It was another great weekend for Seton Swimming down at Hargrave Military Academy for the VSIS State Swimming Championships.  Our boy’s team, led by Nevin Cook, took 2nd place in Division II and 14th overall.  Our girls team, greatly diminished with Captain and top sprinter Katie Planchak’s draining illness, still managed to finish 4th in Division II and 15th overall – largely on the strength of Jessica Dunn’s strong performance, great relay times, and Katie’s courageous swimming.

Going into the meet, the boys knew that Hampton Roads Academy was a lock for the State Championship after they dropped down to Division II from Division I last year.  We also knew that our competition for State runner-up would come from Peninsula Catholic.  Like us, PCHS was loaded with brothers that could all swim.

On the girl’s side, our competition came primarily from Stonebridge and Walsingham Academy.  Not only were these two teams outstanding performers, but they were good folks as well.  I think I’ve got a meet set up with PCHS, Walsingham and Stonebridge at Freedom for the Saturday, December 8th next season.  Mark your calendars – it will be a good one.

Congratulations to the entire State Team for Seton:

–          Carolyn Claybrooks

–          Jessica Dunn

–          Mary-Kate Kenna

–          Lea Mazzoccoli

–          Kimberley Melnyk

–          Meghan Morch

–          Catherine Nuar

–          Katie Planchak

–          Danielle Smith

–          Laura Talbott

–          Bridget Wunderly

–          David Basinger

–          Connor Cook

–          Nevin Cook

–          Daniel Koehr

–          Sean Koehr

Top 8 Finishers

–          Nevin Cook faced the toughest competition of his high school swimming career and came away with two silver medals in the 200 IM and 100 Breast.  After prelims in the 200 IM, Nevin was exactly tied for the top seed with an outstanding swimmer from Collegiate School.  Both competitors went 1:58.92.  Nevin won a coin toss so he got to select the music for the championship finals that night.  Pacabel’s Canon was a very unorthodox selection – the mind games had begun.  Unfortunately, the Collegiate swimmer was so strong on the lead-off butterfly leg, that even Nevin couldn’t make up the difference.  In the 100 Breaststroke, it took a State record swim to beat Nevin out of the gold.  When Nevin was a freshman, he won the State Championship in 100 Breast with a 1:02.  This year, he lost it with a :59.

–          To further put Nevin’s performance into perspective, he has achieved the automatic High School All-America time this year.  All-America honors are awarded to the top 30 independent school swimmers in each event across the entire country.  If you swim the “automatic” time, that means that NISCA is absolutely sure you will be in the top 30.  In my experience with Kevin, that means Nevin is probably one top 10 or 15 Independent school breaststrokers in the country! Congratulations Nevin!

–          Jessica Dunn finished 3rd in 200 IM and 4th in 100 Back, smashing the Seton 200 IM record in the process.  Her 200 IM swim in the finals was particularly impressive.  She came out of prelims seeded 5th.  Walsingham’s top swimmer was seeded ahead of Jessie.  The finals seedings could not have worked out any better, because Jessie and the Walsingham girl were right next to each other.  At the 100, the Walsingham girl was more than a half second ahead of Jessie.  In Breaststroke, Jessie made up only a tenth second, so she entered the final freestyle leg well behind.  At the final turn, I didn’t think Jessie could catch her, but in the last five yards, she found some strength, she surged, and she out touched the Walsingham girl by only .04 seconds to claim the bronze medal!  After the race, the Walsingham coach told me that “Jessica showed a lot of heart to come back that way!”

Top 16 Finishers

–          Connor Cookonly a freshman, took 12th in the 200 IM.  He entered the finals in 13th place.  In the consolation finals on Friday night, Connor found himself in 15th place with 25 yards to go.  With a tremendous finish, Connor moved up 3 places in the last 15 yards to get 12th!

–          Sean Koehr somehow managed to take 15th in 100 Breaststroke in spite of his phase I separated shoulder.  His shoulder was really hurting him after the medley relay, so the referee allowed us to scratch him from the 50 Free without disqualifying him for the remainder of the meet.  The tactic paid off, not just for our relays, but for the 100 Breast also.  His times were the fastest he has swum all season.

–          Lea Mazzoccoli took 16th place in a very competitive 100 Butterfly.  In both the prelims and finals, her first 50 split was very fast, and her stroke has evolved to the point that she could be a model in a stroke video.  I’m really looking forward to having Lea on the team for her senior year.

–          The Boys 200 Medley Relay of Daniel Koehr, Nevin Cook, Connor Cook and Sean Koehr was one of the most exciting races of the meet for Seton.  They took 10th overall, moving up from 11th after prelims.  As expected, the competition was Peninsula Catholic, who was seeded .09 seconds ahead of us in the finals.  In the finals, we were behind after back, ahead after breast and behind again after fly.  Nevin, as usual, just ate up the entire field on the breaststroke leg.  Like our relay, PCHS’ top swimmers were brothers who swam the back, fly and free legs.  Sean hit the water behind the oldest brother, but he started walking him down right away.  A great turn by Sean left them neck-and-neck.  The whitewater was flying everywhere – when they touched, we had to look up at the board to see who had won.  Sean had swum a 23.66 split and out touched the senior!  Our two freshman, Daniel Koehr and Connor Cook swam their best splits of the season.  This entire relay is coming back next season.

–          The Girls 400 Free Relay of Jessica Dunn, Kimberley Melnyk, Katie Planchak and Laura Talbott took 12th place overall.  They really swam well in the finals with Jessie swimming a strong lead off and with both Kimberley and Laura doing lifetime best splits.  Katie had a very courageous swim.  Early in the meet, it became clear that she was significantly weakened by her hospitalization, but it was equally clear that Katie was not going to let that stop her.  After swimming over a minute in the prelims (her normal 100 relay split is under :55), she came back to break a minute and help our girls move up from 13th.

–          The Girls 200 Medley Relay of Bridget Wunderly, Mary-Kate Kenna, Lea Mazzoccoli and Meghan Morch over achieved with a 13th place finish.  Bridget did a nice job of handling the backstroke leg so we could use Jessie in the Freestyle relays.  Mary-Kate and Lea had nice swims and Meghan Morch made the trip worth it for her mother with a tremendous anchor leg.

–          The Girls 200 Free Relay of Jessica Dunn, Katie Planchak, Lea Mazzoccoli and Meghan Morch finished in 14th place after finals.  Once again, Meghan Morch had a great split on the anchor leg.

Other Great Swims and Personal Records

–          Laura Talbott was on fire in the 100 backstroke.  Her best time going in was a 1:09.88.  On Saturday, she swam a 1:07.27!  What a great swim.  She also had a very fast split in the 400 Free relay.

–          Kimberley Melnyk had a really fine meet.  She swam a personal record in the 200 Free and her best time of the season in the 500, but her best swims were in the 400 Free relay where she split a lifetime best 1:00.03.  Next season, I looking forward to see her break 1 minute in the 100 Free from a standing start.

–          Mary-Kate Kenna anchored one of our 200 Free relays in grand fashion.  She only breathed one time in the last 25 yards and split under :28 for the first time.  It was a great swim.

–          Senior Billy Corkery ended his career in the last event of the State meet, the 400 Free relay.  He definitely made the most of it – he split lifetime best :56.10!

Before I close, I’d like to make sure that I thank Brad Basinger and Chris Cook for taking the bullet for all us on timing.  Each team was supposed to provide one timer for each session.  Mr. Basinger and Mr. Cook stepped up.  Also, I’d like to thank Mr. Kenna for getting the room for the post-meet celebration.  Our post-state-meet card game won’t be the same next year without Billy Corkery.

Don’t forget that there are professional photos for sale a  There are some good ones of our swimmers on there.

The final event of the season is our awards celebration.  I’ll see all of you in Faustina at 4:00 p.m. next Sunday.

It was a great season,

Coach Jim Koehr

P.S.  Our very own Kevin Koehr is swimming in the ACC Championships at the University of North Carolina this weekend.  This morning, I watched him to :50.98 in 100 Back to claim 19th going into the bonus finals.  Not too bad considering that he had a torn ACL repaired only 6 months ago.

Virginia Tech, my newly adopted swim team, won the ACC Championship in the 200 Free relay with a 1:19.47.  That means that they had 4 swimmers all go under :20 seconds in 50 Free!  I also watched a guy go 1:46 in 200 IM!

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