Last Saturday, we hosted our 9th annual VISAA Division II Invitational. The meet was originally conceived as an opportunity for all of the smaller schools in the State to build a sense of community with a championship-style meet before we join all of the big schools at the State Championship meet two weeks later. In those nine (9) years, the meet has grown to 20 teams and a real preview of some future State Champions. The music, the medals, and the friendly teams all combine to make it a great experience every year.
One of the reasons this has become such a great meet is because the depth of volunteer talent that we bring to this enterprise. Of course we have our stalwarts like Mr. Seltman, Mrs. Pechie, Mr. Flook, Mr. Rector, Mrs. Hall and so many others who make these meets run, but I’d really like to highlight a few other volunteers here who made major contributions on Saturday:
- As usual, the Freedom Center’s Colorado Timing System was frustratingly unreliable, but Dealey and Mr. Sinner fought through it and delivered reliable results with surprising speed. They are both very cool cucumbers in the heat of battle!
- Even though he didn’t have any children in the water on Saturday, John Kleb was fabulous as our announcer and maestro of all things musical. He was in a unique position to make the atmosphere special, and he took full advantage of the opportunity. If I didn’t know any better, I’d also say that Mr. Kleb was having a pretty good time in the process!
Hampton Roads Academy (HRA) was awesome – both their boys and their girls. At their first-ever appearance at this meet, their Captains hoisted both of the Championship trophies, winning by very wide margins. While HRA’s girls beat ours by 96.5 points, I am pleased to highlight that Seton’s girls, who have won this meet the past eight (8) years in a row, beat the 3rd place team by 174 points. Given the wide margins here, I would think that we have a pretty good indication of the Division II State Championship trophies will be doled out in two (2) weeks.
I’d also like to congratulate the two swimmers who took home Swimmer of the Meet honors: Nicole Piercy and Joey Rento of Hampton Roads Academy. They both swam incredibly well, as did our own DAC stand-out, Reni Moshos from Highland.
Of the 20 teams involved, here’s how the meet scores looked for the top finishers when it was all over:
Hampton Roads Academy 379.5
Seton School 283
Fredericksburg Christian 91.5
Norfolk Christian 91
Hampton Roads Academy 342
Fredericksburg Christian 181
Walsingham Academy 129
Seton School 95
Norfolk Christian 94
Medal Winners for Seton
Like most championship meets, we gave gold, silver and bronze medals, and, even though the competition from HRA was stiffer than ever before at this meet, Seton Swimmers definitely took home their fair share:
- Claire Kenna was our lone gold medalist in what would have seemed to me like the most improbable of ways not two weeks ago – she won the gold medal in 100 Breaststroke with another PR of 1:12.62! Her pull-out off the start was awesome – giving her a lead that she never relingquished. Claire also took two (2) silver medals in the 200 Medley and 200 Free Relay and a 5th place in a very competitive 50 Free event.
- Anna Kenna won three (3) silver medals and a bronze medal. Her silver came in 100 Back behind the former State Champion in the event, Reni Moshos, and she had an individual bronze in 100 Fly. It’s hard for even swimmers as good as Anna to overcome bad coaching – had I put her in 100 Free, she almost certainly would have won gold easily. Oh well. Anna also took two (2) silver medals in the 200 Medley and 200 Free Relay. As usual, her lead-off 50 Backstroke on the Medley Relay was the fastest in the meet by .85 seconds!
- Kimberly Rector won two (2) Silver medals and two (2) Bronze medals. Her individual silver came in the 500 Free where only the eventual Swimmer of the Meet finished ahead of her, and her individual bronze came in the 500 Free where, once again, she had the misfortune of swimming against two of the top four female swimmers in the meet. She also took silver in the 200 Free Relay and Bronze in the 400 Free Relay.
- Alex Sinner won three (3) Silver medals. Alex’s individual Silver medal came in the 200 IM. I mixed it up with her a bit this meet and gave her a shot at 100 Free where she was able to deliver the points for 4th place with a pretty solid swim. And like the Kenna girls, her two other silver medals came in the relays.
- Dani Flook has really been swimming well as a sophomore – on Saturday, she got two (2) bronze medals, one in a very strong performance in the 500 Free and the other in the 400 Free Relay. Her best swim of the meet though was her 4th place finish in the 200 IM where she swam a 6.37 second PR for a State Meet qualifying time of 2:30.31.
Championship Meets are won with relays
In a high school championship meet, relays typically score double the points of an individual events. The traditional depth that we’ve always had at Seton has long been the foundation of many great relays – relays that have been most responsible for our eight (8) state championships and 20 straight conference titles:
- Our Girls 200 Medley Relay of Anna Kenna, Emily Heim, Alex Sinner and Claire Kenna swam their 3rd fastest time of the season to take the Silver medal. So far this season, these girls have the 4th fastest time in the VISAA in this event, so I’d expect them to be in the Championship Final heat at States here.
- Our Girls 200 Free Relay of Anna Kenna, Kimberly Rector, Alex Sinner and Claire Kenna also took the Silver medal, again behind Hampton Roads Academy. We had some very good splits, but Alex Sinner’s split of 26.87 was good enough to bump onto 200 Free “A” Relay on the latest draft of our State Champs entries. So far this season, Seton has the 8th fastest time in the VISAA for this event – and eight (8) relays come back for the Championship Final at States.
- Our Girls 400 Free Relay of Dani Flook, Bridget O’Malley, Emily Heim and Kimberly Rector took the Bronze medal. I wish I had some splits on them because I’m sure some of them were very good, but CTS problems prevented this.
It is clear that future Seton victories are going to be primarily the result of big relay points also, so don’t be surprised if, when you see the entries for States, you see some girls entered in three relays. If we have a girl or may or may not final individually, but they can move a relay up in the finish order in Finals, I definitely plan to take advantage of the opportunity to get all of those points.
The 37 swimmers that we had in this meet swam 33 Personal Records, a number that is really outstanding for this point in the season. And some of them were really amazing:
- Joe Fioramonti just continues to blow me away this season. I let him try the 200 Free because I had an inkling that he might do something really special in the event – and boy was I right. He swam a 44.34 second PR to go 2:20.44 – an really excellent time for a freshman boy! Joe also cut another .68 seconds in 100 Back with some great technique that showed me he was listening in practice this past week.
- Patrick Dealey also continues to give me great optimism for the future of our team. Somehow, he lowered his 200 Free PR by 13.59 seconds! He also cut .32 seconds from his 100 Fly PR.
- John O’Donohue continued the trend for 200 Free PRs with his own 9.54 second PR. Nice work John! Interesting that Coach Zadnik coaches Joe, Patrick and John each morning – is that a common thread to their success?
- I don’t know what the heck got into Josh Miller on Saturday, but he was swimming better than I’ve seen him swim all year. I asked him what he had for breakfast expecting him to say something like creamed corn with his mother, but he just had regular ol’ cereal. So I told him to keep eating that since it helped him cut .84 seconds in 50 Free to go 26.67 and 3.62 seconds in 100 Breast to go 1:16.32! In the 200 Free Relay, he went even faster splitting 26.01!
- I was very pleased with Andrew Quinan’s 500 Free PR. At last year’s DAC Champs, I remember what a great swim he had against great competition, so I know that was a good time for him. We’ll ramping up to this year’s DAC Champs next week, he cut 8.33 seconds off of that time! Andrew also cut 1.36 seconds in 200 Free.
- Tim Costello was awesome in his 100 Free, cutting yet another 2.66 seconds!
- Kalli Dalrymple really had a great day on Saturday with two (2) really big PRs. In 100 Fly, she cut 5.83 seconds and in 200 Free, she cut 3.03 seconds!
- Matthew Fioramonti had three (3) PRs on Saturday. His biggest one came in 200 IM where he dropped a huge 7.64 seconds. He also cut another .40 seconds from his 50 Free PR leading off a free relay and another .02 from his 50 Back PR leading off a medley relay. His 50 Back split was his first time under :30!
- Brian Koehr asked me to take a shot at 100 Fly after we’d been working on it in practice, and he really repaid me for putting him in it. Brian cut a huge 5.16 seconds to go 1:07.18 – great swim Brian! Brian also cut another .06 seconds in 100 Breaststroke.
- Seamus Koehr also took a big swing at 100 Fly with a 5.13 second PR.
- Patrick Hall, how do you drop 1.05 seconds in 50 Free this late in the season?
- Mary Heim had a really big 2.64 second PR in 100 Back – which was predicted in practice by Coach Dalrymple who was singing Mary’s praises to me after spending a morning coaching her lane. Mary also cut .79 seconds in 200 IM.
- Michael Pennefather had a nice PR in 100 Free that has her in the hunt for a position on our State 400 Free “B” Relay. She also lowered her 100 Back PR by 1.78 seconds.
- Martin Quinan lowered his 500 Free PR by 6.61 seconds, but that wasn’t even his best swim. I gave him his first shot at 200 IM, entering him at a 3:00 – he actually went 2:49.12!
- Jude Van de Voorde popped a huge PR in 100 Breast, dropping 3.28 seconds down to 1:13.87.
Here are the rest of the 33 personal records that I have not already mentioned:
- Dominic Wittlinger had a nice swim in 200 IM, cutting 2.16 seconds, and in 100 Free, cutting .95 seconds.
- Andrew Bishop had a nice swim in 100 Free where he lowered his PR by .11 seconds.
- Ashley Cackett cut .11 seconds in 100 Breaststroke.
- Mark Fioramonti lowered his 100 Back PR by .03
- Brendan Santschi dropped .49 seconds in 200 Free.
Am I too Cool?
This past week, I had the good fortune to hear former Seton Captain Ray Bennett speak to The Chief’s senior religion classes about how great it is to be Catholic in the real world. I was struck by so much of what he said, but one part of his talk struck me in particular – especially after watching how some of us let how we feel about some our fellow swimmers affect our attitudes and actions.
Ray told a story of how, in his classes, everyone wanted to sit in a particular row where the “cool” kids sat. It sort of reminded me of watching how the seating arrangements shook out on the bus trip we took down to Richmond this past year. Well one day, Ray noticed a kid in his class who was decidedly uncool. Getting tired of competing for a seat with the cool kids, he decided to step out of his comfort zone and befriend this kid. In the process, Ray learned some valuable lessons:
- He was much happier for being true to himself and serving others. If you have to sit in a certain seat to be accepted into a group, it makes you wonder.
- He was able to have a profound impact on this kid’s life. I don’t know who he was, but Ray described a kid who came out of his shell and started to excel, even socially. In fact, Ray ended the story by saying that this kid eventually got Seton’s top award for living what it means to be a Seton student.
Ray got me thinking about what happens when you pick at least some of your friends based on what you can do for them versus what they can do for you. Even us Coaches and Teachers could do well to remember that, the kids upon whom we can have the most profound impact are not always the most talented. A top student is probably going to be a top student whether or not they have us as a teacher, coach or friend, but the kids who are struggling in some way – maybe academically, maybe athletically or maybe socially – now those are the kids upon whose lives we can have a truly profound impact. But it sometimes takes Courage, and it almost always takes Charity.
Even at a school as Catholic as Seton, you don’t have to look very far to find examples of where the virtue of Charity is trumped by Pride – or Self-Righteousness. Sure, for you swimmers there are kids on the team that bug us for one reason or another, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be friendly with everyone on the team. You never know who’s life you are going to change forever – just by even small acts of selfless kindness.
So in these last two weeks of the season, let’s all make an effort to talk to someone with whom we’ve never talked. Let’s sit next to someone with whom we’ve never sat. Let’s eat lunch next to someone with whom we’ve never eaten. Then let’s ask ourselves how it feels. I think you’ll find that it feels pretty darn cool.
Next Weekend’s DAC Championship Meet
Next weekend is our annual conference championship meet. While the actual team declared conference champion is determined by the regular season (our girls were undefeated again and the conference champion for the 21st straight year), this meet is still a big meet for us. Anyone who finishes in the top 3 will be designated All-Conference. I hope to work on the entries on Monday, and my goal will be three-fold: 1) win, 2) get the maximum number of Seton Swimmers designated All-Conference, and 3) finalize our state team.
Our warm-up is at 1:40 p.m. so we all need to be on deck stretching by 1:09 p.m. There is always traffic on I-95 South, so let’s make sure we all leave plenty of time to arrive. The last time we were down there, many people arrived late.
The State Championship Meet is Friday and Saturday, February 13-14th at the Collegiate Aquatic Center in Richmond
Dani Flook added another state cut in the 200 IM, so with that, our individual entries are pretty much set. Open questions still remain with the relays though.
I published a draft of our State entries last week, and I updated them this morning. I think they are pretty close although the Girls 400 Free “B” Relay has the potential to change quite a bit after DAC Champs.
I’ve e-mailed everyone on the State team with hotel information already. The challenge is that the block of rooms I have expire on February 3rd – that’s this Tuesday already. Sorry, but that’s the best I could do with the Hotel. If you are on the State team, please claim a room from the block before then. And remember, a parent needs to be in every room.
Mrs. Kenna is helping me put together all of the rest of the logistics for the trip to Richmond. As soon as we get them all together, I’ll publish them for you all in one place.
Five (5) more good practices left – let’s make the most of them!
Coach Jim Koehr