What a great meet that was! I’m still excited!

On Saturday afternoon, Seton Swimming faced off against North Stafford High School, a large public school, and Trinity Episcopal School, a VSIS Division I powerhouse from Richmond. In the effort, Seton had 86 new Personal Records (PRs) and another new team record!

The final scores looked like this:


SST      146         NSHS     140

SST      151         TES        135


SST      120         NSHS     166

SST      120         TES        165

It was Seton’s depth in girls that was the difference, especially in the North Stafford meet where the difference in the score was a few 5th, 6th and 7th place finishes that went our way. Looking more closely at the boys results, we really made a good run at them, even without the services of Nevin Cook and Patrick Kenna. (Nevin was swimming in Senior Nationals in Atlanta with Michael Phelps and the other top swimmers in the USA, and Patrick was on the losing end of holiday paint ball game).

New Team Record

Jessica Dunn is in the middle of a taper for a big meet in Baltimore next weekend, so she asked me if she could swim her “off” events. The way she swam, I am beginning to wonder if Jessie has any “off” events. With a super-fast 1:02.21 on 100 Butterfly, Jessica crushed Katie Shipko’s 8-year old record of 1:04.68. She just seemed to get stronger as the race went on.

Most of you never had the chance to watch Katie Shipko swim, but, other than our two All-Americans, she was the most accomplished swimmer in Seton Swimming history, winning multiple individual state championships and garnering Swimmer of the Meet honors at the 1998 State Championship meet. For Jessie to beat any Katie Shipko record by more than 2.5 seconds is an amazing feat. To further put this in perspective, that time would have placed Jessie 6th at last years State Championship meet.

As further evidence of what a well-rounded swimmer Jessie has become, she set a PR in 100 Breast at 1:11.05, easily the fastest time on the team.   That time makes her the second fastest breaststroker in the history of Seton (behind guess who?) So much for “off” events for Jessica Dunn. Congratulations Jessie!

Two Exceptional Swims

  • Sophomore Connor Cook’s 200 Freestyle was one of the best races I’ve seen in a long time. Connor was facing off against a Trinity Episcopal Senior who was leading from the start. I knew we had a fast race on our hands when Connor’s 100 Split flashed up at :54.34, and he was still .6 seconds behind the TES senior. Connor was behind for the entire race until the last length. With 185 yards complete, Connor turned on the jets, caught him, and won by .49 seconds. As if the finish wasn’t exciting enough, I nearly jumped out of my boots when I saw the time: 1:52.61! That was a 5.85 second improvement over his best time last season and just off of brother Nevin’s team record in the event.
  • Sean Koehr has been anchoring our sprint relays since he was a sophomore, but, other than his anchor leg on the silver medal State medley relay in 2006, I’ve never seen him swim better than the anchor leg of Saturday’s 200 FR relay. Trinity led off with the senior that Connor beat in the 200, so they had a pretty good lead. By the time Catfish Dunn touched at the 150, Seton was well behind TES and dead even with North Stafford. That would change quickly. Sean had an amazing start. When he surfaced on the breakout, he already had a half bodylength lead on the poor NSHS swimmer. I relaxed at that point, thinking the dye had been cast – Sean had a different plan. Sean had a great turn (a vastly improved part of his race), and it suddenly became apparent that the race with Trinity was anything but over. With powerful strokes, he walked the TES swimmer down and out-touched him by .29 seconds, securing the victory. Sean’s split? :23.64   Excluding Kevin and Nevin, we haven’t seen anchor splits that fast since Lucy’s brother Ray Bennett was on the back end of our relays – and remember, Sean is not a USA swimmer. I also found out from Sean after the race that he only took 3 breaths – now that is how you swim a 50 Free! You have the rest of the day to breath. Great job Sean!

Team Captains

I was really pleased with the way our new team captains performed this weekend – they did a great job of organizing our warm-up session, getting us lined up for the National Anthem, encouraging other swimmers during the meet, getting the team lined up on the side of the pool cheering, and organizing the post-meet handshake. With all of the positives for their first meet, I was most pleased with two things that I saw:

  • Did anyone else notice Megan Hoffer at the end the lanes encouraging so many swimmers that were completing races for the first time? It’s sometimes very easy to cheer when very accomplished swimmers are in the water, but we had a lot of less accomplished swimmers giving their absolute best efforts in the water, and Icould not have been more pleased that Megan was up close and personal, watching it all
  • I was also very pleased with the way other swimmers, especially past team captains like Lea Mazzoccoli, jumped in to help out.   Maybe they were a little more in the background this time, but they are quickly finding a nice balance between leader and follower on our team. Everyone on the team has an opportunity to find this balance, and I hope you all seek it out.

Personal Records

The personal records were flowing on Saturday. If we would have had baseline times for all of our swimmers, I think our total of 86 PRs could have been over 100. One of the most exciting things as a coach is to see a kid improve – it was an exciting day:

  • Sarah Zapiain had three PRs! She cut almost 19 seconds from her 200 IM, 5.41 seconds from her 100 Fly and .21 seconds from her 50 back leading off the medley relay. Notice also that she actually swam 200 IM and 100 Fly, two of the most difficult events in the meet.
  • Leslie Zapiain has been out of the water with mono for most of the season, but somehow managed to set a PR in 50 Free by .14 seconds.
  • Bridget Wunderly had a very nice swim in 200 IM. She cut nearly 1 second from her previous best time.
  • Matthew Verry cut almost 24 seconds from his 500 Free and scored a point against TES in the process. He also cut 4.63 seconds off his 100 Breaststroke and 1.08 seconds in the 100 Free lead-off leg of the 400 Free relay.
  • Laura Talbott showed her strength in middle distance freestyle by lowering her PR in 200 Free by almost 10 seconds. She also lowered her 50 Free PR.
  • Nicki Smith had two PRs in 500 Free, by 12.83 seconds, and in 100 Back, by .77 seconds.
  • Sister Lexi Smith cut nearly 6 seconds from her 100 Breaststroke
  • Daniella Sinner, in spite of shoulder troubles, managed to lower her 50 Free PR by .36 seconds
  • Steven Shaw is going to be a good swimmer for us. He cut his 50 Free PR by 1.39 seconds and his 100 Back PR by 1.78 seconds. If he weren’t in 7th grade, he would have scored at Saturday’s meet.
  • Krista Shaw lowered her best time in 50 back leading off the medley relay by almost a second
  • Lizzie Rogers had two PRs. The first came in 100 Free where she cut 2.91 seconds and the second came in 100 Back where she cut a similar 2.89 seconds.
  • Cat Rogers had a great meet with 3 PRs. Cat lowered her 50 Free time by 2.65 seconds, her 100 Back time by 7.45 seconds and her 100 Free time (leading off the 400 FR relay) by .42 seconds.
  • Peter Quinan had all of his questions answered when he cut 11.97 seconds from his 50 Free and 27.04 seconds from his 100 Back!
  • Michael O’Donohue scored a point in 500 Free after lowering his previous best time by almost 48 seconds. He also cut nearly 1 second from his 50 Free.
  • Michael O’Donnell really worked hard this week to lower his 50 Free by 3.33 seconds. “Long and strong” Michael!
  • Maggie Murphy smiled her way to two more PRs with a 3.9 second improvement in 100 Breast and a 1.75 second improvement in 50 Free.
  • Monica Mosimann cut 2.45 seconds from her previous best 100 Free while leading off the 400 Free relay
  • Meghan Morch stepped into her new role as captain with three PRs. She improved her very fast 50 Free by .06, her 100 Fly by 1.66 and her 100 Free by 1.63.   She’s very close to breaking a minute in 100 Free. Next week Meghan!
  • Peter Mooney got the job done with PRs in 50 Free (by 2.33 seconds) and 100 Back (by 10.43 seconds!)
  • Kimberley Melnyk broke the 1:10 barrier in 100 Back with a 1.4 second PR.
  • Lea Mazzoccoli had a nice race in 200 IM and earned a .73 second PR. Her front half was only 1:09!
  • Hannah Lowell just continues to improve, this time with a 2.46 second PR in 50 Free
  • Sarah Locke had a 3 PR meet with best times in 50 Back leading off the medley (by 2.23 seconds), 500 Free (by 8.72 seconds), and in 100 Free leading off the 400 Free relay (by .32 seconds)
  • Rachel Lambrecht lowered her 200 IM by an amazing 15.41 seconds. She also cut another 1.49 seconds from her 100 Breaststroke
  • David Lambrecht PR’d in both of his individual events. He cut over 8 seconds from his 100 Free and nearly 1 second from his 100 Back.
  • Thomas Kosten is getting the hang of things. He had a PR in 50 Free (by .99 seconds) and in 100 Back (by 1.99 seconds)
  • Senior Kate Kosten cut another .99 seconds in 50 Free
  • Daniel Koehr’s 100 Free is getting faster – this time he cut another half second.
  • Brendan Koehr talked his way to two big PRs.   One in 50 Free by 3.5 seconds and the other in 100 Back by 4.56 seconds!
  • Rocky Kleb improved his 50 Free by a second and his 100 back by 6.64 seconds.
  • Mary-Kate Kenna keeps getting faster.   On Saturday, she cut 1.8 seconds from her 100 Breaststroke and nearly broke 1:15!
  • Jonathan Jacobeen can do more than sell lots of fruit. He swam three big PRs in 100 Back (by 4.53 seconds), 50 Free (by .78 seconds), and 100 Free leading off a relay (by .61 seconds)
  • Eileen Heim lowered her 50 Free time by more than 4 seconds!
  • David Harris had a nice meet, lowering his 500 Free time by 7.64 seconds.
  • Alex Harrill continues to get better. He cut 5.4 seconds from his 50 Free.
  • Catfish Dunn continues to drop time every time he touches the water. In 200 Free on Saturday, he cut over 11 seconds from his best time last season
  • We may have found an event for Alex Doonis’ future. She cut nearly 1 second from her 200 Free, and her time is starting to get very competitive. Her 100 split was a very fast 1:01.21. As she improves her conditioning, she can get that 2nd 100 split down also.   Keep going out fast Alex – the 200 is a sprint!
  • I decided to see what freshman Lauren Donohoe could do in the 500 Free, and I wasn’t disappointed. She lowered her previous best time by 22 seconds and swam a very fast 5:51.
  • Nice work on that 200 Free Judith Cummings! Judith lowered her best time last season by 1.13 seconds
  • Alex Cummings swam the difficult 200 IM and dropped 10.52 seconds from her previous best!
  • Eileen Corkery lowered her 100 Back time by a half a second
  • Connor Cook not only did his PR in 200 Free, but he also cut over 1 second in 100 Fly and just barely missed breaking a minute!
  • Michael Collins is showed the results of his work in practice when he cut 5.51 seconds from his 50 Free time
  • Carolyn Claybrooks is hitting her stride. She got her 500 Free time down by 2.4 seconds to a level fast enough to qualify for States! She also cut her 50 Free time by .29 seconds.
  • Monica Byers challenged 100 Fly and won. She lowered her previous best by over 4 seconds.
  • Kevin Bliss did some nice work this weekend.   Kevin dropped 15.24 seconds in 100 Back and 8.87 seconds in 50 Free
  • Greg Bliss lowered his 100 Free time by 1.51 seconds. If he keeps working on his stroke, he’ll get to the point where we can use him on our relays.
  • Lucy Bennett had to be pleased when she dropped 6.82 seconds from her 200 IM and .87 seconds from her 100 Fly.
  • New captain Sean Bartnick cut over 10 seconds from his 100 backstroke and 1.61 seconds from his 100 Free. A year and a half ago, Sean was not a very strong swimmer – now he swims 100 Free in :58.77! Like Tony Minarik in year’s past, it makes you wonder what could have happened if he would have started swimming in 7th grade!?
  • Emily Adamec did a nice job when she lowered her 50 back time leading off the medley relay by 3.68 seconds.

Wow! That was a lot of PRs – I need to take a break – but I’ll keep going because there were so many other great things that I saw on Saturday……….

Other Great Swims

I was keeping notes on my meet sheet about the great things I saw happening, and I felt like I was writing something down nearly every heat:

  • Daniel Koehr took our work on the backstroke breakout to heart. He broke out on the start of that medley relay like a nuclear submarine – it was beautiful to see! Daniel also had a great 100 Free, just out-touching North Stafford’s top swimmer.
  • The best backstrokers are really good underwater off the start and off of each wall. Bridget Wunderly is really sweet underwater.   Everyone should watch her race the next time she is in the water. Joe Ross was standing next to me and said that Bridget reminded her of Kevin Koehr.   Beyond their underwaters, I personally don’t see much of a resemblance;-) Bridget can also swim breaststroke, as she proved during her 200 IM.
  • In the 200 Medley, Bernadette Wunderly and Shannon Kerns had very nice swims on the Fly and Free legs of the race. They almost caught the NSHS relay next to them.
  • Vincent “Catfish” Dunn out-touched NSHS’s top 200 Freestyler by .06 seconds right at the end of the race! Winning the close races is a sign of a good swimmer, and Catfish is a good swimmer.
  • I understand from my boys that Peter Mooney really took a hard hit at the boys basketball game the night before the meet. It was causing pain in his hip, but that didn’t stop him from challenging the 200 Free for his first time ever.
  • I really enjoyed watching Sarah Welsh, Judith Cummings, Lexy Smith, and Monica Mosimann in the 200 Free. You could really see all four of them trying to get into the “skate” position with each stroke – just like in practice!
  • Does anyone put more heart into a race than Christian Vestermark? Nice work on that 200 IM Christian.
  • Andrew Minarik took one for the team on Saturday. Andrew is relatively new to swimming, but he has shown tremendous improvement over last season. I needed someone to swim 200 IM and 100 Fly. I was at my desk trying to figure out who, when I realized that I really wanted to know how he’d do in those events anyway.   Andrew did not disappoint! And thank you Nicki Smith who was screaming her head off right next to me while Andrew was in the water.
  • By a quirk of the seeding system, Sarah Zapiain and Keeley Cook ended up in lanes 9 and 10, right next to where I was standing, for both the 200 IM and the 100 Fly. Both of these middle-schoolers are excellent swimmers, so all I could see was them racing in 4 years and thinking of how fun it will be with them at States. I also couldn’t help but tell the other coaches that we were watching the “clash of the Titans”!
  • Alex Cummings had a very nice finish in the 200 IM.   She also had some nice streamlines off the wall in 100 Fly.
  • Besides Nevin Cook, I have to think that Sean Koehr has the fastest starts on the team. The fast heat of boys 50 free was over from the blocks.
  • I can start to see Lauren Donohoe work on the things we are talking about in practice. Coach Lowell has some video of her race that I’m looking forward to having her watch.   She is going to be very, very fast if she takes his good words to heart.
  • Cat Rogers was just eating up some water in the 50 Free.
  • Who would let a little case of mono slow them down? Not Leslie Zapiain! Back in the water only one day, she did her best time ever in 50 Free!
  • Eileen Corkery really swam hard in the 100 Free.
  • We will always need swimmers to step up and do the 500 Free for us. This week, I was really pleased that Matthew Verry, Michael O’Donohue, Hannah Lowell and Nicki Smith joined the elite group of swimmers who I can call on to fight for Seton in this race.
  • Sarah Locke has some more experience swimming the 500.   She just seems to get stronger as she goes. In fact, she negative split the race. Next time Sarah, we’re really going to push that 2nd and 4th
  • By the time we got to the girls 200 Free Relay, the meet with North Stafford was very close – they were ahead by only 3 points.   It was time for Alex Doonis, Meghan Morch, Lauren Donohoe, and Jessica Dunn to take charge. Those 4 really rocked, but the depth of team became obvious when I saw that their main competition was our “B” relay of Laura Talbott, Mary-Kate Kenna, Casey Flanagan, and Alex Cummings. Those two relays swept and we won that event over both TES and NSHS 15 to 3!
  • Maggie Murphy had a great finish on her anchor leg of the 200 Free relay and also out-touched an NSHS girl in 100 Breaststroke. Two great finishes in one meet makes a great meet for Maggie!
  • Catfish Dunn is starting to develop a really nice backstroke breakout – not quite a nuclear submarine, but definitely getting there.
  • We spent a lot of time in practice this past week on backstroke. It was very enjoyable to watch Alex Harrill, Peter Quinan, Michael Collins, and Jack Corkery (who won his heat!) try to apply the lessons they’ve been learning. Job 1 is to get your head position correct, and all four of them were doing a very nice job with that. Bernadette Wunderly was doing a nice job with backstroke also.
  • I think Shannon Kerns is going to be a really fine swimmer for Seton one day.
  • I’d have to say that Matthew Verry has some pretty good potential in breaststroke.
  • The final individual event of the meet is 100 Breaststroke. We actually won the meet over North Stafford here when Jessie Dunn and Mary-Kate Kenna went first and second over the top NSHS swimmer. Combined with Rachel Lambrecht’s 5th, we won that event 17 to 12 and sealed the victory. All three of them swam PRs.
  • And wasn’t it a great ending to the meet when everyone was lining up for the post-meet handshake, and, there in the pool right by all of us was Eileen Heim having the race of her life on the anchor leg of the 400 Free relay. The cheering was so loud that you would have thought it was the State Championship at stake.   Well, if it was, then Eileen delivered by beating out her opponent! Way to go Eileen – thanks for helping us all end the meet on such a high note.

Opportunities to Improve

With so many great things that happened on Saturday, I still wanted to mention a few areas where we need to improve:

  • I had to stop counting the number of swimmers who took a breath right out of their turn.
  • Even worse, at least to your prospects of swimming fast, were the number of people who took a breath right off of the start. It’s like putting the brakes on.
  • Just remember what I said about Sean’s swim above: You have all day to breath – there’s no need to breath very often during a 50, and we should all really try not to breath off the walls when our momentum is the greatest
  • You can count on working this problem in practice this week.

State Meet Qualifiers

I’ll send a separate e-mail that details all of the swimmers who have qualified for the State Champs and the National Catholic HS Champs, but I’ll highlight those who qualified for an event for the 1st time this past weekend:

  • Carolyn Claybrooks 500 Free just got under the State Champ cut
  • Lauren Donohoe also made the State Champ cut in the 500 Free, as well as the 50 Free
  • Kimberley Melnyk – by breaking the 1:10 barrier in 100 Backstroke and made the cut for both meets
  • Meghan Morch got under the wire for the State Champs in 100 Free, and she is very close to the National Catholic cut
  • Laura Talbott had a great 200 Free, making the cut for both meets
  • Connor Cook’s amazing 200 Free made a very fast cut for the National Catholic meet

Our relays swam fast enough to ensure that Seton will be able to enter all 6 relays at the State meet this year. We need to add folks to these teams. We have a State Championship to win!

Meet Organization

After the meet, my wife made the comment that she has been to a lot of USA Swimming meets that were not as well run as our little high school meet. I think that was a big part of the reason that the meet was so much fun for me and the kids. There are too many people to thank, but I wanted to mention that Phil Quinan did a really great job with Lynn Dunn stepping in for Chris Cook who was out of town with Nevin. John Wunderly and Kathryn Vestermark fought the beast we call CTS. Ray Kenna, Julie Mazzoccoli and Tracey Harris ran the starter’s area like pro’s. The CHT, Tom Minarik, and Brad Basinger ensured that the backup timing went off without a hitch. All of the parents that took the time to get qualified as stroke and turn judges are very much appreciated, as are those that volunteered to time. And finally, the new “Voice of Seton Swimming”, Art Bennett, made his debut as our meet announcer. (I told him it was a volunteer job that came with a chair).

And finally, our coaching staff has come together quite nicely. With the recent addition of Richard Lowell and Connie Zapiain, together with DD Ross, Barbara Claybrooks, and Karen Hoffer, Seton Swimming is able to actually “coach” the 76 kids that are currently on this team. Thank you coaches for the great work that you do!

Upcoming Meets

We have three meets left in December. On the 8th we are swimming against Brentsville and a collection of other small teams at Freedom. On the Friday night the 14th, we will be swimming our first Northern Virginia Swimming Conference (NVSC) meet at the new WARF in Warrenton. Then, on the next day, we’ll be back at Freedom for our focus meet for December against Peninsula Catholic High School and Stonebridge School.   Both of these schools challenged us the last two years for the Division II title at States so I’d really like to bring our “A” game to that meet.

Please let me know if you will be unable to attend any of these meets. All three of them should be a lot of fun!


This week in practice, we’ll try to work on flip turns and relay starts.   Then next week, we’ll start to build everyone’s breaststroke from scratch. If we improve in Breaststroke the way we have improved in Free and Back, we will have many more great meets in our future.

See you all tomorrow morning,

Coach Koehr


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