It was a busy weekend for Seton Swimming.  One of the two meets where we had swimmers representing Seton was the National Catholic High School Championship at Villanova University outside of Philadelphia.  I was so pleased to be able to make it up to the Sunday finals.  I missed the prelims for our JV meet in Norfolk.  It was a tremendously fast meet, but Nevin Cook was able to successfully defend his national title with a record-setting swim in the 100 Breaststroke.  We also had 4 other top-8 finishes from Nevin, Jessica Dunn and our Girls medley relay of Jessica Dunn, Mary-Kate Kenna, Lea Mazzoccoli and Alex Doonis.

Our girls team finished 10th over all and our boys finished 13th overall.  Congratulations to the following swimmers who represented us at this prestigious meet:

–          Carolyn Claybrooks

–          Connor Cook

–          Nevin Cook

–          Alex Doonis

–          Jessica Dunn

–          Mary-Kate Kenna

–          Daniel Koehr

–          Sean Koehr

–          Lea Mazzoccoli

–          Kimberley Melnyk

–          Meghan Morch

–          Catherine Nuar

–          Laura Talbott

–          Bridget Wunderly

Championship Finalists

–          Nevin Cook took his third National Catholic title this weekend with a new Seton record :58.53 in 100 Breaststroke winning a very close race over a swimmer from DeMatha in Washington D.C.  Nevin entered the meet seeded first, finished Saturday’s prelims with the top seed, and then took the gold medal on Sunday.  The best part of his race was his greatly improved underwater pullouts.  They proved to be the difference for him.  Nevin also took 4th in the 200 IM.  This performance, already impressive, is more impressive when you understand where Nevin is his training cycle.

Top level swimmers train in a cycle that targets specific meets.  During the season, they train extremely hard by swimming long training sets to “break” themselves down.  During this period, their muscles are almost always tired, even when they are not swimming.  Then, as their target meet approaches, they “taper” their training to rest their muscles.  This phase of the training involves shorter, sprint-oriented workouts.  It is kind of like a rubber band.  You stretch it very hard to get the most out of it so that when you release it, you get the maximum result.  This training cycle has such an impact on performance that, when I speak with college coaches about a swimmer, they always ask if the times are “mid-season” times or “shaved and tapered” times.  Nevin is currently in the hardest part of his training cycle in preparation for Junior Nationals in Orlando, FL in March.  So the fact that he went close to his PR in 100 Breast at this point in the season is almost as exciting as the gold medal.

–          Jessica Dunn also had a great performance this weekend, we three top 8 finishes and a new Seton record.  Jessica got 6th in 100 Backstroke and 7th in the 200 IM.  She is in the same portion of the training cycle as Nevin so she was not swimming her top times.  If this had been a focus meet for Jessica, her top times would have been good for 3rd in the 200 IM and 2nd in the 100 Back.  In spite of the fact that she’s “broken down” right now, she managed to break Katie Shipko’s 8-year old Seton record in the 200 IM by nearly 2 seconds with a 2:14.98.  Jessica also was part of our 8th place girls medley relay.

–          Our girls 200 Medley Relay of Jessica Dunn (back), Mary-Kate Kenna (Breast), Lea Mazzoccoli (Fly), and Alex Doonis (Free) overachieved to claim a top-8 finish.  All 4 of these girls swam excellent splits, but Alex Doonis’ splits were particularly good.  In the finals, she split a 25.79 for her 50 Free leg.  In the 200 Free relay, her anchor leg was even faster at 25.62.  Coach Mulhern was really pushing Alex to breath less often in the race, and especially not out of the turn.  Alex only took 3 breaths during the entire 50, and it seems to have paid off.  It was tough for all of us to compete at a meet like this without Katie Planchak at the back-end of our relay, but 7th grader Alex really stepped up for us.

Other Great Performances

–          I don’t know what Mary-Kate Kenna was taking, but she should keep taking it!  She cut over 3 seconds from her previous best 200 IM time to take 22nd place with an excellent time of 2:26.19.  More than two seconds of that improvement came from her Fly and Back legs, two strokes that she formerly considered among her worst.  I know she doesn’t consider Fly as a bad stroke for her anymore – she cut 1.33 seconds from her previous best Fly time to swim a very fast 1:06.72.  Mary-Kate and Lea will getting a lot of one-two finishes next season for us in 100 Fly!

–          Carolyn Claybrooks made the most of her first trip a big meet like this.  She cut .24 seconds from her 50 Free and 1.13 seconds from her 100 Free!

–          Daniel Koehr did a great job for us in the relays, particularly leading off the medley.  His split of 29.71 for 50 back was the fastest he’s ever gone by nearly a second and a half.  Together with Nevin, Connor Cook and Billy Corkery, our medley relay pulled out a 16th place finish in the consolation finals on Sunday.  Connor had a great fly split of 28.94 and Billy anchored with his 2nd fastest split ever, 26.16.

–          Our girls 200 Free relay of Jessica Dunn, Lea Mazzoccoli, Meghan Morch and Alex Doonis finished prelims on Saturday seeded 11th and moved up to 10th in the Finals on Sunday.  Meghan Morch had a particularly strong performance in the finals.  I’ve never seen her split below 27.30 in the 50 Free, but on Sunday, she split an amazing 26.68!  Whatever you had for dinner Meghan, try to eat it at States too!

–          Kimberley Melnyk cut some more time off of her 50 Free.  I’m so pleased to see her do well – she works so hard, that she really deserves it.

–          Our boys 400 Free relay of Connor Cook, Daniel Koehr, Billy Corkery, and Nevin Cook got a top-16 finish.  Connor’s lead off split of :54.41 was excellent.  I was also pleased with Daniel Koehr’s work filing in for Sean Koehr.  Sean swam in prelims, but the partially separate shoulder was just hurting to much for him to swim in the finals.  Even though this race was immediately after 100 Breaststroke, Nevin still managed to split a :52 on the anchor leg.

I want to give a special thank you to Coach Pat Mulhern for his outstanding work as head coach for this meet.  He even blew the crowd away with his rendition of the National Anthem before Sunday finals.  He took his weekend to coach our team, even though he doesn’t have one of his own kids on the team.  His knowledge of swimming and the unselfish way he gives is time is a real blessing to all of us that know him.  Great job Coach!  And thanks!

I’d also like to let you all know that Katie Planchak is back and school are starting to try to swim again.  We’re still not sure if she’ll be swimming with at States, but we all missed her at National Catholics.  Looking at the final results, her best times would have been top-3 in both the 50 and 100 Free – and who knows what the addition of our top sprinter would have done for our relays.  We are all praying for a complete recovery for Katie, and we hope she will be able to participate, or least join us to cheer, at States.

Coach Koehr

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