That one hurt.

The conference championship is decided by the records between the teams in the conference during their first two meetings of the season.  On December 20th, we beat Fredericksburg Christian by 14 points, so at our second meeting this past Saturday, we could have won the conference if we either won the meet outright or lost by less than 14 points.  We lost by 22 points.  In other words, we lost the conference championship by only 8 points.

Eight (8) points in a high school swim meet is nothing.  There are so many ways to gain or lose eight (8) points that even very small things really matter.  Below, I’ve highlighted numerous places where an individual swimmer could have made all the difference, including an example where the difference was only .05 seconds, but to focus on only one individual or only one relay would not be telling the whole story.

Like a team that loses as a basketball game on a last minute missed shot or a game-ending bad call by a referee, you have to ask, “is that really why we lost the game?”  What about the missed free throw in the 1st quarter?  Or the lack of hustle before half-time that gave your opponent an easy basket?  Or the bad call at the beginning of the 2nd half that went your way?  We only remember the prominent events at the crucial moments, but it is the small lapses at the non-crucial moments that are every bit as responsible for the loss.

That was the case for Seton Swimming on Saturday.  Many people had a chance to step up, and it would have only taken one or two more to seize the opportunity to claim victory for our Boys in the Conference.

A big part of the difference could have also been in our practice attendance over Christmas break.  On Saturday, we had 20 scoring boy’s swimmers who all had 5 opportunities (including the CF Swim-a-thon) to train over the Christmas break.  As a group, our boy’s varsity swimmers attended only 62% of those practices.  I know some of you were traveling, but how many of you were in town and still missed a practice or the swim-a-thon?

When I was in the corporate world, I had a Plant Manager in Morgantown, WV who used to tell me, “Jim, everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die”.  Meets like this are won on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, not Saturday.

The good news is that our Girls once again have virtually sealed the deal for their 21st straight conference title.  Since 1995, our girls have never lost a conference meet of any kind, and, since I’ve been coaching, I can’t even think of a time when a conference opponent scored even half of our points.  With only one senior on the varsity team, I’d expect this to continue for at least another year.

Final Scores

As you may recall from previous blogs where I explained how high meets were scored – basically, we all swam at the same time, but every team was scored against every other team separately, so there was actually a grand total of 42 different meets going on between the 7 different teams.

Of those meets, we were involved in 12 of them.  Our girls beat all comers except for Division I powerhouse Trinity Episcopal, who our boys also lost to.  Here’s the way the meet scores turned out for us at Seton:


Trinity Episcopal      204         Seton                                                                  82

FCS                        154         Seton                                                               132

Seton                       188         St. Michael the Archangel                                     92

Seton                       188         Wakefield                                                         60

Seton                       187         Tandem Friends                                                 68

Seton                       206         Highland  School                                                 28


Trinity Episcopal      164         Seton                                                                118

Seton                       209         Wakefield                                                         26

Seton                       208.5      Tandem Friends                                               11.5

Seton                       200         St. Michael the Archangel                                     61

Seton                       193         Highland  School                                                 63

Seton                       174         Fredericksburg Christian                                    85

How Many Ways Could It Have Ended Up Differently for Our Boys?

When you look at the Boys meet event by event, you really understand how close this was for the Conference Championship between Seton and Fredericksburg Christian.  I’m flogging myself with this analysis to make the point clearly that any scoring swimmer can make the difference in a close meet – for good or bad – everyone matters.

After adjusting for the obviously bogus FCS relay seed times, I re-scored the psych sheet and found that, if everything went as projected, we’d lose 147 to 139 – or by 8 points.  Given that we could lose by no more than 14 points, that gave us a only a 6 point buffer.  How quickly that buffer disappeared – like in the very first event!

As I did with the Homecoming meet, prior to the first event, I highlighted in a team meeting all of the races that were most likely to make the difference.  And once again, prior to the meet I told the kids that the winner was going to be the team that swam the most Personal Records, particularly in those highlighted races – and we were going to be that team.  As the meet progressed however, we just seemed to watching all of the breaks go against us.

And a lot of those bad breaks were self-inflicted.  Out of 32 individual scoring swim for our boys team, we had only 13 PRs.  Fredericksburg Christian may have had 18 (it’s hard to tell for sure because many of their seed times were obviously misleading).

Here’s an event by event account of how the tide turned against us.  Note how many different ways we could have made up 8 points and didn’t.  (Recall that Relays are scored 1st thru 3rd with 10-5-3 points and Individual events are scored 1st thru 7th with 8-6-5-4-3-2-1 points):

200 Medley Relay

  • The very first event was probably our best chance to win the conference championship. All we had to do was let the FCS relay win and then take 2nd and 3rd with our “A” and “B” Relay.
  • The “A” relay that I had entered had gone 2:05 earlier in the season, I expected our “B” relay to go 2:07 or 2:08 and the FCS relay was seeded at 2:10.
  • One thing that would play out throughout the meet is how far off the FCS seed times were from reality. Their “B” relay was entered at 2:10 and ended up going 2:06.21 – that’s quite a difference.
  • But in this case, it shouldn’t have mattered because both of our relays should have beaten that – but neither one did.
  • The heartbreaker was when our “A” relay went 2:06.31 and lost to the FCS “B” relay by .05 seconds. Our “B” relay went 2:08.16.
  • The .05 second loss resulted in a four (4) point swing against us, and the loss of both relays resulted in a 10 point swing against us
  • This was the first of many places where we could have made up the 8 crucial points.
  • Not the start I was hoping for:
  Seton FCS
Projected Score 8 10
Actual Score 3 15

200 Freestyle

  • This event went largely as projected except for 7th place which FCS took from us with a big PR from their fourth entry.
  • That was a 2 point swing against us.
  • We didn’t have a single PR in this event while FCS had two (2), although, once again, an FCS seed time was more than 10 seconds off of reality.
  • The projected score for this event was Seton 12 – FCS 17 and the actual event score was Seton 11 – FCS 18. The meet score was now:
  Seton FCS
Projected Score 20 27
Actual Score 14 33

200 Individual Medley

  • Alex Ceol and Seamus Koehr really delivered the goods with big PRs.
    • Alex was seeded 5th but his 7.60 second PR jumped him up to 4th. His backstroke turn was particularly good, gaining him a half a body length on his FCS competitor.
    • Seamus was seeded 8th (so no points), but he had a great last 50 yards, dropped 4.45 seconds and ended up in 6th place!
  • Seamus’ swim was particularly important to us because another Seton swimmer was seeded 6th but got DQ’d for a one-hand touch on the breaststroke turn – so Seamus really saved our bacon here.
  • Thanks to Alex and Seamus, this event was a 2 point swing in our favor.
  • The projected score for this event was Seton 11 – FCS 18 and the actual event score was Seton 12 – FCS 17. The meet score was now::
  Seton FCS
Projected Score 37 39
Actual Score 26 50

50 Free

  • In this event, Mark O’Donohue and Andrew Quinan were seeded to get 2nd and 3rd, which they did.
  • We were also seeded to get 4th and 6th with Josh Miller as the 6th Fortunately for us, Josh was able to jump up the 5th with a swim that duplicated his PR, because our 4th seed fell to 7th.
  • And once again, we lost the PR battle – we had none and FCS had three (3).
  • Another four (4) point swing against us.
  • The projected score for this event was Seton 17 – FCS 12 and the actual event score was Seton 15 – FCS 14. The meet score was now::
  Seton FCS
Projected Score 55 50
Actual Score 41 64
  • This was the first point in the meet that I saw a definitive score, but I knew that we could still cut this 23 point deficit to below 14 with the upcoming relays and breaststroke – if we could somehow swim better than we’d been swimming so far.

100 Butterfly

  • In this event, we were seeded to get 1st, 3rd, 6th and 7th and ended up with 2nd, 4th, 5th and 7th
  • The event was won by FCS’ top swimmer who once again was seeded with a time dramatically off reality – he ended up going 57.85 and was seeded at a 1:02. Nothing we could do about that – he was just plain fast.
  • Paul Pechie and Patrick Dealey were able to keep this event from being even worse for us with their big PRs
    • Paul was seeded 6th and jumped up to 4th after cutting his PR by a whopping 5.39 seconds!
    • Patrick was seeded 8th (no score) and jumped up to 7th with his 1.02 second PR.
  • Alex Ceol had his second great swim of the day hitting a 2.14 second PR and taking 2nd place behind Tommy – Alex was supposed to get 3rd.
  • Another two (2) point swing against us.
  • The projected score for this event was Seton 16 – FCS 13 and the actual event score was Seton 14 – FCS 15. The meet score was now:
  Seton FCS
Projected Score 71 63
Actual Score 55 79

100 Free

  • This event was yet another lost chance to gain some ground. We were seeded to get 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th but without a single PR in the event, we ended up with only 2nd, 3rd and 5th
  • The top FCS swimmer swam nearly 3.5 seconds faster than his seed time, which was enough to keep Brian Koehr out of first place even though he swam well.
  • We had one swimmer DQ for not touching one of the walls. That DQ certainly didn’t cost us the championship, but it was just another cut in our death by 1,000 cuts on Saturday.
  • This event was a big six (6) point swing against us.
  • The projected score for this event was Seton 17 – FCS 12 and the actual event score was Seton 14 – FCS 15. The meet score was now::
  Seton FCS
Projected Score 87 76
Actual Score 69 94
  • In spite of these breaks going against us, we were still hanging around a deficit of 25 points, and I knew we could cut it to less than 14 with just the two upcoming relays.

500 Free

  • Mark O’Donohue had a great swim in this event, improving his personal record by 2.92 seconds to take 3rd
  • Unfortunately for us, no other Seton swimmers could get near their PRs while two (2) FCS swimmers hit huge PRs (assuming the seed times were not bogus once again).
  • That meant that our seeds of 2nd, 4th, 6th and 7th turned into only 3rd, 4th and 6th – the hole was getting deeper.
  • This event was another big six (6) point swing against us.
  • The projected score for this event was Seton 13 – FCS 16 and the actual event score was Seton 11 – FCS 18. The meet score was now:
  Seton FCS
Projected Score 100 92
Actual Score 80 112
  • Now the deficit was up to 32 points. I didn’t know that at the time – I just know that it was pretty big.  Thinking that we could gain 8 points in each of the two upcoming relays, and knowing that we were likely to score quite well in breaststroke, I was still thinking we could get the meet to within 14 points and take the Conference title.

200 Free Relay

  • This was our chance to gain some ground, but I knew it was going to take some great swimming.
  • The FCS relay was entered at 1:38.00 which, given the swimmers entered was clearly bogus – again. With what I knew about the FCS kids, I guessed that both them and us would do something like 1:40 high.
  • We had to get 1st and 3rd here to cut that 32 point deficit, but it wasn’t happening.
  • There were no touch pads, so we didn’t have many splits, but Coach Lowell and I were tracking them on this race. Once the lead-off leg was nearly 1.4 seconds off his PR, we knew it was over.
  • So instead of gaining 8 points, we lost 2 more – a ten (10) point swing.
  • Our “B” relay got the job done to get 3rd place in spite of the fact that their time was more than 2 seconds slower than the sum of their 50 Free times – at this point, I was no longer surprised by this.
  • The projected score that I was hoping for in this event was Seton 13 – FCS 5 and the actual event score was Seton 8 – FCS 10. The meet score was now:
  Seton FCS
Projected Score 113 97
Actual Score 88 122
  • Now the deficit was up to 34 points, and we had to get it down to no more than 14. Again, I didn’t know the exact score, but I definitely knew that we had wasted a great opportunity to get back into the hunt.

100 Backstroke

  • Matthew Fioramonti, Joe Fioramonti and Martin Quinan all had PRs – finally!
    • Matthew cut a whopping 2.04 seconds from his PR which secured his 2nd place seed
    • Joe cut .48 seconds to keep his 6th place seed
    • Martin cut .77 seconds to keep his 7th place seed.
  • Unfortunately, our remaining swimmer was off his time, and fell to 4th from his 3rd place seed.
  • We continued to move in the wrong direction – this was another two (2) point swing against us.
  • The projected score for in this event was Seton 14 – FCS 15 and the actual event score was Seton 13 – FCS 16. The meet score was now:
  Seton FCS
Projected Score 127 112
Actual Score 101 138
  • Another opportunity lost

100 Breaststroke

  • This was only the second event of the day where we scored more points than we were supposed to.
  • We had no PRs in the event, but Brian Koehr’s strong swim jumped him from the 3rd seed to the 2nd seed and Josh Miller jumped from the 6th seed to finish 5th.
  • Josh’s swim was particularly fun to watch as he got completely underwater and glided for every stroke. As his FCS competitor tired, Josh just glided right past him.  It is an indication of how coachable Josh is that he glides to much!  (Let’s find the happy medium in practice, Josh)
  • So thanks to Brian and Josh, this event was a 2 point swing in our favor.
  • The projected score for in this event was Seton 17 – FCS 12 and the actual event score was Seton 18 – FCS 11. The meet score was now:
  Seton FCS
Projected Score 136 132
Actual Score 119 149

400 Free Relay

  • I grabbed the boys in the 400 Free Relay and told them that, if we had any chance at all, our “A” Relay had to beat FCS’ “A” Relay and our “B” Relay had to beat FCS’ “B” Relay.
  • And once again, I had to tell the boys to ignore the FCS seed times – both of them were nearly 10 seconds off. By my own calculation, the FCS “A” relay should have gone no faster than 3:49 – they ended up going 3:49 versus their 3:40 seed.
  • I had changed our relay line-up to try to beat 3:49, and it worked. Tommy Flook, Mark O’Donohue, Matthew Fioramonti and Brian Koehr took 1st with 3:48.19 – the sum of their 100 Free PRs was 3:48.58 so I’d have to say that this may have been the best swim of the day for Seton.
  • The game within the game was that FCS had a strong swimmer leading off and their top swimmer at the anchor. I told Tommy that he just had to be in contact with the FCS lead-off.  Then I told Mark and Matthew that they needed to give Brian at least a 3 second lead if we were to expect him to hold off the FCS anchor.
  • Everyone more than did their job – they gave Brian a nearly 7 second lead. It would have taken Jameson Hill to catch him at that point.
  • The Seton “B” Relay kept it very exciting with Paul Pechie, Alex Ceol, Dominic Wittlinger and Mark Fioramonti beating the FCS “B” Relay by only .12 seconds.
  • The projected score I was hoping for in this event was Seton 13 – FCS 5 and the actual event score was also Seton 13 – FCS 5. The meet score was now:
  Seton FCS
Projected Score 139 147
Actual Score 132 154
  • It was a very positive way to finish the meet, even though I suspected that we wasted too many opportunities previous to this.
  • With two events left to go, we were 37 points down, and we were able to cut the deficit to 22 points in just Breaststroke and the 400 Free Relay – but that was 8 points short of the maximum deficit that we could have to win the Conference title, 14 points.
  • How easy it would have been to find those 8 points in nearly all of the events detailed above. Such a bummer.

The Girls Continue to Dominate the DAC

I know that some of you may be thinking, “don’t we have a girls team also?  Well, we certainly do, and once again, they more than doubled the score of their closest conference competitor, virtually sealing the deal for their 21st straight conference title.

Yes, I realize that my focus for the last two meets has been on the Boys conference battle with FCS, but as the championship season approaches, you’ll start to hear much more about the girls again because of the great things in store for them – starting next week at NoVA Catholics.

And yes, there was some very good swimming from our Girls on Saturday too:

  • Vivian Zadnik dropped 8.58 seconds in 200 Free and beat all DAC conference competitors in the event. She was 4th overall behind only swimmers from Trinity Episcopal.
  • Anna Kenna took 3rd in 200 IM behind two probable State finalists, but she really shined leading off the medley relay and in her big win against a top State-level swimmer in 100 Free.
  • Dani Flook took 4th overall in 200 IM with a .44 second PR. She also took 4th place in 500 Free behind three (3) probable state finalists
  • Claire Kenna took 3rd overall in both 50 Free and 100 Breaststroke. Claire has the fastest 100 Breaststroke time on the team this so far this season.
  • Madeline Snider, I found out after the meet, was really feeling sick, but she powered through anyway to take 7th in 200 Free and 8th in 50 Free.
  • Kimberly Rector’s butterfly is looking much better. She took 2nd overall in 100 Fly and split 29.78 in the 50 as part of the medley.  She also took 5th in 100 Breaststroke.
  • Therese Pechie dropped so much time in 100 Free, 2.87 seconds, that had she been a scoring swimmer, she would have scored for Seton behind only Anna Kenna. Her time was actually faster than the other three (3) Seton scoring swimmers.
  • Bridget O’Malley placed 3rd overall in 100 Back behind two potential state champions in the event.

Another 36 Personal Records

This week’s emphasis was 100 Freestyle though I knew that we would probably not see much improvement since, except for the Cystic Fibrosis Swim-a-thon, our non-varsity swimmers hadn’t been in the water over Christmas.

Here are the Personal Records that I have not already mentioned:

  • David Catabui had a very good meet. In 100 Free, he lowered his PR by 3.36 seconds.  Then in the 200 Free Relay, his father timed his split at 33.76.  Because you get a rolling start on a relay leg that is not the lead-off, it doesn’t count as a PR, but is does count as a great swim given that his PR is 34.75!
  • Drew Dalrymple cut 1.58 seconds from his 100 Free PR to break 1:10 for the first time ever.
  • Ben Dealey lowered his 100 Free PR by .90 seconds
  • Katie Dealey cut a big .84 seconds from her 50 Free PR
  • Joe Fioramonti didn’t just have a great scoring PR in 100 Back, he also hit a 1.53 second PR in 100 Free.
  • Justin Fioramonti cut a huge 4.90 seconds from his 100 Free PR.
  • Dominic Hartung somehow cut 18.59 seconds from his 100 Free PR. He also cut .05 seconds from his 50 Free PR.
  • TheresA Hartung also had a huge PR in 100 Free, cutting 12.29 seconds from her previous best.
  • Emily Heim had a very nice swim in 100 Fly, lowering her PR by 1.81 seconds to 1:16.62 – not too bad!
  • Sean Kellogg had a great swim in 100 Free, cutting 8.43 seconds from his previous best
  • Jeremy Kleb lowered his 50 Free PR again – this time he did it by .18 seconds.
  • Seamus Koehr followed-up that great swim in the 200 IM with a .09 second PR in 100 Free
  • Anne Konstanty took advantage of her chance at 50 Free to lower her PR by .16 seconds.
  • Tommy Moore lowered his 100 Free PR by .06 seconds.
  • Peter O’Donohue continues to show the potential to be a really good distance swimmer – on Saturday, he cut 16.38 seconds from his 200 Free PR.
  • Martin Quinan looked very strong in 100 Free so it didn’t surprise me when I saw in the results that he lowered his PR by 4.44 seconds to 1:07.31. Martin is going to score a lot of points for us before he graduates.
  • Jude Van de Voorde cut his 100 Free PR by 1.30 seconds.
  • Marcie Van de Voorde had a really good meet. How do you cut 25.87 seconds in 100 Free!?  Great work Marcie!  She also cut another .17 seconds in 50 Free.
  • Dominic Wittlinger hit 29.00 in 50 Free for the first time after cutting .22 seconds from his PR
  • Vivian Zadnik in addition to her very nice swim in the 200 Free, lowered her 500 Free PR by .70 seconds.
  • Edith Barvick’s backstroke was looking very good – she was just able to outtouch a girl from Wakefield in 100 Back as a result.

Qualifiers for VISAA States and National Catholics

Only Kimberly Rector added an individual cut this week with her new National Catholic qualifying time in 100 Fly.

And that great swim in the boys 400 Free Relay hit the cut for the State Championship.  That’s our third boys relay to qualify for States.  To date, we don’t have any individual qualifiers on the boy’s side, but a couple of boys, including Brian Koehr, Tommy Flook and Patrick Pennefather, are very close.

This is the last week to qualify to for National Catholics since entries are due the middle of next week.  Eligibility reports are always posted under the applicable meets under Meet & Team Information.  As of right now, our National Catholic Team is:

  • Alex Sinner
  • Anna Kenna
  • Claire Kenna
  • Kimberly Rector
  • Emily Heim
  • Dani Flook

We also have all three relays qualified, so once I figure out how to line-up the three fastest possible relays, there may be one or two more girls on the team.  I’ll publish the final team after NoVa Catholics.

The National Catholic High School Championship Loyola University in Baltimore at the end of January and the State Championship is moving back to the Collegiate Aquatic Center in Richmond February 13-14th.

Final Notes

  • This coming weekend is our annual Northern Virginia Catholic High School Invitational Championship at the Freedom Center. The meet announcement is posted and shows the complete schedule.  Plan to be on deck ready to stretch at 2:19 p.m.
    • I’m looking forward to seeing our Girls really shine at this one, including Anna “Cardinal Killer” Kenna!
  • Dryland test results are posted under Team Information. Those of you who have an incomplete will be with me for dryland Monday morning.
  • For those families that are new to the team, please note that, after January 24th there are no more meets that allow exhibition swimmers.
    • The VISAA Division II Invitational and the DAC Conference Championship Meet both allow only four (4) scoring swimmers per event.
    • States and National Catholics only allow swimmers that hit the specified qualifying time.
    • So that means that, for about half the team, our Junior Varsity Invitational on January 24th at the Fitch WARF in Warrenton will be their final meet of the season.

January is the time to really ramp up the conditioning in anticipation of the championship season starting on January 24th.  Come to practice ready to work.  Do everything you can not to miss practice!

Hope you had a great Christmas,

Coach Jim Koehr

Click to access the login or register cheese