“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.  So began Dicken’s classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities.  It could just as easily have described our evening Saturday night as the Seton Swim Team faced off against Bishop Ireton of Alexandria and Division I powerhouse Collegiate School of Richmond.  The swimming was great, the automatic timing system wasn’t.  The volunteer timers were great, the Seton Head Coach’s plan to have only one backup watch on each lane wasn’t.  After spending some time looking at the results however, it is easy to see many more good times than bad.

The scores between us and Collegiate were as expected, and so was the Bishop Ireton boys score.  This was especially true considering that 4 of our top swimmers were at big USA meets.  There were some very fast swimmers in the water on Saturday night.  The surprise came in the girls score against Bishop Ireton.  When Mrs. Dunn got all of the scores tallied, we had won by only 4 points!  Ireton has 809 kids in their high school.  We have only 248.  Not a bad showing for little Seton.  Here are the final tallies:


SST      156                  Ireton              152

SST      118                  Collegiate        190


SST      103                  Ireton              201

SST      72                    Collegiate        227

New Championship Meet Qualifiers

One of our focuses for this meet was to get some more qualifiers for the Virginia State Championship meet at Hargrave Military Academy and the National Catholic HS Championships at Villanova University.  We were successful:

–          Mary-Kate Kenna cut 1.07 seconds from her 100 Free to get under the bar for the Catholic Nationals.  She swam a 1:01.28.  The State cut in this event is faster, but within her range.  The cut is 1:00.43.  I think she can do it.  Mary-Kate has previously qualified in 4 events for States and 3 events for Catholic Nationals

–          Kimberley Melnyk dropped .59 seconds in 100 Fly to qualify for States.  The National Catholic cut is 1:10.50, and we’re spending this week in practice on Fly.  Kimberley has already qualified in the 500 Free for States and the 50 Free for Catholic Nationals.

–          Danielle Smith made the most of her opportunity to qualify for States in the 200 IM, lowering her time by 1.67 seconds to qualify by just .15 seconds.   Her 1:35.77 is also very close to the 1:35.00 cut for Catholic Nationals.  Danielle had previously qualified for States in 200 Free.

Let’s keep on eye on a few other events where we have swimmers close to qualifying times:

–          Carolyn Claybrooks is knocking on a couple of doors trying to get in.  Her 28.60 in 50 Free this week is on .1 seconds from the Catholic National cut.  She also swam a 2:19.58 in 200 Free.  Her continued improvement makes me think she can hit the 2:16.97 cut.  She’s already qualified for States in the 500 Free.

–          Meghan Morch’s 2:36.76 is pretty close to the 2:35.98 cut for 200 IM at States.  We’d love to take her with us!  She has the Catholic National cut in 50 Free, but so does 8 other girls, and I only get 4 entries.  Let’s play it safe Meghan and get another cut!

–          Laura Talbott’s 1:12.10 in 100 Fly is ever so close to the State cut of 1:11.61.  Her 100 Breaststroke time of 1:18.97 is within .54 seconds of the State time and .97 seconds of the Catholic National time.   Laura has already qualified in 2 events each for States and Catholic Nationals, but like Meghan, one of the National cuts is in the 50 Free.  We need another one!

–          Sean Koehr has qualified for States and Catholic Nationals in 50 Free and 100 Breast.  Now he’s working on 100 Free where is new 55.79 is starting to get close to the 54.96 cut.

–          Danielle Smith has some unfinished work in the 500 Free where her 6:20.07 is starting to get pretty close to the 6:17.88 State cut.

–          Daniel Koehr continues to improve in 100 Back.  He’s down to 1:07.17, but needs to lower his time another 1.39 seconds to get the State cut.  I think it can happened with an improved body dolphin off of the walls.  Brother Kevin has the assignment to work with him over break.

–          Kimberley Melnyk and Bridget Wunderly are both approaching the State and Catholic National 100 Backstroke cuts of 1:10.16 and 1:10.00 respectively.  Kimberley has gone 1:10.51 and Bridget has gone 1:10.56.  Kimberley already has 2 cuts for States, but her only National cut is in the 50 Free.  Bridget has qualified in the 200 IM for both meets.

If you weren’t mentioned in this short list, it does not mean you are out of the hunt.  There’s still time to get your times within striking distance!

Personal Records

As usual, we had a lot of new personal records this week.  I’ll start at the bottom of the alphabet this time so the Zapiain and Wunderly girls don’t start to get a complex:

–          Sarah Zapiain swam two events and got two PRs.  She cut .58 seconds from her 100 Free and .22 seconds from her 50 Free

–          Leslie Zapiain dropped over 4 seconds in her 200 IM!

–          Bridget Wunderly’s 200 IM time is starting to get quite fast, especially considering that she is only in 8th grade.  She cut another half second to get it down to 2:31.89

–          Christian Vestermark somehow managed to cut over 55 seconds from his 200 IM!  While he was at it, he cut 3.33 seconds from his 100 Free.  Wow!

–          Matthew Verry’s work with Coach Hoffer paid dividends with a PR in 100 Free.  Nice job Matthew.

–          Grace Van de Voorde cut nearly 2 seconds from her 100 Free.

–          Nicki Smith was so excited after her 100 Free.  I was running around, distracted by the troubles with the timing system when I felt a little tap on my shoulder.  When I turned around, I saw a huge smile on Nicki’s face – “Coach Koehr, I dropped 9.58 seconds from my 100 Free!”  I think that may have been the highlight of the meet for me.  Reminds you why you are there.  Great job Nicki – and thanks.

–          The other Smith girl, Danielle, had some great swims also.  How about that 3.18 second PR in the 500 Free and 1.67 second PR in 200 IM?

–          Krista Shaw is starting to look pretty good.  She cut almost 6 seconds from her 200 IM

–          John Ross used a real-live flutter kick during the first half of his 100 Free and cut over 2 seconds from his time.  Hey John, are there another 2 seconds in the 2nd 50?

–          Joe Ross continued his streak of PRs.  This time he cut over 8 seconds from his 500 Free and over 4 seconds from his 200 Free.

–          Maggie Murphy did a nice job in cutting a half second from her 50 Free

–          Can Andrew Minarik follow in his brother’s footsteps?  He’s sure trying.  He lowered his 50 Free time by over 8 seconds!

–          Kimberley Melnyk cut .59 seconds from her 100 Fly

–          Hannah Lowell is starting to make the transition from Cross Country to swimming.  He lowered her 100 Free time by nearly 15 seconds!  Before that, she had already dropped her 50 Free time by over 3 seconds.  Time to get your old man in the pool, Hannah.

–          Sarah Locke dropped her 100 back time by another half second.  Once she starts rolling her hips a bit sooner, who knows how fast she can go.

–          Sean Koehr cut .32 seconds from his 100 Free as he approaches his mother’s best 100 Free time.   He’s got another .59 seconds to cut if he wants to beat her 55.20 from her old Spring Valley High School days.  (She’s due to have her 12th baby this week, and she swam a 3,000 yard masters team practice on Saturday!)

–          Daniel Koehr continues to see the results of his outstanding work ethic in practice.  He dropped 3.20 seconds from his 200 IM and cut some more time from his 100 Free.

–          Kelsey Kleb gave the 200 IM a shot for the first time this season and cut nearly 18 seconds!

–          Patrick Kenna is going to be a good one for Seton.  This 8th grader lowered his 200 Free time by over 21 seconds

–          Mary-Kate Kenna swam two events, had two PRs in 100 Free and 100 Breast.  It was great to see her excitement at cutting over 1 second from her 100 Free to qualify for Catholic Nationals.

–          Jonathan Jacobeen is a first time swimmer at Seton and is really improving.  He dropped almost 3 seconds from his 50 Free.

–          Megan “no ‘h’” Hoffer had 2 PRs in her two events including a 1.39 second PR in 100 back and a .25 second PR in 100 Fly.

–          David Harris just seems to get steadily better at every meet.  He had another 2 PRs including a 2.17 second improvement in 100 Breaststroke and another .73 second improvement in 100 Fly.

–          Casey Flanagan also seems to drop time whenever she touches the water.  This time she cut .88 seconds from her 50 Free and.64 seconds from her 100 Free.

–          Ann Duran had a nice 100 Free, lowering her previous best time by over 2 seconds.

–          Vincent “Catfish” Dunn cut nearly a half second from his 100 Free.

–          Billy Corkery tried to relive past glory in the 500 Free and lowered his time by over 16 seconds.  He also cut .67 seconds from his 200 IM.

–          We already referenced Carolyn Claybrooks 2 PR performance in the 50 and 200 Free.  I think she’s going to be a good one.

–          Greg Bliss got the motor running in the 50 Free and somehow cut 1.21 seconds.  I think he can go even faster.

–          Sean Bartnick improved his 50 Free time – again.  This time he cut .21 seconds to get it down to 27.18.  He’s about to break that 27 second barrier.

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Sometimes, it can be very intimidating to try a difficult event for the first time in front of a big crowd like we had on Saturday night.  I’d like to note some of the swimmers who swam some of the most difficult events for the first time in their swimming careers:

–          Kevin Bliss tried the 100 Back

–          Joe Duran (6th grader) swam the 100 Fly.  He told me that he couldn’t do it, but I knew he could!

–          Peter Duran raced in the 200 Free

–          Christian Kleb had a nice race in 100 back and dove off the blocks in the 50 free for only the 2nd time in a meet.  Every time he does it, it gets better!

–          Brendan Koehr got the double whammy of 200 Free and 100 Fly and did great in both

–          Rachel Lambrecht did a nice job in her first 200 Free

–          Paul Laudiero did a nice job with the 200 Free.  Next time, we’ll try the 500.

–          Andrew Minarik tried 100 Back for the 1st time.

–          Michael O’Donohue went all out to try both the 200 IM and 100 Fly for the 1st time.

–          Sam Quinan took a stab at the 200 IM

–          Jonathan Rosato tried the 200 Free

–          Daniela Sinner gave the 100 Fly a first try

It was interesting to see a few more swimmers than usual come up to me before their races and tell me that they were going to do poorly.  Naturally, that is exactly what happened.  We all have to learn to get out of our comfort zone and believe that we can do well, even when the task at hand seems difficult or the conditions don’t seem right.  If you don’t believe in yourself, how can anyone else believe in you?  In the future, there’s no need to try to get me to excuse you from giving your 100% best effort every time.

Other Great Swims

There are always so many great swims that don’t always get noticed during a meet.  Here are a few of them:

–          Speaking of out of your comfort zone.  Katie Planchak had quite a race in the 200 Free where she took 2nd.  She also won the 500 Free.  She probably doesn’t agree, but I think it is great to get sprinters into middle distance events every once in a while.

–          Lea Mazzoccoli took 2nd in 100 Fly, losing only to a girl from Collegiate

–          It’s not the usual line-up with Mary-Kate Kenna in the middle lane for the 100 Free, but she really stepped up to the task to take 2nd place overall.  It took her best time to get the job done for us.

–          Brendan Koehr really looked smooth during the first portion of his 200 Free.

–          Jonathan Rosato was in the same 200 Free race, and as Coach Mulhern often says, he was looking “long and strong!”

–          Alex Cummings had a really nice finish in the 200 Free.  We worked on that a little in practice, but we need to see more finishes like Alex’s.  Alex also started to find her kick on the 100 Free.

–          Daniel Koehr was very quick off the start in the 200 IM.  Textbook.

–          Billy Corkery’s 200 IM was really great, especially the first 50 – where did you get that Fly Billy?

–          Christian Vestermark is starting figure out the butterfly.  In the 200 IM, he had a nice Fly leg when he was pushing his chest down and his head forward.  He was tied at the 150, but blew the Ireton swimmer away on the last 50.  He really looked strong.

–          Krista Shaw had a great race in the 200 IM, almost outtouching a fast girl from Ireton.

–          Sean Bartnick was the top Seton finisher in the 50 Free.  Where have you been!?

–          Few things were as fun as watching Joe Duran, Brendan Koehr and Michael O’Donohue get baptized in swimming by the 100 Fly.

–          Ann Duran had a nice start in the 100 Free.  Must be that soccer training.  Now for the turns………..

–          Billy Corkery’s seed time in the 500 was very close to the Ireton swimmer a couple of lanes over.  I told him to try to take the lead early in the race on one of the turns when the Ireton swimmer couldn’t see him.  Billy didn’t wait for that. He just went out to a big lead that he never relinquished.  The race was over after the first 100.

–          Danielle Smith swam the 500 the way is it supposed to be swum.  She was turning over (moving her arms fast) the entire race.  She treated like a controlled sprint.  She even finished the race with a textbook finish, reaching on her side and arching her back.

–          Our girls 200 Free relay beat both Collegiate and Ireton’s A Relays.  Laura Talbott, Meghan Morch, Lea Mazzoccoli, and Katie Planchak scored what could have been the winning points over Ireton.

–          Krista Shaw was showing a very streamlined position as she swam a modified catch-up freestyle on the first leg of her 200 Free relay.  She was also rolling very nicely.

–          Megan Hoffer has been listening in practice.  Her roll on backstroke was excellent.

–          Sam Quinan’s breaststroke is looking pretty good these days.

–          It was great to see Jonathan Jacobeen keep his head down and shoot forward on his breaststroke.

–          Rachel Lambrecht and Leslie Zapiain were also shooting forward nicely on their breaststrokes.

–          It was fun watching our boys 400 Free relay race next to Ireton’s.  They were right next to each other for most of the race.  At one point, Billy Corkery came out of a turn right next to the lane line and so the did the Ireton swimmer.  Their faces were right next to each other!

–          Joe Ross had a nice kick going on his leg of the 400 Free relay.  Less breathing during the race helped in the first 25 also.

–          I wish I had good splits on the girls 400 Free relay.  Carolyn Claybrooks led off the “B” relay and beat the “A” relay.  Catherine Nuar also looked very strong.

Final Thoughts

Thank you so much to all of the folks that stepped in when the Colorado Timing System failed.  It was a difficult situation, but I particularly appreciate how Brad Basinger, Lynn Dunn, John Wunderly, Kathryn Vestermark and Susan Cummings made it happen.  Thank you also to Charles Seltman, Joe Planchak and Ray Kenna for getting the meet back on schedule.

Our next meet is against Paul VI and The Heights at Freedom on Saturday, January 6th.  Plan on being there by 4:00 p.m. for 4:15 stretching and a 4:30 p.m. warm-up.  We’ll be back at full strength so let’s make a good showing against the defending Division I State Champion.

Coach Koehr

P.S.  If you ever need to get a hold of me, feel free to call my cell phone at 540-379-8328.  Because of the demographics of my household and the schedule that I keep, calling my home phone will not generally get you the results that you desire.

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