I remember when I was a kid, long before cable TV, Hulu, and ESPN, there was a very popular show on Saturday’s called “ABCs Wide World of Sports.” I’ll never forget, in the opening of each episode, watching a Yugoslavian ski jumper named Vinko Bogataj fall off the end of a huge ski jump to the sounds of Jim McKay saying “The thrill of victory…..and the agony of defeat.” Here is the version of the show intro from 1978, when I was a freshman in high school.
Our Seton swim team got a chance to experience a little of both over the past two weeks, including Saturday night when we traveled out to the beautiful Fitch WARF in Warrenton, VA for the annual Delaney Athletic Conference Championship meet.
Congratulations to the DAC Championship Meet Champions:
- Boys – Seton School
- Girls – Trinity Christian School
And congratulations to our Swimmers of the Meet:
- Brooke Williams – Trinity Christian School
- Andrew Turbyfill – Fredericksburg Christian School
Once again, it was a very fast meet with five (5) new DAC Championship Meet Records:
- Boys 200 IM – Andrew Turbyfill (JR), Fredericksburg Christian School – 1:58.42
- Girls 50 Free – Brooke Williams (SR). Trinity Christian School – 24.20
- Girls 100 Fly – Madisyn Carter (8), Highland School – 58.49
- Girls 500 Free – Annalise Cornett (JR), Trinity Christian School – 5:04.20
- Girls 100 Breaststroke – Annika Luce (SO), Fredericksburg Academy – 1:07.02
Some of the records that were broken were previously set by some of the fastest kids in the history of the DAC. For instance, the Boys 200 IM record set by Andrew Turbyfill was previously held Seton great Nevin Cook who set the record as a sophomore back in 2006. Nevin went on to be the State record holder and All-America in that event as a senior with a 1:54.70.
The Girls 100 Breaststroke record was previously held by Highland School All-America Reni Moshos who won multiple individual State Championships during her high school career. The 100 Fly record was previously held by Seton All-America Anna Kenna. Can you believe that her record was broken by an 8th grader? Madisyn Carter is going to be fun to watch in the years to come.
And finally, the Trinity Christian superstar duo of Brooke Williams (SR) and Annalise Cornett (JR) lowered records they already held in the 50 Free and 500 Free. As you can see from those performances, either Brooke or Annalise could have justifiably been the Swimmer of the Meet.
Finishers in the top 3 in an individual event at DAC Champs are designated “All-Conference.” Congratulations to the following eight (8) Seton Swimmers who earned that honor (more details below):
- Jacob Alsup (SR)
- Drew Dalrymple (SR) – 2X
- Emily Flynn (SO)
- Shane Koehr (SR) – 2X
- Mary Pennefather (FR) – 2X
- Mary Clare Waldron (SO)
- Evan Wilson (JR)
- Joe Wilson (FR)
The meet was hosted by Highland School and Wakefield, and they certainly ran one of the best Conference Championship meets that I have been a part of – and I’ve been a part of DAC Swimming since 2001. Congratulations to Highland Coach Ross Malinow and Wakefield Swim-Dad Dean Burdette for doing such an outstanding job!
It turned out to be a great team effort with Seton for many aspects of the meet. With the great parent volunteers that we have at Seton, the Highland/Wakefield/Seton team was unbeatable in the meet-running department. I was so pleased to watch Bill Dealey, Hank Konstanty, Anne O’Malley, Jim Griffin, John Kleb, Therese Griffin, Charles Seltman, Mitch Albin, and David Wilson step up to help run most of the competitive aspects of the meet.
Here’s how the final scores looked on Saturday.
Trinity Christian School 208
Fredericksburg Academy 145
Fredericksburg Christian 145
Randolph-Macon Academy 145
Fresta Valley 15
Trinity Christian School 312
Fredericksburg Academy 207
Fresta Valley 74
Fredericksburg Christian 67
On the boy’s side, we are very deep. With that depth, we won the meet handily even though:
- We didn’t win a single in individual gold medal,
- Our 400 Free Relay was disqualified for an early take-off, costing us 20 points, and
- None of our upperclassmen are USA swimmers.
Our boys had numerous events where we had three (3) and even four (4) swimmers all score in the top 12. An example was the Boys 100 Backstroke where high-school-only swimmers Shane Koehr (SR), Evan Wilson (JR), Jeremy Kleb (SR) and Justin Fioramonti (SR) took 2nd, 3rd, 7th and 8th. There are a total of 93 points available in an individual event, and we earned 40% of them in that event. That’s impossible to beat, even if your team has a superstar USA swimmer or two.
On the girl’s side, the story turned out a bit different this week.
The Five-Year Rivalry Between the Seton and the Trinity Christian Girls
In the 2014 DAC Championship meet, our girls beat the 2nd place Fredericksburg Academy by a score of 436 to 194. I looked back through the scores as far back as 2003, when we beat the 2nd place Fredericksburg Christian team 386 to 194, and I didn’t see any scores substantially closer than that.
In fact, if you look back at the results from 2010, you’ll see that we had reached our peak in DAC competition for both the boys and girls:
- Our boys and girls won every single individual event, including 37 of the available 48 individual medals
- We won every relay except for one that was DQ’d (that girls medley had won by more than 20 seconds)
- Seton Swimmers Jameson Hill and Bridget Wunderly were voted by the coaches as Swimmers of the Meet
- We held every DAC Championship Meet short-course yards record except for Girls 50 Free, but because the meet was swum in a meter pool in 2010, the three (3) girls we had capable of breaking that record didn’t get the chance.
- There were 30 swimmers designated as All-Conference and 22 of them were from Seton!
Here’s a chart for Fred Cornett (Mrs. Cornett says you like the numbers) that compares Seton’s score at the DAC Championship meet since 2003 with the next best DAC team. There are two (2) striking things about these charts:
- You can see the streak of boy’s losses to Fredericksburg Christian from 2014 to 2016. That was right after I graduated from the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia, during which time I dropped the ball on in-school recruiting. Simultaneously, FCS had a crop of very fast USA swimmers that was more than we could handle at the time.
- You can see how dramatically the girl’s scores narrowed starting in 2016.
What happened in 2016? Answer: Trinity Christian School joined the DAC.
After doubling or nearly doubling the 2nd place team’s score for the previous seven (7) years, in 2016, our girls found themselves in their closest Conference Championship meet ever. Then, in 2017, the unthinkable happened – we lost. That’s when we first met a group of young female swimmers that would cause Seton trouble all the way up to the present day: Brooke Williams, Annalise Cornett, Becca Klanderman, Haley Silvernail, Laurel Schmidt, Morgan DiPippa, Eva Dahlberg, Kayla Shelkey, Jenna Phillips, Teresa Klanderman, Caroline Sykes, Anna Deatherage, Lucy Sicks and others.
The meet has been close ever since, particularly in 2018 when Seton won by only 0.5 points on nearly 600 total points scored. Last year, Seton prevailed again, but only by 16 points. But this year, The Trinity girls pulled away, winning 312 to 273.
How the Girl’s Conference Meet was Won
From the start of the week leading up to Saturday’s meet, I could see it was going to be tough for us – out top swimmer, Mairead Geiran, announced that she was transferring to Saint John Paul the Great that Monday. Despite that however, I remained confident we could pull it off. My confidence was validated when I scored the Psych Sheet and calculated a score within five (5) points of Trinity Christian.
Then the phone calls and e-mails started coming. Mary Pennefather has the flu. So does Caroline Griffin, Isabelle Luevano, Ceili Koehr, Theresa Dwane and others. Several of the boys were hit too.
I was beginning to lose some faith in my prediction on Saturday morning when I heard from Mrs. Luevano that neither Isabelle nor Nathan would even be able to attend the meet at all. Then I got this great message from The Chief (aka Mrs. Carroll): “Perseverance in the face of adversity is an important virtue. It is subset of both excellence and sacrifice. [i.e. two of our GEMS]”
We certainly had some swimmers demonstrate that perseverance:
- Mary Pennefather was getting sick in the locker room, yet she still took Bronze in the 50 Free and Silver in the 100 Free. In the 100 Free, Mary almost won it anyway. Mary is tough!
- Caroline Griffin was hacking up a lung before warm-up, yet she still came within .02 seconds of her 100 Fly PR.
- Shane Koehr was feeling weak at home before the meet, yet he still dropped .47 seconds in 100 Back to take the Silver medal. Shane also fought through to take Silver in the 200 Free – not an event I’d want to swim while feeling less than 100%.
Those three and several others showed a lot of heart, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
In retrospect, even if we were completely healthy, I don’t think it would have made the difference for us – the Trinity Christian girls were fantastic! I’ve always said that if you swim Personal Records, the winning takes care of itself.
Through the first few events, that seemed to be the Trinity Christian mantra. Bella Yaraschak, Caroline Sykes, Lucy Sicks, Teresa Klanderman, Anna Deatherage, and Amy Phillips all had personal bests in the first three individual events.
I was holding on to a thread of hope going into the 100 Fly. We were lined up to be very strong in that event – and our girls delivered. Emily Flynn took Bronze with a .42 second PR. Caroline Griffin took 4th swimming right on her PR in spite of her cough. Maggie Gibbons and Sophia Zadnik took 7th and 8th, both with PRs of 2.36 and 3.44 seconds, respectively.
The problem though was the 5th seed, Trinity Christian’s Teresa Klanderman (JR), down in lane 2. She was seeded at 1:11.43 but finished in 1:06.76, jumping up to the Silver medal.
Then, in the very next girl’s event, Jenna Phillips (JR) had the swim of her life, beating her previous best time by .77 second to take the Gold medal in the last 15 yards of the race.
The nail in our coffin was the Girls 200 Free Relay which uncharacteristically featured Brooke Williams and Annalise Cornett. It was just more than we could handle.
Seton’s strength has always been our depth. We have a simple and repeatable formula that has resulted in the sustained excellence for our program:
- Recruit as many kids from the school as you possibly can to join the swim team. Kids like to be with their friends.
- Focus on our core values of Gratitude, Excellence, Meekness and Sacrifice (i.e. our GEMS). Kids like to be virtuous, even if they don’t always realize it.
- Spend the majority of our practice time focused on stroke technique to get the most possible improvement in the shortest amount of time. Kids like it when they are getting better.
- Let kids get excited about that level of improvement by recognizing that improvement so that they want more. Kids like it when they are winning.
- Introduce the kids who want more to the wide variety of top USA coaches in our area including Jeremy Linn and Mark Faherty from NCAP or Reid Owen from OCCS.
That formula has provided unmatched depth for Seton, which is at huge advantage in any dual meet as a result. That’s why we’ve had so much regular season success over the past two decades. But in a championship meet format, the advantage shifts towards the team with swimmers who can finish near the top to claim the big points that come with those top finishes. The faster the meet, the more your top swimmers matter.
I am very excited about the group of swimmers we have that are sophomores and below, particularly the large crop of swimmers that are currently in middle school. They are excited to be on the team and they are getting faster, in many cases dramatically so. In a few years, unless another DAC team either copies the success formula I freely offer or inherits a group of USA swimmers, I predict that we will be unbeatable at the Conference level and beyond once again.
Trinity Christian has done us a huge favor by beating us. In a concept that I refer to as “meekness”, they have competed in such a virtuous way that they have made us better. We’re looking forward to returning the favor next year 😉
In the meantime, we’ll all be cheering for the Trinity Christian girls at States!
Medal Winners and All-Conference Swimmers for Seton
One unique form of recognition available to our swimmers at this meet was the possibility of being designated “All-Conference”. All-Conference recognition goes to any swimmer that gets a gold, silver or bronze medal in an individual event.
One thing that you will notice is that Seton did not win a single individual Gold medal in the entire meet, yet our girls took 2nd place and our Boys won handily. That’s what happens when so many different swimmers can score, even our younger swimmers. It is very cool to have two (2) Sophomores and two (2) Freshman on this list!
Here are Seton’s All-Conference Swimmers for 2019-2020:
- Shane Koehr (SR) had a great swim in 100 Backstroke, cutting .47 seconds from his PR to go 1:00.60, earning him both the Silver medal and All-Conference honors. I had a feeling he was going to have a good day in backstroke, in spite of being sick, after he came within .11 seconds of his PR in 50 Back leading off our Gold medal medley relay. Preceding that swim in 100 Back, Shane had an equally impressive swim in 200 Free where, despite his sickness, he also won the Silver medal. Shane also led off our Gold medal 200 Free Relay. Congratulations Shane!
- Jacob Alsup (SR) had his hands full in the 100 Fly against fellow Seton swimmers Joe Wilson (FR) and Jerry Dalrymple (JR), but after dropping 2.95 seconds from his PR, Jacob managed to pull away from his very fast teammates. That great swim earned Jacob the Silver medal and All-Conference honors. Jacob also had great swims in the 100 Breaststroke, dropping 3.57 seconds to take 5th place. In the relays, Jacob was equally tremendous. He popped a great 50 Breaststroke split of 30.92 (1.07 seconds faster than his previous best) to help our 200 Medley Relay earn the Silver medal, and he popped a great 50 split of 23.53 (.50 seconds faster than his previous best) to help our 200 Free Relay earn the Gold medal. Jacob’s 50 split was the 2nd fastest split swum on the team this season!
- Drew Dalrymple (SR) was in top form for the sprints on Saturday, earning a Silver and Bronze medal in the 50 and 100 Free, respectively. His .37 second PR in the 50 Free (23.51) and his .62 second PR in 100 Free (53.51) both resulted in the fastest flat start times on the team this season. Drew also rocked the anchor legs of two Gold medal relays, the 200 Medley Relay and 200 Free Relay, splitting 23.50 and then 23.05, respectively. I can’t wait to watch Drew break :23.00 at States!
- Emily Flynn (SO) has really come into her own in Butterfly this season. Here .42 second PR was good enough for her to earn the Bronze medal and the accompanying All-Conference honors. She also helped our 200 Medley Relay take the Bronze medal with a .64 second PR butterfly split, and she helped our 200 Free Relay take the Silver medal with her very fast 26.70 split. Emily is going into the States with the 2nd fastest 50 Free split on the team.
- Mary Pennefather (FR) showed the heart of champion even though she was still recovering from the flu. She didn’t hit her PRs as a result, but she did swim fast enough to take the Silver medal in 100 Free and the Bronze medal in 50 Free. Mary also anchored our Silver medal 200 Free Relay and our Bronze medal 200 Medley Relay. After the 100 Free, I heard that Mary was in the bathroom getting sick. I asked Coach Dalrymple to go check it out and let me know if I need to get a replacement for our relay. After I started trying to figure out who could replace her (short answer: nobody), Coach Dalrymple came back and said, “she says she’ll swim.” I wasn’t surprised.
- Joe Wilson (FR) was in a hotly contested 200 IM against his brother, Junior Evan Wilson. The race was super tight with Joe gaining the advantage after 50 Fly and then gradually losing the advantage through the Backstroke and Breaststroke legs. But Joe had the determination of a little brother who saw his chance, and with a 6.29 second PR, Joe took the Bronze medal and All-Conference honors in the event. Joe also took 4th place in 100 Fly while pushing Jacob Alsup (SR) to his best swim of the season.
- Evan Wilson (JR) has cemented himself as our top backstroker going into next season. His near perfect stroke technique, including a near perfectly “quiet head”, resulted in a 1.57 second PR and the Bronze medal.
- Mary Clare Waldron (SO) had to be about the happiest swimmer I saw all night after she dropped 1.79 seconds in 100 Breaststroke to jump up to the Bronze medal and All-Conference honors. Clare also swam the Breaststroke leg of our medley relay .55 seconds than she ever has before.
Shaking Up the State Championship Team
There were a number of consequential swims that changed the composition and line-up for the team we are bringing down to Christiansburg this weekend. Here are some of them:
- Katie Albin (SR) had a great swim in 100 Free. Her time was 2.45 seconds faster than her lifetime PR and 4.60 seconds faster than he best time this season. That time was fast enough to jump her up on my list of fastest 100 Freestyle splits from 10th to 8th – and that put her on the “B” 400 Free Relay at States! Katie also cut 2.13 seconds from her 100 Backstroke PR.
- Maggie Gibbons (8) had a massive drop in 50 Free, lowering her PR by 1.12 seconds. That drop jumped her from 10th to 8th on my list of fastest 50 Freestyle splits this season and earned her a spot on our “B” 200 Free Relay at States! In the very next event (bad planning Coach), Maggie went on to have another big PR, dropping 2.36 seconds in 100 Fly.
- Jacob Alsup (SR) really shook things up for the boys relays. Jacob was sick last week, so he missed swimming on our “A” 200 Free Relay at the VISAA Division II Invitational. Unfortunately, his replacement swam so well, he knocked Jacob off the “A” relay completely. Well Jacob more than earned his way back on Saturday with a blazing 23.53 split that put him just behind Drew Dalrymple and just ahead of Shane Koehr on top of our list of fastest 50 Freestyle splits this season. It would have put him on the top of the list, but as you may have read above, Drew split an amazing 23.05 to stay on top.
- Kathleen O’Malley (SR) took full advantage of her opportunity on the 400 Free Relay by splitting 2.05 seconds faster in 100 Free than she ever had before. That bumped Kathleen up to 5th, only .24 seconds away from earning a spot on our “A” 400 Free Relay. In addition, her flat start 100 Free and 50 Free were PRs, by .98 seconds and .40 seconds respectively.
Other Great Swims for Seton
Out of 64 total scoring flat start swims, including “A” Relay lead-offs, Seton had 31 new Personal Records on Saturday. I’ve spoken of many of those PRs already, but here were the rest, plus some other great swims, that I have not already mentioned:
- JJ Brox (FR) definitely caught my attention on Saturday with his swimming, particularly his breaststroke. He’s figured out how to get the most out of each kick by getting into the “Nevin position” and reaching for the wall with each stroke. It’s a beautiful thing to see. It’s also beautiful to see the resulting 2.37 second PR in 100 Breaststroke and 2.32 second PR in 200 IM.
- Mary O’Malley (SO) had a very impressive swim in the 500 Free, lowering her PR by another 5.55 seconds. We talked about how she had to avoid any splits above :44.00, and I was very pleased to see her maintain her pace much better this week during the heart of the race. Mary also cut .52 seconds from her 50 Back PR leading off a relay.
- Sophia Zadnik (SO) so impressed me with her swim in 100 Fly on Saturday. After watching her in practice, her 3.44 second PR didn’t surprise me. I knew she could do it.
- Ava Hudson (8) is going to be a good one for Seton. How about her 5.09 second PR in 200 IM and her .90 second PR in 100 Back?
- David Hudson (8) is also going to be a good one. I really enjoyed his 4.73 second PR in 500 Free and his .42 second PR in 200 IM.
- Joey Arnold (SR) finished his career at Seton with a tremendous 4.02 second PR in 200 Free to score in 4th place, missing All-Conference honors by only 1.35 seconds. Joey also held on to his spot on the “B” 200 Free Relay at States with a .26 second PR split in his leg of a Relay.
- Teresa Bingham (SO) was all smiles with her two (2) PRs on Saturday. In the 200 IM, she cut .78 seconds, and in the 100 Free, she cut .22 seconds.
- Catriona Linton (SO) had a great swim in the 200 Free, taking it out fast and holding on for a 12th place scoring finish after a 1.83 second PR.
- Justin Fioramonti (SR) made the most of the final swim of his high school career with a 1.26 second PR in 100 Back.
- Anne Konstanty (SR) had a great final swim in the 200 Free before States with a .51 second PR that scored in 5th The 200 Free event was loaded with several top DAC swimmers in addition to Anne.
- Christian Ceol (SR) lowered his 100 Free PR once again, this time by .18 seconds to 55.50.
- Jeremy Kleb (SR) was wonderful in his final 100 Freestyle swim. It was great to see him end his career with another PR in the event.
- Caroline Griffin (SR) somehow managed to overcome her sickness to cut .01 seconds from her 50 Free PR leading off a relay. You showed great heart on Saturday Caroline. Caroline also overcame illness to score in 4th for 100 Fly and 5th for 100 Back.
- Ceili Koehr (SO) swam her best 100 Backstroke time of the season, by .31 seconds, despite feeling sick. Way to push though Ceili!
- Lily Byers (SO) swam very well in the 200 IM, scoring in 9th place with a time that was very close to her lifetime PR.
- Jerry Dalrymple (JR) scored big for Seton with his 5th place finish in 100 Fly and his 8th place finish in 50 Free.
- Theresa Dwane (SR) was another swimmer who wasn’t feeling well on Saturday, so I was very pleased with her effort in 50 Free and 100 Breaststroke. There is no quit in Theresa Dwane!
- Peter Konstanty (8) managed to scored in 7th place for the 500 Free, one of only a very few 8th grade boys to score in this meet.
- John McGrath (JR) showed incredible heart on Saturday. He probably could have justified staying home in bed, but he came and fought though it for the good of the team. Unfortunately for John, I had entered him in the 200 and 500 Free and was unable to change it after the Psych Sheet came out. He could have complained or quit, but he didn’t. I’m proud of you John!
Some Final Notes on States
I have posted a document called “Everything You Need to Know About States” in the hopes that it literally tells you that. I’m continually updating it as plans firm up. A lot of what you need to know is in the Meet Announcement also.
Once again, we have a Team House this year for team meals and as a hang-out between sessions. I’ve enlisted the help of Mrs. Luevano and Mrs. Griffin to take charge of the team meals. By now, you should have your lodging set up, and I should know about it.
A few other things I’d like to highlight that will be in the document:
- Our team uniform at States is an embroidered Rugby shirt. If you got one last year, don’t forget to bring it. If you are new to the State team this year, you can thank Mrs. Katie Lynch for making the arrangements to get one for you.
- Mr. Pennefather is allowing the State Team to wear them to school on Wednesday – over your uniforms.
- If you don’t already have one, you can pick yours up on Wednesday morning from Mrs. Lynch in the lobby of Seton.
- Thursday morning practice is breakfast at IHOP in Manassas Mall. Practice starts at 7:30 a.m.
- We will leave for the Virginia March for Life directly from breakfast
- If you are not going to the March, I will see you on deck at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center at 4:39 p.m. for warm-up.
- The admission fees set by VISAA are pretty stout: $10/person/day with a $30/day family maximum. I fought it all the way to the top of VISAA, but I lost.
- Any team member in a team uniform will be admitted for free, so wear your Seton Swimming Rugby shirt!
One Final Thought
I was standing on deck with Mr. Vander Woude contemplating all that was happening around us when a man, who turned out to be from Fredericksburg Christian, walked up to me and asked if he could talk to me. My first thought was “Uh-oh,” but he quickly relieved my fears.
“I just wanted to tell you how great the kids on your team are. I’ve been timing at the meets you host for several years, and I’m always amazed by how your kids always thank me. Seton is a real class operation.”
The first value in our GEMS is Gratitude. I was so proud to see you all living that value in your daily lives.
“Who’s got it better than us? Nobody!”
Now let’s go have some fun racing at States!
Coach Jim Koehr