Seton Swimming returns from the 2005 VSIS State Championship with a State Champion, 2 All-State Honorees, an High School All-American Consideration swimmer, and eight top-8 finishes. The Boys finished 9th overall and the girls finished 14th. Our 9th place finish is the best-ever showing for Seton Swimming. Coach Mulhern also made his High School Swimming debut with a wildly popular rendition of the National Anthem. Not a bad weekend’s work.
- In one of the most amazing races that I have seen in a long time, Freshman Nevin Cook won the State Championship in 100 Breaststroke! Nevin won the race by a mere .01 seconds over the top seed from Hampton Roads Academy. Nevin entered the meet seeded 2nd. He had a tremendous swim in the Preliminaries where he dropped his time by over half a second to a new Seton Record of 1:02.42. In my video, there was no one else even in the picture at the end, including Ben Gillette from Highland. This swim earned Nevin the top seed in Saturday night’s finals.
In the finals Nevin took the lead immediately with a tremendously fast start. He built his lead into the turn at 50 yards – his split was a blazing 29.41. His lead began to slip at 75 yards and seem to disappear with 10 yards to go. The place was going to crazy. Both Nevin and his opponent approached the finish on an odd stroke – the HRA swimmer took another short stroke and Nevin made a long reach to the wall. We all looked up at the board – lane 4 (Nevin) was 1:02.62 and lane 5 was 1:02.63 – Victory! How close is .01 seconds? Nevin has bruises on the inside of each knee that resulted from the power with which his legs came together on his final kick to the wall.
- Kevin Koehr also had the swim of his life, finishing 2nd in the State for 100 Backstroke to the eventual winner of the State’s Most Outstanding Swimmer award. Like Nevin, Kevin had a tremendous swim in prelims, smashing his opponents and entering the finals as the top seed with a Seton and personal record :53.41. Kevin’s primary opponent was the very well know defending State Champion, Bryan Pinkston. Pinkston had broken his own State record in 100 Butterfly the night before (:50.01) and a surprising number of coaches approached Kevin with words of encouragement for the “underdog”.
In the finals, we all knew that Kevin was much faster on top of the water and Pinkston was much faster off of the walls where his butterfly body dolphin was so strong. The very exciting race went back and forth. Pinkston led off the start and Kevin beat him into the first turn. Pinkston took the lead off of the 2nd turn and Kevin beat him to the 50. Kevin’s 50 split was an incredible 25.75. Splits in the 100 are measured after the flip turn when your feet touch the wall, so this may have been his fastest 50 yard backstroke ever. (His fastest 50 backstroke ever was swum the day before in the relay at 25.30.) After the second turn, the pattern repeated with Pinkston taking the lead. They went into the final wall at exactly the same time. This time however, Pinkston’s body dolphin got a large enough lead that Kevin just couldn’t make up the deficit. He finished the best race of his life with a personal best :53.25, earning All-State honors with a 2nd place.
With this improvement, Kevin lowered his High School All-American consideration time and improved his chance receiving All-American honors.
- Sophomore Katie Planchak also had a great meet, taking 4th place in the 50 Free. During prelims, her awesome start and turn and her improved turnover lead Katie to a Seton record and personal best 25.74 and a 3rd seed going into finals. This was the first time that Katie broke the very difficult 26 second barrier. In the finals, all 8 swimmers were seeded within 1 second so everyone knew that it would be very exciting. In the finals, Katie had a good start and a great turn. She lowered her time again, this time down to :25.52. It was good enough for 4th place in the State. Two of the finishers ahead of her were seniors and the other was Keri Jones from FCS. The DAC looks strong for next year’s 50 Free. Katie is only .3 seconds behind Jones so the stage is set for 2006.
- Our Boys 200 Medley Relay definitely overachieved with a 4th place in the State. In both the prelims and then finals, Kevin and Nevin had the fastest 100 split in the State, but that left Bryan Morch and freshman Sean Koehr to fast the fastest butterfliers and freestylers in the entire state. They both took the challenge. Bryan Morch had to face a boy (man?) who took only 5 strokes in the first 25 yards of his 50 Fly. Bryan still came up with a amazing 25.50 split – easily his fastest split ever. Then Sean entered the churning whitewater and swam his fastest time ever – 24.40, holding on to 4th place. We finished with a new Seton record of 1:43.47, almost 3 seconds faster than last year’s record setting boys medley and easily the fastest time in Prince William County, public or private. There are two other exciting aspects of this race: 1) they beat the Paul VI boys medley relay! 2) this relay consists of 2 juniors and 2 freshman!
- Our Girls 200 Free Relay leaped from 8th in the prelims up to 4th in the finals with some tremendous splits and a new Seton record. We swam the relay in the prelims with Katie as the lead-off swimmer, Melissa and Jessica Dunn in the middle, and Senior Meg Seale at the anchor. I often like to swim the fastest leg first so that we can get clean water for the rest of the relay, but it seemed that I was the only one who preferred to do it that way. Finally, I had no choice to swim Katie at the anchor when her Grandmother told me that was how I had to do it. How can you go against that? And it worked! Meg lead off with a strong 27.07, then Melissa did the fastest split of her life at 26.60 followed by her sister Jessica with a blazing 26.05. Katie entered the water in 7th place and started walking people down. She finished the anchor leg with a 25.30 split. We all looked up at the board saw that she had jumped Seton up to 4th place with a new Seton record 1:45.02. That beat the very fast former Seton record held by Lauren Dobak, Jennifer Planchak, Meg Seale and Katie Shipko by 1.6 seconds!
- Our final two individual top 8 finishes came from Kevin and Nevin in the 200 IM where they finished 5th and 7th respectively. Nevin entered the finals seeded 7th, ahead of Kevin, who entered seeded 8th. During prelims, Nevin dropped his personal best time by 2 seconds! In the finals Nevin dropped his time again to what would have been a new Seton record of 2:07.91, except for the fact that 2 seconds earlier, Kevin had lowered the record by almost 2 seconds to a 2:05.64. Kevin went into the final 50 yard freestyle in 8th place, kicked in with a 27.83 freestyle split and jumped up to 5th. He had worked out a strategy with Coach Mulhern to swim the backstroke leg a little smoother to improve his ability to swim the breaststroke and freestyle legs. The strategy worked. 200 IM is probably the best measure of a swimmers overall ability, since it requires all 4 strokes. Little ol’ Seton has 2 of the top 8 fastest swimmers in the State in this event. Not to shabby.
- We had one more top 8 finish in the boys 200 Free Relay with Nevin Cook, Kevin Koehr, Bryan Morch and Sean Koehr. We finished 8th, breaking the previous Seton record set at last year’s state meet by Bryan Morch, Kevin Koehr, Casey Rafter and Ray Bennett. After Katie’s grandmother made me switch the order of the girls relay, I decided that maybe a change was in order for the boys as well. I kept with my thinking of front-loading the relay, but we led off with Nevin Cook who has the fastest start on the team. Nevin lead off with a PR of 24.49, Kevin followed with a superfast 22.57, Bryan Morch broke :24 for the first time when he swam a :23.98 split and Sean finished with a :24.87. Their final time was 1:35.91.
- We had three other entries make the finals:
– Katie Planchak swam a personal record 57.45 to take 10th in 100 Freestyle.
– Our girls 400 Free relay took 13th. Caitlin Harris led off with a 1:03.09, followed by Kimberley Melnyk and Jessica Dunn who both crushed their own personal records (unofficially since it was with a relay start) with a 1:01.92 and a 58.49 respectively. Meg Seale closed the relay with her fastest split this season, a :58.32.
– Bryan Morch was the 1st alternate in 100 Fly, finishing 17th
- This year, we had the biggest State team we’ve ever taken, with a total of 21 qualifiers. The remaining members of the State team were Katie Corkery, Gina Garzione, Mary-Kate Kenna, Lea Mazzoccoli, Meghan Morch, Hailey Moya, Andrew Davis, Tyler Hood, Jack Murphy, Joe Ross and John Verry.
- Logistically, there were highs and lows. The plan for a team lunch each day between prelims and finals worked very well. This was the result of a suggestion by a group of mothers after last year’s meet, and it was definitely an excellent idea. While the Saturday night pizza party happened impromptu, it was an excellent idea that I think we should plan to do next year. On the low side, I think we will at least consider traveling together next year (if the meet is away) so that everyone gets where they are supposed to be on time, no one misses any vital information, and everyone has the maximum chance to feel the spirit of the meet and perform at their best.
- There are many pictures of the meet available for sale at http://mysite.verizon.net/vzeoynmk/. Only a few pictures are posted as I write, but there should be hundreds available for sale over the next few days.
- During the general meeting of Virginia State Independent Schools (VSIS) Swimming, my proposal to score the State Championship in 2 Divisions was accepted. This year’s meet was a pilot. The decision will be final after approval from the Athletic Directors. As the new VSIS Secretary, it will be my job to obtain that approval. The divisions are determined by student population. Because Seton has so many girls, our Girls will remain in Division I, but our boys will compete in Division II. Using this year’s results, our Boys would have finished third in the State behind Hampton Roads Academy and just 4 points behind North Cross. With all of our relays and top 16 finishers returning next year, we should be poised well to move up one place to State runner-up.
- And finally, I would like to thank you for the tremendous parental support I have received this season in my efforts to make the team a place where swimmers can improve their swimming ability, have fun, and hopefully learn a thing or two about character and the value of hard work. It is impossible to meet these goals without you prayers, support and counsel (of which I’ve received plenty ;-)). Mr. Cook and I will have some information about our end of season awards banquet later this week.
Great season – the traditional of excellence in Seton Swimming continues,