drew Nguyen (SO) dropped his season-best split from 56.08 to 54.95 to jump into the 4th slot on this “A” Relay
- Connor Koehr (SO) also had an amazing swim, dropping his best split from 57.92 all the way down to 55:06 which jumped him up from the 8th fastest to the 5th fastest, just .10 seconds behind Drew for the last spot on the “A” Relay.
- Boys 200 Free “A” Relay
- JJ Brox (SR) improved his best split this season from 24.46 to 24.20, an improvement good enough to bump him up to the 4th spot on this “A” Relay. David Hudson (JR) is now just .06 seconds behind JJ though.
- Joe Wilson (SR) also had a great swim, dropping his split from 24.29 to 23.80. Joe was holding the 4th fastest 50 Free Relay split, but now his has the 2nd
There are two more chances to either qualify or move up to an “A” Relay:
- VCAC Champs
- We get one scoring relay and one exhibition relay so I may be able to put some of you who are on the bubble on a “B” Relay to try to qualify.
- As I said in our team meeting before the Meet on Saturday though, VCAC Champs is about winning so I can’t put you in a relay spot if it reduces our competitiveness in any way.
- Preliminaries of the State Championship Meet
- If we have a relay make the Finals, then to be fair, I will factor in the splits swum during Prelims.
- I will still use the best splits for the entire season though.
We also had three (3) new Individual State cuts:
- Joe Wilson (SR) – 50 Free
- Elodie Brox (SO) – 50 Free
- Connor Koehr (SO) – 100 Back
Once again, we have a Team House this year for team meals and as a hang-out between sessions. Mrs. Katie Condon is taking charge of the State Meet logistics for the team. Please look under Meet Information for a document called Everything You Need to Know About States.
There are several key actions for all members of the team that require you to hit a link Mrs. Condon has provided:
- Arrange for transportation and designate a responsible adult for your child. Preferably that adult does not have “Coach” in his or her name.
- Get a hotel room out of the Seton Swimming block
- Sign up to volunteer in some capacity.
I have new Seton Swimming and Diving rugby shirts for everyone who doesn’t already have one. That is our team uniform for the entire meet. If you want to be in the team picture (Thursday, 3:45 at the pool) or in the team area, then be in uniform. I get a little grumpy when I see people in our team area without a uniform, so please don’t make me go there.
Three (3) more good practices left before VCAC Champs – let’s make the most of them!
Coach Jim Koehr