Last Saturday, we took the Seton bus down to Richmond where our boys and girls teams swam against Trinity Episcopal, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy and Covenant.  Trinity and Nansemond-Suffolk are both VSIS Division I schools, and Trinity’s boys should compete favorably for the Division I state championship.

The depth of our team really showed in the results.  With both Katie Planchak and Sean Koehr out of the meet because of illness or injury, our girls still were able to beat Nansemond-Suffolk and Covenant, and our boys were able to defeat Covenant and stay very close to NSA.

The final scores looked like this:


Seton      77        Trinity          93

Seton      92        NSA             78

Seton      125      Covenant      38


Seton      56        Trinity          114

Seton      88        NSA             80

Seton      88        Covenant      78

Billy Corkery Gets his Own Section of the Meet Summary

If there were such as thing as a game ball for a swimming meet, then Billy Corkery would have won it hands-down.  I think I’ll be talking about Billy’s performance at this meet for a long time.

Billy is a senior who, like several people on the team, really wanted to qualify for States but was struggling to achieve the new, faster, qualifying times.  He’s been working tirelessly in practice.  He joined Mr. Heisler’s weight lifting club.  He’s focused on improving his strokes.  He’s kept a positive attitude.  In spite of all that however, it was starting to look like it simply was not going to happen – until this weekend.

Billy decided that time was running out, so he pulled out all of the stops.  He did what swimmers have been doing for years when a top performance was needed – he shaved his entire body!  Legs, arms, back, and even armpits.  He was a man on a mission.

Billy was focused on qualifying in the 50 Free while leading off the 200 Free relay, but first, he had to swim the 200 and 100 Free.  He hasn’t swum the 200 since last season, so I had an inkling that something great could happen – and it did!  Somehow, Billy managed to cut over 27 seconds and hit the State qualifying time!  His performance at the nexus of preparation and opportunity was nearly unbelievable.  But he wasn’t done.

His next event was the 100 Free, an event in which he only recently broke 1:00.  In this event, he somehow cut another 2.81 seconds from his time to go :56.53 and take over Daniel Koehr’s spot on the 400 Free Relay at National Catholics this coming weekend!

I still get goosebumps thinking about his performance.  It makes me think of some of the most successful people that I have known.  They worked for excellence in everything they did, they continuously improved themselves, and they set goals.  They were people with a plan.  But in so many cases I can think of, the places where these people eventually found success had never occurred to them before.  In real life, preparation meets opportunity in the strangest places.  You just have to make sure that you are prepared, because you can’t always predict where God will provide the opportunity.

There’s a life lesson in Billy Corkery’s work this season.  My father used to tell me to “bloom where you’re planted”.  What he meant was, be excellent in everything you do because, while you’re thinking you swim the 50, God might be thinking you’re a 200 guy.

Other Championship Qualifiers

Danielle Smith cut 4.39 seconds from her 500 Free to make the State cut.  This was her third cut, having previously qualified in the 200 Free and 200 IM.  She is also very close in the 100 Backstroke.  It is particularly good for her to get this extra cut because the 200 Free and 200 IM are back-to-back events at States.

Top Swims

Given that some of the top swimmers in the state were at the meet this past weekend, I’d like to note some of the swimmers who competed favorably at this level:

–          Nevin Cook dominated his two races in the 200 IM and 100 Breaststroke.  In the 200 IM, Nevin swam against an outstanding swimmer from Trinity.  At the end of the backstroke leg (100 yards), Nevin was actually just a bit behind, but that was soon rectified in the Breaststroke.  Nevin pulled away, eventually winning by almost 2 and half seconds with a time of 1:58.79.  He won the Breaststroke by 4 seconds with a time of 59.83.  His breaststroke swim was particularly impressive because he slipped on his start.  In spite of that, he surfaced on the first pull-out like an attack submarine.  I was standing next to Daniel Koehr when Nevin came up, and all he could say was, “Wow!”.  Nevin is the defending National Catholic High School Champion in these two events and hopes to defend those titles this coming weekend.

–          Jessica Dunn also dominated her two races in the 200 IM and 100 Backstroke.  She took the field by over 4 seconds in backstroke and by over 8 seconds in the 200 IM.  Jessica will be competing for possibly two top-8 finishes at the upcoming National Catholic Championships this weekend.

–          Lea Mazzoccoli’s butterfly has never looked better, and she has the times to prove it.  Lea took first place over a very quick Trinity girl with a PR time of 1:05.13.  I was particularly excited about this time because she is competing at this level while swimming only 3 times per week at Seton.  There is simply no way she can have the level of conditioning that she had last season as a USA swimmer so it can only be more heart and better stroke technique.

–          Freshman Connor Cook showed that he can be one of the great Seton swimmers of the future.  In 100 Back, an event that is not normally his strongest, Connor went 1:00.78 and placed 3rd, only a second off the winner. He also took 3rd in 100 Fly.  His best time in the 500 Free would have placed 1st had his coach been smart enough to put him in that event.

–          The girls 200 IM was a great event for us.  We went 1, 2, 3 versus NSA and Covenant and 1, 3, 4 versus Trinity.  In addition to Jessica Dunn, Mary-Kate Kenna and Bridget Wunderly showed that they can compete with the best in one of the most difficult events in the meet.

–           Our girls 200 Medley relay of Bridget Wunderly, Laura Talbott, Mary-Kate Kenna and Kimberley Melnyk hung in for 2nd place behind Trinity, but just ahead of Nansemond-Suffolk.  The race for second came down to the touch, and Kimberley was too much for the NSA girl, out touching her by .23 seconds.  This win illustrated the depth of our girls team particularly well since this was not our normal “A” relay.  I stacked the two freestyle relays.  It was also noteworthy because it was the first time that Mary-Kate swam fly in a relay.  Expect to see more of this in the future since we now know that she can hang with the best.

–          7th grader Alex Doonis hung with the big dogs, placing 3rd in 200 Free and 4th in 100 Backstroke.

–          By the time we got to the final event, the girls 400 Free relay, I knew the meet was close with NSA.  I told our “A” relay of Alex Doonis, Lea Mazzoccoli, Kimberley Melnyk and Jessica Dunn that they had to beat NSA’s “A” relay.  I told our “B” relay of Mary-Kate Kenna, Casey Flanagan, Carolyn Claybrooks, and Bridget Wunderly that they had to beat NSA’s “B” relay.  Both relays got the job done – we won that event by 7 points and we won that meet by only 14 points.  Had those two races gone the other way, it would have been a 14 point swing and we would have tied!  Don’t think that “B” relays don’t matter.

Other Personal Records

As usual, we had a large number of personal records, especially considering that we were only able to take down 37 of our swimmers:

–          Sean Bartnick makes the list – again!  Every time he touches the water, he just gets faster.  I told him we’re going to twice a week swim meets for him.  This time, he cut 3.26 seconds from his 100 Free and .13 seconds from his 50 Free.  He is very close to breaking the 1:00 barrier in the 100 and the :27 second barrier in the 50.

–          Carolyn Claybrooks is having a great season.  She improved in the 200 Free once again with a drop of 1.23 seconds.

–          Billy Corkery, not surprisingly, also got a PR in 50 Free leading off the 200 Free relay.

–          Connor Cook beat his PR by nearly half a second in 100 Free leading off the 400 Free relay.  His 54.24 is very fast for a freshman.  Nevin better set some of those records low if he wants to keep them.

–          Vincent “Catfish” Dunn earned his nickname with two PRs in 100 Backstroke (by 4.75 seconds!) and 200 Free (by .2 seconds).

–          Casey Flanagan cut more time from her 500 Free.  This time she cut another .35 seconds.  He freestyle is very “long and strong”.  She has a great future in Seton swimming.

–          David Harris is starting to get his butterfly time down to a pretty competitive level.  He cut another .6 seconds to place 5th in the event.

–          Kelsey Kleb lowered her 100 Free time by 1.40 seconds.  That’s quite a jump in a single meet for a swimmer at Kelsey’s level.

–          Brendan Koehr had only swum the 500 Free one time before, but he wanted another chance at it so he could break the 8:00 barrier.  He did it, with a 6.02 second PR.

–          Daniel Koehr usually swims backstroke, which comes right after the 500, so he hasn’t had a crack at that race since last season.  He made the most of it when he lowered his previous best 500 Free time by over 19 seconds and nearly broke 6:00 minutes in the process.

–          Kimberley Melnyk has looked very strong in freestyle all season long.  That trend continues with a PR in 50 Free this past weekend.

–          Sarah Locke improved her 200 IM time again.  She has really improved this season.

–          I’m glad that Lizzie Rogers was able to join us in Richmond.  She took full advantage of the opportunity, improving her 100 Breast time by 3.38 seconds.

–          Christian Vestermark cut his 200 Free time by another .73 seconds.  His freestyle is looking longer than ever.

–          Sarah Zapiain is starting to look very good in 100 backstroke.  She cut an incredible 7.73 seconds from her previous best time.

More Noteworthy Swims

–          Carolyn Claybrooks had a really strong finish in the 200 Free.  She was 3 body-lengths behind at the 175 and for a short time, I thought she was going to catch the girl from Covenant.  It was quite a swim on that last 25.  Now she knows that she can go out faster the next time she swims the 200.

–          Mary-Kate Kenna’s butterfly is really improving.  In the 200 IM, she was 2nd to the wall behind only Jessica Dunn after the first 50 Fly.  Had I not worked her too hard during the break before the 100 Fly, I know she would have swum better in that event also.

–          Bridget Wunderly’s backstroke leg in the 200 IM made the difference.

–          Brendan Koehr really has a nice final 25 in the 200 Free.  As he gains more experience, I think he’ll realize that he can swim the first part of the 200 faster also. It’s not as far as you think.

–          Sam Quinan’s strokes have improved markedly this season.  For the first time, Sam completed the 200 IM legally.  His butterfly and backstroke, in particular, have never looked better.

–          Kimberley Melnyk showed us all how to swim a 50 Free.  She didn’t breath the entire 2nd length and pulled ahead of the girl from Covenant in the last 5 yards of the race.  She just seemed to get stronger as the race went on.

–          Sean Bartnick has a great start in 50 Free.  He has advanced so far as a swimmer this season that, when I saw him in the water during 100 Free, I didn’t recognize him at first.

–          Joe Ross is making excellent strides in his butterfly.  His first 50, in particular, was by far the best I’ve even seen him look in this event.  Because his stroke has changed (for the better!), he’s now using muscles that he’s not used to pushing.  More work in practice on Fly will help condition those muscles better so he can finish the race as strong as he starts it.  Joe also swam the 50 Free at the end of the 200 Free relay with only 4 breaths.  He is working on alternate breathing during practice to help even out his freestyle.  Not breathing at all works even better for the 50.

–          Matthew Verry jumped in the meet at the last minute and bravely took on the 500 Freestyle.  It was his first time ever doing the event in a meet, and he did very well.  Now that he knows he can do it, I look forward to giving him another opportunity in the future.

–          John Ross anchored one of our 200 Free relays with a much improved freestyle.  I was particularly impressed with the way he pulls all the way through with each stroke.  I was also pleased with how high he got his shoulders up during 100 backstroke.

–          Sarah Zapiain has a very nice roll to her backstroke.  She will be a good backstroker for us in the future.

–          Patrick Kenna is developing some nice turns.  His turns in 100 backstroke were particularly good.

–          Didn’t you just love the way the announcer said “Mazzzzoccolieeee”?

–          Thank you to Christian “Rocky” Kleb who stepped in at the last minute to swim for an injured swimmer.  He has done a great job in his first year of swimming!

At the end of the meet, I really pleased to have a parent from Trinity Episcopal approach me to tell me what great kids we have.  She was really impressed with how friendly we were and we all looked her in the eye when we talked to her.  Great job!

Areas to Improve in the Water

We have got to work more on relay starts.  There were at least two close relays that we could have won had our starts been better.  We started working on them at Tuesday’s practice and we will continue tomorrow morning.

One final note about attendance at our meets:  I understand if you are unable to swim in a meet, but I need to know about it before I do the meet sheet.  If I publish your name on the meet sheet, they I have the very reasonable expectation that you will be there.  This is even more important when we have a meet where not everyone is able to swim.  Because you are swimming, someone else could not.  It is simply not fair to the other swimmers (and to me) to have an unexcused absence from a swim meet.

This coming weekend we have two meets.  Coach Mulhern will lead our top 15 swimmers to Villanova University for the National Catholic High School Championships.  I would love to be there myself, but I’m going to take our Junior Varsity Swimmers down to Norfolk with a meet with several Tidewater area schools hosted by Norfolk Academy.  It should be a lot of fun.  More details on the logistics of the JV meet are coming shortly.

See you at practice Thursday,

Coach Koehr

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