We’ve had three championship meets in the last two weeks during our run-up to States, and the Seton Swimming machine seems to be clicking on all cylinders:
On Jan 31st and Feb 1st twelve (12) of our top swimmers went up to Villanova University for the National Catholic High School Champs where Jameson Hill was named Swimmer of the Meet after breaking two National Catholic records, Lauren “The Machine” Donohoe and Alex Doonis shined, and everyone who went returned for finals! As coach QDD Rick Benner, who went up to coach the team on Saturday on my behalf, said on my voice mail before our girls ultimately earned a 5th place overall finish, “the Seton girls are killin’ it!” What a blessing it was to have a former US Olympic Team coach work with our team.
On that same weekend, while that group was swimming preliminaries in Philadelphia, the rest of the team was at the Freedom Center hosting our 3rd Annual VSIS Division II Invitational with 315 competitors from 19 schools. Rachel Lambrecht led this Virginia portion of the team to the girl’s team Runner-up trophy when she medaled in 100 Breaststroke. It is a pretty good indication of how deep we are in talented female swimmers when we can finish runner-up in the Division II Invitational (to a small Division I team) with so many top swimmers in Philly.
Then this past weekend, we took our Varsity team to Fredericksburg Academy where both the boys and girls dominated in the DAC Conference Championship Meet. We won twenty (20) of the 22 events except two, we broke eight (8) of 22 conference records, we broke nine (9) team short-course meter records, we had Jameson Hill, Mary Kate Kenna and Carolyn Claybrooks named Co-Swimmers of the Meet, and we had nineteen (19) swimmers finish in the top-3 to earn All-Conference honors. The Seton boys and girls scored 429 and 434 points while the 2nd place teams scored 194 and 224, respectively. Seton Swimming has come a long way.
Obviously, we’ve seen some great swimming over the past two weekends, including another 70 Personal Records (PRs), bringing our season total PR count to 580.
Jameson Hill has been Amazing
Jameson Hill has had a good two weeks of high school swimming. Since January 31st, he:
- won two individual National Catholic High School championships,
- broke two the National Catholic high school records,
- was named the National Catholic HS championship Swimmer of the Meet,
- won four conference championships,
- set three conference records,
- set three new team short-course meter and
- was named the DAC Conference MVP
Not a bad 8 days work. Here are few of the details:
- At National Catholics in the 200 Free, Jameson broke a 21-year old record by over a second when he swam 1:39.53 in preliminaries. He repeated that 1:39 in finals on Sunday and won the individual championship pulling away. It is sometimes hard to comprehend a time that fast, so let me put it in a little perspective:
- His first 50 split (to his feet after a flip turn) was :22.60 and his 100 split was :47.34. That is substantially faster than both Nevin and Kevin’s high school 100 Free times.
- If Jameson had been entered in the men’s 200 Free relay as an individual, he would have placed 10th, and would have beaten Bishop O’Connell’s “B” relay.
- Had Jameson swum individually in the Girls 200 Free relay, he would have won by 5 seconds.
- He’s only junior in high school, and he was unrested, his swim in the 200 Free would have got him to the finals of Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) college swimming championships last year.
- At National Catholics in the 100 Free, Jameson was equally awesome when he broke a 2-year old National Catholic record with a :45.76. His 50 split was an incredible :22.18. Remember, that split was taken when his feet touched – another 6 feet plus a flip.
- Even though Jameson was a first-year participant in a National Catholic meet where all of the coaches pretty much know who all of the top swimmers are, he left such an impression on everyone, that the coaches voted him Swimmer of the Meet! That is making quite a splash (Mr. Minarik – that pun was intended;-)).
- Naturally, Jameson also broke two team records with these swims.
- At DAC Champs, Jameson broke the conference championship short-course meter record by nearly 5 seconds in the 200 IM and he broke the 100 butterfly record by over 3.5 seconds. Those records were set back in 2002 and 2003, respectively, by a couple a pretty good swimmers who went on to swim in college. Not surprisingly, he also broke our team short-course meter records in both events.
- Finally, Jameson helped two relays earn gold at DAC Champs
Mary-Kate Kenna and Carolyn Claybrooks named Co-MVPs for the DAC Conference
Senior Mary-Kate Kenna and Junior Carolyn Claybrooks have also had a pretty strong 8 days of swimming:
- A few highlights of Carolyn Claybrooks’ recent accomplishments:
- At DAC Champs, Carolyn won three (3) gold medals, including individual titles in the 200 and 400 meter freestyles plus a relay title in the 400 Free Relay.
- She broke the DAC conference record for the 400 meter Free by 5.15 seconds, when she cut 3.48 seconds from her Personal Record. Ironically, that record was previously held by her co-MVP, Mary-Kate Kenna who set it in last year’s meet.
- At National Catholics, Carolyn had an amazing performance in prelims during the 200 Free. She cut her PR by 1.41 seconds, swam a 2:09.09, and ultimately finished 8th place overall.
- Carolyn also contributed to a 4th place finish for the Girls 400 Free relay and a top 16 finish in 100 Free at National Catholics
- A few highlights from Mary-Kate Kenna’s recent swimming:
- At DAC Champs, Mary Kate won three (3) gold medals, including individual titles in 200 IM and 100 Breaststroke plus a relay title in the 200 Medley Relay.
- In the 200 Medley relay at DAC Champs, she joined Alex Doonis, Bridget Wunderly and Lauren Donohoe to break the conference record, previously held by last year’s Seton “A” relay.
- At National Catholics, Mary-Kate had three top-8 finishes in 100 Breaststroke (6th) and 200 IM (8th) plus a 5th place finish as part of the 200 Medley Relay. During preliminaries, she PR’d in both events.
Girls Sprint Freestyle is in the Good Hands of Lauren Donohoe and Alex Doonis
Seton girls sprint freestyle is in great hands for the next few years thanks to sophomore Lauren “The Machine” Donohoe and freshman Alex Doonis who could both finish in the top 3 or 5 at States. At Catholic Nationals last week:
- The Machine comes to play when it counts. In the prelims of the 50 Free, she cut .48 seconds from her PR and jumped up to 2nd for the finals with a :25.28. The next day at finals, she officially claimed the silver medal for the 50 Free with another PR at :25.15! That swim also broke Katie Planchak’s 50 Free team record of :25.22 set in the 2006 State Championship.
- The Machine took the bronze medal in 100 Free with an incredible :54.91. That was a PR for Lauren, and it broke her own team record by .10 seconds.
- Alex Doonis was right there with Lauren, representing Seton as the school with fast female sprinters. Alex went :25.49 to take 4th overall in the 50 Free, and she went :55.78 to take 5th overall in 100 Free.
- It is going to be an interesting decision to determine where we are going to swim Alex at States. Using last year’s results and eliminating seniors, Alex’s current best times would put her 3rd in 50 Free, 6th in 100 Back and 7th in 100 Free. Too bad she can only swim two individual events.
- Lauren and Alex also led two relays to top-8 finishes at Catholic National:
- In the 200 Relay relay, they were joined by Cat Rogers and Laura Talbott to place 2nd overall (wow!).
- In the 400 Free relay, they were joined by Carolyn Claybrooks and Laura Talbott to place 2nd overall (wow!).
At DAC Champs this past weekend, these two were absolutely dominate:
- In the girls 50 Free, Alex got back at Lauren when she out-touched her by only .15 seconds for the Gold medal. They were so fast in the championship final heat that the bronze medal time was over 2 seconds behind them. That is quite a gap for such a short race.
- Only a few of you remember watching Katie Shipko swim back in 2002 and prior. She was the State Champ swimmer of the meet during her sophomore year for her performances in the 200 and 500 Freestyle. Well, Alex’s swim in the 50 Free broke the great Katie Shipko’s team 50 meter free record by .4 seconds. Lauren’s swim also broke it. It’s hard to believe we have two female swimmers who can break a Katie Shipko freestyle record.
- For their second individual event, we used the split them up to take gold in two other events. Lauren took gold by a huge margin in the 100 Free, and Alex crushed Wakefield’s top girl to take gold in 100 Backstroke.
- This pair of sprinters also help with two relay gold medal performances that set two conference relay records:
- In the 200 Medley relay, they joined Mary-Kate Kenna and Bridget Wunderly
- In the 400 Free relay, they joined Carolyn Claybrooks and Laura Talbott
Connor Cook Breaks Three (3) Conference Records
Junior Captain and Assistant Coach Connor Cook has been simply outstanding over the last two weekends.
- At DAC Champs, Connor won four (4) gold medals and set three (3) new conference records
- Connor dominated the field, earning gold medals in both the 200 and 400 meter freestyle events.
- He also broke records in both events. In the 200 Free, he broke the record by almost 2 seconds, and in the 400 Free, he broke the record by nearly 22 seconds!
- In the 400 Free relay, Connor swam the lead-off leg, getting Seton out to big lead. By the time David Basinger, Catfish Dunn and Jameson Hill had finished after him, we had lapped the entire field and broke one of the fastest conference records by more than 4 seconds.
- It is a little known fact that, during my first year as head coach in the 2003 DAC Championship Meet when Ray Bennett was a sophomore, Kevin Koehr and Bryan Morch were freshman and Nevin Cook was in 8th grade, Fredericksburg Academy actually beat us (I still remember!). Fortunately, we had won the regular season and thus the conference championship. FA had four really good swimmers that year, and they set the 400 Free relay record that year.
- Connor also led off the gold medal 200 Medley Relay that just missed the record set by the young Kevin, Nevin, Bryan and Ray in 2004.
- At National Catholics Connor had two top-16 finishes:
- In 100 Back, Connor took 15th and
- In 200 IM, Connor took 16th overall.
Connor has been such a great help to so many swimmers on our team this season – I really enjoyed watching him find some serious success in his own right.
Top 16 finishes at National Catholics
As amazing as this sounds, all twelve of our swimmers at National Catholics came back for Sunday finals in at least a relay. Here are the remaining top-16 performances that I have not mentioned yet:
- Our girls 200 Free Relay of Alex Doonis, Cat Rogers, Laura Talbott, and Lauren Donohoe took the bronze medal, finishing only .29 seconds behind O’Connell’s “A” relay. These four entered the meet with a season best time of 1:47.10. They dropped time in both prelims and finals, ultimately going a very fast 1:44.29.
- Our girls 400 Free Relay of Alex Doonis, Laura Talbott, Carolyn Claybrooks and Lauren Donohoe finished 4th overall. Again this combination of girls did a season best time, dropping from 3:55.56 to 3:52.27. The Seton record is 3:50.89 – at least until States!
- Our girls 200 Medley relay of Bridget Wunderly, Mary-Kate Kenna, Carolyn Claybrooks, and Cat Rogers took 5th place overall. It was really quite an accomplishment to have all three girl’s relays finish in the top 5 at National Catholics!
- Our boys 400 Free Relay of Jameson Hill, Connor Cook, Catfish Dunn and David Basinger took 7th overall. I front-loaded the relay for finals to see what Catfish and David would do, and boy was I pleased with the result. Catfish’s 100 Free PR is :53.40 and he split a :52.25! David’s 100 Free PR is :54.42 and he split a :53.22! Together, they went an incredible 3:23.86. Not only was that a team record, it will almost certainly be a top 8 finish at States.
- Our boys 200 Medley Relay swam their best times of the season to take 8th place overall. Connor Cook, Daniel Koehr, David Basinger and Jameson Hill. They entered the meet with a season best 1:45.74 and cut it down to 1:44.28 in finals. Connor Cook, Daniel Koehr and David Basinger has particularly fast splits. Connor went :26.7 in 50 Back, Dan went :29.9 in 50 Breast, and David went :25.8 in 50 Fly. Incredibly, Jameson’s :21.4 on the back-end has come to seem normal at this point.
- Bridget Wunderly has really improved this year, especially in Fly. At National Catholics, she placed 10th overall in that event. She also took 14th overall in 100 Back.
- Laura Talbott didn’t just shine in the relays. She took 13th overall in 100 Backstroke
- A month ago, I’m not sure I even realized that Cat Rogers could swim breaststroke. Now I get to write that her amazing improvement in the event got her to 10th place overall in the 100 at Nationals. Going into the meet, her PR was 1:19.65. In prelims she swam a 1:18.61, and in finals she dropped again down to 1:16.77! That is nearly a 3 second improvement in one weekend!
In the conference championship meet, swimmers that finish in the top 3 are designated All-Conference. Of the 32 swimmers designated All-Conference, 19 of them were from Seton:
- Carolyn Claybrooks – Gold in 200 Free and Gold in 400 Free
- Connor Cook – Gold in 200 Free and Gold in 400 Free
- Jameson Hill – Gold in 200 IM and Gold in 100 Fly
- Mary Kate Kenna – Gold in 200 IM and Gold in 100 Breast
- Alex Doonis – Gold in 50 Free and Gold in 100 Back
- Lauren Donohoe – Gold in 100 Free and Silver in 50 Free
- Daniel Koehr – Gold in 100 Breast and Silver in 100 Free
- Bridget Wunderly – Gold in 100 Fly and Silver in 200 IM
- Vincent “Catfish” Dunn – Gold in 100 Back and Bronze in 200 IM
- David Basinger – Gold in 100 Free
- Laura Talbott – Silver in 200 Free and Bronze in 100 Back
- Cat Rogers – Silver in 100 Free and Bronze in 100 Breast
- Keeley Cook – Silver in 400 Free
- Patrick Kenna – Silver in 100 Back
- Rachel Lambrecht – Silver in 100 Breast
- Monica Byers – Bronze in 100 Back
- Jonathan Rosato – Bronze in 100 Breast!
- Christian Vestermark – Bronze in 200 Free
- Leslie Zapiain – Bronze in 400 Free
At the beginning of the season, many of these swimmers were clearly expected to garner this recognition, but I’m not sure I would have predicted that those last 8 would be on the list. I am particularly pleased with these swimmers!
Some Seniors Swim for Seton for the Last Time
I have been honored to coach the following seniors who swam for our team for the last time on Saturday:
- Captain David Harris scored 22 points individually at DAC Champs with two 4th place finishes in the 200 and 400 Free. He was really gutting it out, especially at the end of the 400 Free. For the past few years, David has played the role of Mr. Versatility, swimming nearly any event we needed him to. This season in particular, he swam 200 IM or 500 Free or 100 Fly almost every week, even though I’m sure he would have liked to have tried 100 Breast one last time. It’s been great to have you on the team David.
- Captain Kelsey Kleb has always brought a certain joy to Seton Swimming. Her enthusiasm has always been contagious, even to me, and, like David, she scored many, many points in events that others found to undesirable. Fortunately for the team, (and her letter hopes) she has scored a lot of points over the years for our team. I’ll miss Kelsey.
- Captain Danielle Smith finished her career with a smile on her face. The thing I’ll remember most about Danielle is how much she helped the beginning swimmers improve over the years. That kind of selflessness helped make our team a better place.
- Alex Cummings has been swimming with us since she was a freshman, and it has been a joy to coach her. Alex almost never missed a practice this year, which is quite an accomplishment for a senior girl! I was excited to see her get two PRs at the Invitational.
- Christian Vestermark finally found his butterfly! And did anyone get more excited to have a good swim than Christian? Man, it was fun to watch him get excited. I’ll miss the enthusiasm.
- Will anyone who saw it ever forget Alex Harrill swimming the 500 Free for the first time at the WARF last year? I know I won’t. That memory made it a lot of fun to watch Alex try it again down at FCS in January – he made it look a lot easier the second time around. At some point later in his life, I hope Alex can recall that experience and remember that he can always do more than he thinks he can.
- After losing Kristin Rafter for a year, I was very excited to get her back for her senior season. It was fun to see her smile at swim meets. I also enjoyed listening her try to make bets with me that she couldn’t swim a certain event. Of course I always won – which means Kristin was the real winner.
- One senior that most of you never saw was Whitney Hood who came back to the team just to practice. Her attendance record was nearly as good as swimmers who swam in the meets, and her work ethic at practice was a model for the other swimmers in her lane. I’m glad that I got one last chance to coach her.
Kevin Bliss Did It!
- Kevin Bliss was the only Varsity Swimmer to finish the season with a PR every single time that he swam. I almost can’t believe that I’m typing these words. At the VSIS Division II Invitational, Kevin managed two final PRs:o In 200 IM, he cut 4.30 secondso In 100 Free, he cut another 1.34 seconds
- Emily Lowell and Joseph Kosten didn’t swim in the Invitational, but were the only other two swimmers on the team to accomplish this feat.
Other Great Swims During the Championship Season
There were so many other great swims and personal records, that I’m not going to be able to highlight them all – I wish I could mention them all, but here are a few of the swims I simply have to mention:
- At the VSIS Division II Invitational, Rachel Lambrecht had a tremendous swim in 100 Breaststroke, dropping .77 seconds from her PR to take the only medal Seton won at that meet (remember we had most of our swimmers up at Catholic Nationals). The swim was so good that, had she done it the week before, she would have been up at Catholic Nationals herself!
- Thomas Kosten placed 5th in 400 meter free at DAC Champs after a tremendous drop in time. Using a conversion utility to convert his time to the equivalent 500 yard free time, he cut 33.20 seconds from his PR and scored 10 points in that event alone.
- Matthew Verry looks like he’ll be taking over David Harris’ role as Mr. Versatility. At both DAC Champs and the Invitational, Matthew swam the 200 IM and the 400/500 Free, and he has really hit his stride in these events. I have seen dramatic improvement in his swimming this season, and that continued in these meets with 3 PRs in 4 swims. If you watch his butterfly, you’d see that he does the stroke nearly perfectly now. He’s only a sophomore, so I’m excited for his future.
- Hannah Lowell ended her season like she started it, with more big improvements in the middle distance freestyle events. At the Invitational, she cut more than 5 seconds in both the 200 and 500 Free – again!
- Eileen Heim just rocked in 100 Breast at the Invitational, cutting more than 3 seconds from her PR. She also cut time in the 200 Free. She’s only a sophomore, so I’m excited to get her back next season!
- Jonathan Jacobeen wrapped up his season at the Invitational with his first attempt at 100 Fly and two PRs in the 500 Free (by 8.10 seconds) and in 100 Free leading off a relay (by 2.49 seconds). See you next season for your senior year Jonathan!
- What a joy it was to coach Steven Shaw this season. He’s only in 8th grade, but if you saw the improvement he’s made this season, you’d have reason to get a little excited about his future, especially that backstroke where he cut 2.65 seconds at the Invitational.
- Monica Mosimann, I hope you’re swimming with us next season. That 2.76 PR in 100 Free at the Invitational should leave you with pleasant memories for the off-season.
- 8th grader Bernadette Wunderly looks to me like she has a bright future with Seton Swimming. Big PRs at the Invitational in 500 Free and 100 Free leading off a relay were very exciting. Even more exciting was watching her score 7 points for the team in 100 Fly at DAC Champs.
- The DAC Championship rules only allowed us to have one scoring relay, so the “B” relays at DAC Champs were entered as exhibition. That was a good thing for the other teams:
- Our girls 200 “B” Medley Relay of Danielle Smith, Rachel Lambrecht, Sarah Zapiain and Cat Rogers actually took 2nd place overall after Cat ran down the anchor leg of Fredericksburg Academy’s “A” relay. Had they been official, they would have gotten the silver medal – and qualified for States!
- Our girls 400 “B” Free Relay of Sarah Blanchard, Keeley Cook, Sarah Zapiain and Kelsey Kleb would have also gotten the silver medal had they been official. (I told you I’d mention this Kelsey!)
- Our boys 200 “B” Medley Relay of Patrick Kenna, Jonathan Rosato, Christian Vestermark and Brendan Koehr would have gotten the bronze had they been officialo Our girls 200 “B” Free Relay of Bridget Wunderly, Sarah Blanchard, Kelsey Kleb and Alex Cummings would have earned the bronze medal had they been official.
- Sophomore Bridget Wunderly broke Lea Mazzocoli’s 2008 short-course meters team record on Saturday by almost a second.
- Daniel Koehr also broke the team short-course meters team record for 100 Breaststroke. Incredibly enough, the previous record was set by Nevin Cook back in 2004. Clearly, All-America Nevin went much faster later in his career, but it is still cool to break a Nevin Cook record, no matter when he did it.
One meet left, and it is the big one – the VSIS State Championship, hosted by Seton Swimming at the Freedom Center this coming weekend. It is going to take some great swimming, but I think we have a chance to win both the boys and girls Division II State Championship. I hope the entire team can be there Saturday night – dressed in black – to help us claim whatever trophies we earn. This could be fun!