On Saturday, Seton Swimming was honored to be invited to join the several top VISAA Division I teams in Richmond for our opening meet of the season. We traveled down to the beautiful campus of St. Catherine’s School in Richmond and to join St. Catherine’s, St. Christopher’s, Woodberry Forest, Bishop Ireton and The Covenant School.
As you might expect from my description of the competition, the scores were not particularly favorable to us (both our boys and girls did beat Covenant though), but they were extremely gracious to us. One coach that was particularly gracious was the new Bishop Ireton Assistant Coach Mary Kate Kenna!
This is the second year that we took the unusual step of renting buses to make the trip a season opening teambuilding affair, but thanks to a generous benefactor, we were able to do it again. I trust everyone had a great time on the road trip – and I know that we got our money’s worth at CiCi’s pizza afterwards also!
’13-’14 Seton Swimming Leadership
We announced our captains for the season at Time Trials, but Coach Lowell highlighted to me a great example of servant leadership that I felt compelled to recognize. It is not the only example of this that I’ve seen from our upperclassman, but it was especially noteworthy to me for its humility.
On Saturday, I gave Sarah Heim a co-captain shirt. At practice, Sarah noticed that some of the younger kids really needed some leadership for Coach Ceol’s new dry land routine and, without being asked, she just jumped right in and took charge – and she did it with a smile that I’m sure is taking the edge off of the difficult exercises that the younger swimmers now have to do. She never asked for any recognition, and I suspect that she never expected it either, but that is how servant leaders behave, so I am happy to recognize it.
Anna Kenna’s Breakout Meet
“Anna Kenna can swim on my team any time!” That was a text message I received from Coach Mike Stott of the Collegiate School who came across town to watch our meet. Coach Stott is also a writer for SwimmingWorld magazine so he knows what he is talking about. There is no doubt that Anna Kenna, only an 8th grader, had the breakout meet of her life on Saturday.
Over the past two weeks, we have been working on Anna’s backstroke, and it has improved greatly. One area of her race that I’ve always seen as one of her biggest strengths was her ability off the walls underwater, so I enlisted the help of Coach Rick Benner of QDD to take a look. Anna scooped up his coaching advice and used it to perfection on Saturday.
Leading off the medley relay, she hit her start well, did three huge butterfly kicks down, 5 fast kicks up, and broke out more than half a body length ahead of St. Catherine’s top backstroker. It was an amazing thing to see. With another great underwater (or “kick-out” as Coach Benner calls them) off of her turn, she easily touched first and cut an incredible 1.92 seconds off her 50 Back PR with a split of 28.76. To put that in perspective, the team record for girls 50 Backstroke is 28.37, set in 2012 by Coach Alex Doonis while swimming on a relay that broke the previous State Championship Meet medley relay record and ultimately got the silver medal – behind St. Catherine’s. Remember, Anna is in 8th grade!
In 100 Back, Anna repeated her outstanding performance underwater and took our only 1st place overall finish of the meet with a 1:03.47. That time was 5.29 seconds faster than her previous PR and qualified for States by almost 6 seconds. Based on last year’s State results, I’d expect that Anna would Final with that time. Our team record for girls 100 Back was set in 2008 by Jessica Dunn at 1:00.04.
But believe it or not, Anna was not done. I’ve always thought that Anna’s best stroke could be butterfly, and she started to prove me right with a 1:05.81, a PR by 4.30 seconds and good enough for a 3rd place overall finish. That time was also a State Championship qualifier, this time by nearly 4 seconds. Starting late next week, we’ll really be concentrating on Fly in practice, so I’m thinking that Bridget Wunderly’s 2011 record of 59.82 could be in jeopardy also.
And finally, Anna jumped up to the second fastest 50 Free time on the team (behind only her sister, our top sprinter, Claire Kenna) with a .53 second PR going 26.64.
Other Top Performances
There were so many great swims, that it is difficult to single out just a few, but here’s an attempt to highlight some of the most outstanding performances that I saw:
- Kimberly Rector had two 2nd place overall finishes on Saturday, scoring the 2nd most individual points of any swimmer on our team. And she did it with a 2.53 second PR in 200 IM and a 1.23 second PR in 500 Free. For swimmers at Kimberly’s level, it is unusual to hit multiple PRs this early in the season because we are comparing her times to her best State Championship meet swims at the end of last season when she was at her maximum point of conditioning. So seeing Kimberly hit PRs now is a great harbinger of things to come later this season.
- Alex Ceol showed me a butterfly that I’ve never seen from him before. I’ve also never seen that kind of time since he dropped an amazing 13.93 seconds in 100 Fly! He’s clearly been listening in practice because his stroke flowed more easily than ever from his chest – exactly like we’ve been teaching for Breaststroke and Butterfly. At the end of next week, we’ll be focusing exclusively on butterfly where we will get his hands “light” out front, and I then I think we’ll have one of our team’s top butterfliers.
- Dani Flook very quietly had four (4) significant PRs on Saturday and placed against top State competition in both of her individual events. She cut 10.09 seconds in the 200 IM showing that she is fast becoming one of our better 4-stroke swimmers and she cut 3.48 seconds in 100 back with much better shoulder rotation. Dani also lowered her 50 Back PR by 1.87 seconds and her 100 Free PR by .67 seconds while leading off relays. I’m quite pleased to note that Dani is only a freshman!
- Claire Kenna showed why she is our team’s top sprinter. Swimming in the most competitive events against some of the top swimmers in the State, Claire took 3rd place overall in 100 Free and 4th place overall in 50 Free.
- Bridget O’Malley, only an 8th grader, had two really fine swims. In 100 Free, she scored well for us with a 7th place overall finish after her 1.72 second PR swim. In 100 Back, she really looked good to me and her time, a 4.68 second PR, confirmed it.
An Incredible 63 Personal Records with only 52 Swimmers
For a variety of reasons, including the SAT (bad planning on my part 🙁 ), we were missing 16 of our swimmers, but the 52 that hit the water certainly exceeded my expectations. It is seldom that see this many personal records per swimmer in a meet, especially this early in the season. Generally, you’d expect more PRs after more time conditioning, but that was not the case on Saturday.
It is just another confirmation of our team philosophy that “the fastest way to get faster is to do the strokes correctly”. We’ve finished re-teaching freestyle and backstroke at practice, so most of the team swam events using those two strokes – which explains why nearly everyone swam a PR! Many of the older kids on our team who didn’t hit PRs were very close – so just wait until you get back into shape!
Below is an enumeration of the rest of the great performances that made up this total:
- Madeline Snider, a sophomore in her first year on the team, is already showing signs of potential greatness. Her strong strokes are getting more refined and her times are starting to drop as a result. How about that 3.43 second PR in 100 Free and that 3.18 second PR in 100 Back?
- Kalli Dalrymple had a PR every time she hit the water. In 100 Back, she dropped an incredible 10.39 seconds and in 50 Back leading off a medley relay, she cut 1.17 seconds. Those are huge drops. Kalli also cut .92 seconds from her 100 Free PR.
- Tim Costello certainly had a great meet with a big 2.76 second PR in 100 Free and a nearly unbelievable 1.96 second PR in 50 Free leading off a relay. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Tim look better in the water. In fact, even though he is my nephew, I had to look at the meet program to tell it was him in the water. Glad to see that he is listening in practice!
- Andrew Quinan has developed quite a nice freestyle and it showed at the extremes of racing distances. In the 500 Free, he lowered his PR by 32.05 seconds and took 10th place overall. And in the 50 Free, he lowered his PR by 1.29 seconds to go 27.46.
- Martin Quinan is one of those guys who really listens in practice, and the results are showing. In 50 Back leading off the medley relay, he cut an amazing 5.11 seconds from his previous best, and in 100 Back, he cut 1.94 seconds. Those are pretty big drops that both result from better stroke technique.
- Ben Dealey was super in his two events, cutting an amazing 13.45 seconds from his 100 Back PR and 3.14 seconds from his 100 Free PR.
- David Catabui dropped 5.48 seconds in his 100 Free. That’s an awful lot David!
- Ben Ceol had some very nice swims, including his .96 second PR in 100 Free. I can see Ben’s strokes getting better because I can see his desire in practice to learn.
- Jillian Ceol is approaching that state cut in 100 Breast with a .68 second PR. We’ll be working more on Breaststroke probably into Tuesday, so I see some more opportunities for her to get even faster.
- Joe Fioramonti, a 7th grader, looks like he can be one of the good ones for Seton down the road. He cut 4.58 seconds from his 50 Back PR leading off a relay! He also cut 1.71 seconds from his 100 Back PR. Keep listening in practice Joe – you are doing a great job!
- Bryanna Farmer lowered her 100 Back PR by .58 seconds. She also never looked better in 100 Fly. A little more conditioning at practice, and I expect to see some serious PRs in that also.
- Allison Given had a couple really big PRs. In 100 Free, she lowered her PR by 6.91 seconds and in 100 Back, she lowered her PR by 4.55 seconds. Now that was quite a successful day!
- Patrick Hall is also showing tremendous improvement. He cut 4.71 seconds from both his 100 Back and 100 Free PRs and 1.60 seconds from his 50 Free PR leading off a relay.
- Rosie Hall somehow managed to cut 9.69 seconds from her 100 Back PR – that’s huge! She also cut 3.59 seconds from her 100 Free PR.
- Matt Fioramonti is approaching that 1:00 minute barrier in 100 Free with another .98 second PR. I think it is going to happen this year Matt.
- Cat Pechie, you rock! I loved your 2.07 second PR swim in 100 Free.
- Paul Pechie’s great stroke technique paid in the 200 IM with a 10.03 second PR. Just wait until he gets in better shape! Paul also cut .67 seconds from his 50 Back PR leading off a medley relay.
- Dominic Wittlinger had a 3 PR performance on Saturday cutting 1.58 seconds in 100 Free, 1.39 seconds in 100 Back and .72 seconds in 100 Free leading off a relay.
- Ashley Cackett hit a PR in 100 Back by .19 seconds, even after a visit to the bottom of the pool on her start 😉 An 8th grader, I’m expecting great things from her in the future.
- Emily Heim lowered her 200 Free PR by 1.48 seconds and place 5th overall against some very good competition.
- Mary Heim, a 7th grader, is really doing well in her first year on the team. Her 100 Free PR dropped by 2.08 seconds and her 100 Back PR dropped by 1.55 seconds. Looking at her times, I can see already that is capable of becoming one of our really good swimmers in the future.
- Tom Irving, just back from Disney World, made the most of his opportunities in Richmond by swimming a 10.69 second PR in 100 Back. We also celebrated Tom’s birthday at CiCi’s with a custom made cake 😉
- Sean Kellogg had a great day with PRs in both of his individual events. His 100 Free PR is now 4.37 seconds lower and his 100 Back PR is now 3.03 seconds lower. Keep it up Sean – and say “hi” to your sister Rachel for me. She was one of my favorite Pre-Calc students.
- Seamus Koehr brought his big smile with him on Saturday and brought home a .43 second PR in his 100 Free.
- Collette Kosten was awesome in 100 Back, beating her previous best time by 13.42 seconds!
- Emily Lowell proved that she could sprint when she lowered her 50 Free PR by .66 seconds.
- Mark O’Donohue looked “long and strong” as former Seton coach Pat Mulhern used to say. This was particularly true in his 50 Free where he cut .68 seconds from his PR
- Peter O’Donohue is getting the hang of 100 Back and proved it with a 3.95 second PR
- Meridyth Rosato had a really fine swim in the 100 Free with a 4.11 second PR. She also had a big 1.73 second PR in 100 Back.
- Julia Rowzie cut a huge 3.81 seconds from her 100 Back. That’s big!
- Brendan Santschi had a great swim in 100 Free, lowering his previous best by 3.41 seconds
Other Great Performances
We had a number of other swimmers who, either because they were unable to swim at time trials or because they swam events where they had no previous time, had great swims that were not reflected on in the Personal Records that I’ve highlighted:
- Leslie Chang, a junior, is new to the team and new to the sport of swimming. She has been swimming with Coach Adam Irving and Coach Mikey Wittlinger, and it was fun to watch their pride is Leslie’s performance on Saturday. At Time Trials, Leslie was unable to finish the 100 yard events, but on Saturday, with determination on her face, Leslie finished both 100 Free and 100 Back. The whole team, and literally the whole pool, was cheering for her because they could see how hard she was trying and how much she wanted to make it. Pechie even heard from a St. Catherine’s parent how great it was that our team was cheering for Leslie. What a great example Leslie was for all of us on Saturday!
- Edith Barvick is a 7th grader who I can see already can be a very good swimmer for Seton in the years to come. Her first official attempts at 100 Free and 100 Back were outstanding, and I’m quite sure they would have been big PRs had we had a time against which to compare them. Keep it up Edith!
- Patrick Dealey is part of a group of sophomore boys that is already a key part of our Varsity team. Patrick ventured into the 200 and 500 Free for the first time with really solid times to show for it. Kids who courageously swim those events will be scoring a lot of points for us because so many other kids shy away from competing there. Great job Patrick!
- Therese Pechie is really showing me something in the water, and I have seen that something get better over this first part of the season. Had she been able to swim in time trials, I’m quite sure she would have swum multiple PRs on Saturday. Only a 7th grader, he times are already competitive, so next year, I’d expect her to start scoring a lot of points for us.
It is never too early to start thinking about States and National Catholics!
Unlike most of our other meets, during the Championship season, we have two big swim meets that require participants to achieve a qualifying time during this season in a non-time trial meet (that’s a change from the past). The National Catholic High School Championship is most likely moving back to Villanova University at the end of January and the State Championship is moving back to the Freedom Center the 3rd weekend in February.
After this weekend, here are the swimmers who have qualified individually so far:
(assuming the cuts have not changed)
· 200 IM
· 50 Free
· 100 Free
· 100 Fly
· 100 Back
· 100 Breast
200 Medley “A”
· 200 IM
· 500 Free
· 50 Free
· 100 Free
· 100 Fly
· 100 Back
· 50 Free
· 100 Breast
200 Medley “A”
200 Free Relay “A”
For relays at States, we are I am able to enter an “A” scoring relay and a qualifying “B” exhibition relay. Swimmers are qualified to swim on a relay if they have either qualified in an individual event or swum on the relay when it hit the qualifying time.
At the time that I submit our relay entries, I will enter the fastest two qualifying relays that I can, so that means that relay line-ups are subject to change up to the last moment depending on who is the fastest at that time. For now, I won’t even attempt to project who is traveling with us for relays yet – I will say that there are a lot of opportunities for swimmers on our team!
Siblings and Rivalry
My son Sean, who is now studying for the priesthood at Mount St. Mary’s, was a top athlete at Seton. He was All-State in both lacrosse and swimming, he lead both of these Seton teams to State Championships, he had I don’t even know how many varsity letters and was captain of nearly every team he was on. In short, Sean was no one that needed to apologize to anyone for his performances on the field and in the pool.
One day in a moment of frustration, Sean looked at me and said, “I’m terrible at swimming!” Of course I disagreed vehemently, but I knew exactly where he was coming from. Sean was only two years behind his brother Kevin, and Kevin was scooping up quite a few accolades during that time. Sean was also in the same class as Nevin Cook.
I recall telling Sean, “If your standard is to be as fast as Kevin or Nevin in their respective strokes, then all but about 75 kids in this entire country are terrible at swimming too!” What I had to explain to Sean was that, except for positive motivational purposes, the standard you set for yourself should not be based on the talents that God has given someone else. They should be based on the talents that God gave you.
As I told Meghan O’Malley on deck on Saturday, “Meghan, the person you should most want to beat is Meghan!” I got the sense from Meghan’s ever-present smile that she had basically already grasped the concept. It took Sean a bit longer, but what Sean did ultimately learn to do was to make the most of his own talents and to be genuinely happy in the success of others, especially the success of his brothers – because even a mother can’t help you celebrate your successes like a sibling.
Thank You Coach Rick Benner
For those of you at practice on Tuesday, you had the outstanding opportunity to learn how to do a freestyle and backstroke flip turn from one of the area’s outstanding coaches, Rick Benner, the administrative head coach QDD. Coach Benner has coached Olympic swimmers, including an Olympic gold medalist. Joining him was his son Peter, who was a 9-time college All-American and an NCAA finalist in the 400 IM all four years at the University of Georgia. Even I learned a couple of new things! If you are feel inclined, click on here and send Coach Benner a brief note of thanks.
Thank you to Parent Volunteers
It was great to see so many parents make the trip to Richmond with us. At most schools, parents just send their kids off to be handled by some paid professional, but that’s not the way it is at Seton – and that’s part of the reason I’m here.
A few parents that I would like to highlight in particular have been making big contributions to the team as of last few weeks and I thought you’d like to know about it:
- Laura Heim has been handling the awesome task of ordering, assembling and distributing all of our team apparel. I’m sure it has been frustrating for her at times, especially with the web site problems we’ve experienced in the background, but I hope it was gratifying for her seen everyone decked out in the their uniforms on deck Saturday. Thank you Mrs. Heim!
- Carole Pechie is our team President, and she is the one who organized all of the logistics for our trip on Saturday. I found her efforts to be particularly admirable given that she has worked all night on Friday night at Fauquier Hospital and was heading back to work at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday night too. Only a mother could perform as well as she did on so little sleep! Thank you Mrs. Pechie!
- Allen Sinner has been working tirelessly in the background with our web site. Mr. Sinner is the one who got the registration and apparel ordering up and running, and he has been the one who has been working through many difficulties with the company that powers our site. Thank you Mr. Sinner!
We’ll continue working on breaststroke and butterfly (they are the same stroke in a lot of ways as the kids are learning) this coming week, so don’t miss practice!
See you Monday morning,
Coach Jim Koehr