It was a great way to return from a very difficult trip for me personally.  I was dealing with a major customer that had me across numerous cities and sleeping in hotels in Chicago, IL, Memphis, TN, Bentonville, AR and Charlotte, NC – all since I left practice on Tuesday morning.  When I was finally able to get to the meet on Saturday during the Boys 100 Free via Uber from Reagan National, I was so happy to see a smooth running event and lots of smiling faces.  Sometimes it is really nice not to be needed – Saturday was definitely one of those times.

Thank you so much to everyone who took the reins of a meet with nine (9) teams and more than 200 swimmers and made it look easy – without me there to help at all.  It will impossible to mention everyone, but thank you to Bill Dealey and Kimberly Dalrymple for taking the lead.  Thank you to Rich Lowell, who changed a business lunch, and to Jerry Zadnik for coming early to help the Captains get the team organized.  Thank you to Robin Given for the great Brian Setzer Christmas music and to John Kleb for using his announcer skills to keep things on schedule.  Thank you to Carrie Hall, Charles Seltman and Miller Baker for getting all of the officials and timers organized.  Thank you to Carole Pechie for helping get the team areas organized.  Thank you to Hank Konstanty for his great work running the Colorado Timing System.  And thank you to all of you who volunteered to be timers, to sell meet programs (like Carrie Tozzie), to supply water to volunteers (like Paul Miller) and to be stroke and turn judges.

Two special thank yous also:

  • Mary Poleto from the Central Park Aquatic Center was as competent and professional as always, anticipating our needs and being creative about how she set up the team areas on and off the deck to make the meet fun for everyone involved. We are lucky to have you Mary!
  • Rosanne Garvey from Renaissance Montessori School who sponsored and served the pizza for all of us from Seton, Wakefield Country Day and Renaissance Montessori. Very generous of you Mrs. Garvey!

And finally, I’d like to highlight what a great job our Captains and Team Managers did – they really rose to the challenge.  They arrived early knowing that I was going to be late.  Catie Moore and Marcie Van de Voorde set up team areas and hung meet programs.  Anna Kenna supplied music for stretching.  Josh Miller and Grant Mantooth let stretching and provided important reminders, and Cat Pechie did a great job of leading warm-up in the Shaw Pool.  Kalli Dalrymple helped with attendance and Drew Dalrymple even provided snacks for the team.   I was so happy to hear about this sort of leadership.  I’m looking forward to even more of it – even when I am there!

It was Great to See Our Alumni

Since this was our Homecoming Invitational, it was so wonderful to see so many alumni come back.  Patrick Dealey, Patrick Hall, and Tommy Moore even got in the water and raced in a 200 Medley Relay with Patrick Hall swimming both Back and Free!

I got to see Patrick Koehr and Brian Koehr for the first time since they got home from Notre Dame and U. of Kansas for Christmas.  And it was wonderful catching up with Meghan O’Malley and Jillian Ceol.  I even got a chance to talk Rachel DuMez from Wakefield Country Day who is in her senior year swimming at U. of Richmond.  I remember when we adopted Rachel at States one year, so we treat her as one of our own now.

I’m sure that we will see more alumni come back in the future when the calendar has our Homecoming Meet after the beginning of the college Christmas breaks.  I would especially love to get some of our former swimmers who are now real live adults back in the water next year.  I’ve been coaching so long, that there are actually alumni from teams that I’ve coached who are over 30 years old!

Final Scores

The family connections at a place like Seton run deep so when you have big families like the Cuccinelli’s and the Hassan’s both having weddings on the same weekend, they are going to draw a crowd of other Seton families.  My wife Colleen was at the Hassan rehearsal dinner and wedding so I saw some pictures.  What a beautiful family the Hassan’s have.  I’m sure Mary Ann Hassan was smiling down on the whole event with her very special blessing.

Add a trip to vacation trip Martinique (Griffin’s, I am so jealous) and a stomach bug that was shooting around Seton and you can see why we were missing literally 20 of our swimmers this weekend – including 8 or our top 11 girls.  But the joy of time with family is even more important than a swim meet – if you can believe that I just wrote that 😉

In spite of all those missing swimmers, we still had a very positive result with the remaining 46 kids who almost all swam very well.   The Boys were even able to successfully meet the challenge provided by some talented swimmers from DAC rival Fredericksburg Christian School (FCS).

Here’s the way the meet scores turned out for us at Seton:


Seton                       140        John Paul the Great                                        126

Seton                      159        Fredericksburg Christian                               121

Seton                       179        Trinity Christian School            82

Seton                       201        Fresta Valley School                70

Seton                       206        Wakefield Country Day            16

Seton                       208        Chelsea Academy                    37

Seton                       209        Highland School                       38

Seton                       211         Blessed Sacrament                    30


Trinity Christian     172        Seton                                                             108

John Paul the Great  156        Seton                                                             115

Seton                       160        Fredericksburg Christian                                  114

Seton                       212        Fresta Valley School                46

Seton                       214        Wakefield Country Day            14

Seton                       212        Chelsea Academy                    14

Seton                       173        Highland School                       82

Seton                       206        Blessed Sacrament                     37

Seton                       209        Renaissance Montessori           25

First Year Swimmer Kevin Rodriguez Conquers Fears

Even though I got to the meet late, I was lucky enough to get there in time to see what became the highlights of the meet for me – the two Kevin Rodriquez 100 Freestyle swims.

Kevin is a 7th grader and this is his first year swimming competitively – and not just at Seton.  I understand from Mr. Konstanty that Kevin was quite a successful runner when Mr. Konstanty coached him at the CYO level, but from the first day of practice, it was clear that Kevin didn’t have that kind of background in swimming.

But that hasn’t stopped Kevin from trying – and the level of improvement we’ve seen from this young man has been remarkable.  Coach Zadnik can be justifiably proud as Kevin’s lane coach.

  • For some reason that I’ve forgotten, we were not able to get a 50 Free time on Kevin at Time Trials so this was the first meet where he swam 50 Free for a time. Kevin went 35.72 on Saturday.  True, I don’t know how much faster than that time is from what he would have swum on the first day of practice, but I can tell you two things even without knowing that: 1) 72 is A LOT faster than he would have swum on November 3rd, and 2) 35.72 is not a bad time at all for a 7th grade boy.
  • I know that Kevin was nervous about the 100 Free, which is understandable for a 1st time swimmer. But Kevin conquered that fear to go 1:24.45, a time that was 7.67 seconds faster than he went in Time Trials.  At that point, I think Kevin breathed sigh of relief that he had made it through – until Coach Dalrymple found him on the deck
  • One of the swimmers in the 400 Free Relay had to leave early, and Kevin had only swum in one relay – so Coach Dalrymple asked him to fill the spot. I was with him on the block.  He was clearly nervous, but he was willing to try.  That’s all I ever ask of any swimmer – do your best, whatever that is today.  Kevin did his best, and he knew it.

I was very proud of Kevin Rodriquez this weekend.  I know there are lots of stories like this from other swimmers at the meet, but I wanted to share this particular one with all of you.

Joy is this life does not just come from the fun things we do with friends and family.  Hanging out, watching movies, going to dances and playing games bring us joy, yes, but that kind of joy is often fleeting.  Real joy comes when we make great sacrifices for another person or when we face a strong fear and overcome it.  The former is why children bring their parents so much joy, and the latter is why Kevin experienced so much joy on Saturday night.  It’s the kind of joy that I expect all of you can experience if you are willing.

I often intentionally put you young swimmers in uncomfortable situations – you should know that I do that on purpose.  I know that you can do it, even if you don’t – if I didn’t know you could do it, I wouldn’t make you try.  So the next time I put you in the 500 Free, 100 Fly or 200 IM, don’t e-mail me to tell me you can’t do it – just do your best, whatever that is, and I promise you that you will find the same joy that Kevin did.

Thank you Kevin for setting such a good example for all of us.

If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.

– Thomas A. Edison

We had Quite a Haul of Personal Records!

With only 46 swimmers, we had 50 Personal Records.  That was more than last week’s total when we had many more swimmers, and it probably explains why we had such a good result for our boys against Fredericksburg Christian.

Here are the PRs we swam on Saturday night:

  • Ben Ceol (JR) rocked CPAC on Saturday night. First, he crushed the 3:00 barrier for 200 IM with a 19.69 second PR, and then he cut 2.60 seconds from his 100 Free PR – and those weren’t even his best swims.  Ben’s 50 Free PR is 26.90, but somehow he split 25.47 at the end of our “B” 200 Free Relay to help Brendan Santschi, Dominic Wittlinger, and Jack Santschi to beat the FCS “A” Relay and win the event 15-3.  That event was a backbreaker that made in nearly impossible for FCS to recover.
  • Victoria Baker (8) had a tremendous meet, swimming three (3) PRs. In 200 Free, she cut a whopping 13.74 seconds!  Then in 100 Free she swam 2.11 seconds faster than her PR and in 100 Free leading off the 400 Free relay, she swam 2.86 seconds faster than her pre-meet PR.  Those were some big drops Victoria!
  • Christian Ceol (FR) had a great swim in 100 Breaststroke, lowering his PR in the event by 3.92 seconds to beat all but one of the FCS’s breaststrokers. Christian also lowered his 10 Free PR by 1.02 seconds.
  • Teresa Bingham (7) was all smiles after a 5.29 second drop in her 200 Free
  • Colette Waldron (SO) was beaming when I saw her on deck – she was apparently having a very good meet. Well the 100 Free that I saw was certainly good – how about a 1.40 second PR!  She also had what looked like a very good split on the end of the 200 Medley Relay.
  • Elizabeth Caron (8) showed that she is a four (4) stroke swimmer when she cut 3.49 seconds in 200 IM to break 3:00 for the first time. Elizabeth also cut 3.03 seconds from her 500 Free PR.
  • Drew Dalrymple (FR) continues to get faster in the sprints, breaking :25 in the 50 Free for the first time with his .37 second PR.
  • Jerry Dalrymple (8) is showing that he can compete in all eight (8) individual events. This week, he smashed through the 6:00 minute barrier in 500 Free with a 14.56 second PR.  His 5:54.94 is a very fine time for an 8th grade boy.
  • Peter Tozzi (FR) also is showing talent in every event. This week, he swam the 200 Free and lowered his PR by a huge 25.46 seconds!
  • Nick Foeckler (JR) has improved so much! I was marveling at his backstroke with the Trinity Christian coach so it didn’t surprise me to see his time was 7.78 seconds faster than he’d ever swum before.  His head was still and his shoulders were rotating beautifully.  Nick also cut 1.11 seconds from his 100 Free PR.
  • Jack Santschi (8) is going to be a very good swimmer for Seton in the years to come. I was so pleased to see him take on the 200 IM and the 100 Fly and PR in big in both events, by 2.97 seconds and 5.50 second respectively.  His 1:10.14 in 100 Fly is a really good time for an 8th  Jack also had an amazing 26.32 split on the “B” 200 Free relay that beat the FCS “A” relay.  Jack’s standing start PR is 27.82.
  • Anna Kenna (JR) took the weekend to try a new event, the 200 IM. I knew she’d be a lot faster than her PR and I was right.  How about a 6.09 second drop to 2:17.30?
  • Seamus Koehr (JR) rocked the 100 Free. Seamus cut an amazing 5.24 seconds and nearly broke the 1:00 barrier for the first time.  I’m sure it will happen this season now.
  • Shane Koehr (FR) had a really great swim in the 500 Free – which he asked to swim! I was so pleased to see him go 6:41.26 after a huge 37.67 second drop.
  • Maria Tozzi (8) had an awesome swim in 100 Fly, lowering her PR by 3.06 seconds. She also cut her 100 Back PR by .32 seconds.
  • Dominic Wittlinger (JR) had a very fine swim in the 200 IM with a 4.39 second PR. I’m glad Dom is back in the water after fighting swimmers ear.
  • Katie Albin (FR) tackled the 500 Free and cut 9.03 seconds from her PR. The next time she swims this, I’m quite sure Katie can break 7:00
  • David Flook (FR) had a great swim in the 200 Free, cutting 12.00 seconds from his PR and taking 3rd place overall.
  • Rosie Hall (JR) cut another .95 seconds from her 500 Free PR, which is quite a feat given how strong her swim was last week.
  • Liam Kellogg (8) was smiling big when I saw him, and when I looked through the results, I could see why. Liam had a huge 1.44 second drop in the 50 where he’s about to break the :30 second barrier.  Liam also cut .77 seconds from his 100 Free PR.
  • Anne Konstanty (FR), after her previous great swim in the 500, tried the 200 Free this week, and dropped 12.04 seconds!
  • Katie Dealey (FR) dropped 1.56 seconds in 200 Free and a 1.07 seconds in 50 Back leading off a medley relay. She also tried 100 Fly for the first time.
  • Justin Fioramonti (FR) did very well on Saturday. Trying the 500 Free for the first time, he swam an excellent time of 7:28.16.  Justin also cut another .87 seconds in 50 Free.
  • Mary Ostrich (SO) had a good looking swim in 100 Back. When I saw it, I knew it was going to be a PR – which it was, by 2.23 seconds.
  • Matthew Kelly (JR) rocked the 50 Free with a 1.26 second drop to go 26.64. He’s really trying to prove to me he’s sprinter 😉
  • Timmy Kelly (8) had a very fine meet with a 1.97 second PR in 100 Free and a 1.34 second PR in 50 Free. Timmy has really shown a lot of improvement this season.
  • Patrick Murray (JR) had a great weekend with two (2) PRs. In 100 Free he dropped 3.57 seconds and in 50 Free he dropped .23 seconds.
  • Julianna Holmes (SR) looked very strong when I watched her anchoring one of our 400 Free Relays, so it was no surprise when I saw in the results that she lowered her 50 Free PR by .55 seconds.
  • Grant Mantooth (SR) showed that he is more than just a sprinter. On Saturday, he had an excellent swim in the 200 Free, swimming more than 10 seconds faster than he did at Fork Union last year.  Grant also had a great swim in 100 Fly, cutting 1.10 seconds from his PR.
  • Theresa McGrath (7) is a swimmer – not just a breaststroker – and she’s a good swimmer at that. I was very pleased to see her cut 2.35 seconds from her PR in 200 Free, and I was even more pleased to see her attempt the 500 Free for the first time.  Now that she knows it is not as hard as she thought, I can’t wait to give her another shot at it.
  • Josh Miller (SR) cut another .09 seconds from an already very fast 50 Free PR. Congratulations also to Josh for attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.  His Court of Honor is Monday night in Warrenton.
  • Mary O’Malley (7) impressed her older sister Meghan with a .49 second drop in 50 Free.
  • Katya Konstanty (JR) scored in 100 Fly after swimming .61 seconds faster than her PR.

Wakefield Country Day and Renaissance Montessori Swam Great

It was great to see Wakefield Country Day Athletic Director Mike Costello, on deck with Seton Athletic Director Dan Vander Woude.   They seemed to be sharing their swim coach quite happily 😉

And their swim coach is having a lot of fun in the process.  I was so pleased with the way the two Wakefield Country Day swimmers we had with us performed:

  • Lucas DuMez (SR) got the chance to show off a little for Coach Costello – and his older sister Rachel – when he crushed the field in the 500 Free going 5:22.43, 6.22 seconds faster than his previous PR. That easily hit the state cut and is very likely to be a VISAA Top 16 time when the next report comes out.  Lucas also lowered his 50 Free PR by 1.07 to go 23.11.  That will also likely be a Top 16 time on the next report.
  • Bridgette Larson (JR) had two excellent swims, the best of which was her 100 Back where she cut 1.94 seconds from her PR. Her 1:10.38 in 100 Fly was an excellent time also.

Renaissance Montessori had another two of their three girls in the water this week:

  • Lucy Garvey (7) is a proving to be a very fine young swimmer. I was amazed to watch a 7th grade girl go 6:27.39 in 500 Free.  Not only was that an 18.57 second PR for Lucy, it was really fast!  Lucy also cut another .84 seconds from her 50 Free PR.  I’m really enjoying watch Lucy successfully overcome her father’s genetics.
  • Ethiana Hasch (7) showed how versatile she could be with a great swim in the 200 Free, lowering her PR by 11.49 seconds! Ethiana also tried 100 Fly for the first time and swam a very impressive time for a 7th grade girl.

State and National Catholic Qualifiers

We have two championship meets where, in order to be eligible to participate, you have to meet a qualifying time standard during the current season.

The VISAA State Championship is February 17-18, 2017 at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center.  I am a co-host for the meet along with Coach Greg Guldin of Woodberry Forest so I’m very excited for Seton to have a strong showing.  We’ve even rented a beautiful house for team gatherings and meals between sessions.  It should be a great time for everyone eligible to participate.

Here are the individual State Meet qualifiers after this weekend:

  • Anna Kenna – 50 and 100 Free, with new cuts in 200 IM and 100 Back
  • Caroline Griffin – 200 IM and 100 Back
  • Mairead Geiran – 100, 200 and 500 Free, plus 200 IM and 100 Fly
  • Alex Ceol – 100 Fly
  • Lucas DuMez (WCDS) – 100 and 200 Free plus 100 Breast and 100 Back, with new cuts this week 50 and 500 Free. Lucas is well on his way to qualifying in all eight (8) individual events.

Here are the relays that have hit the cut:

  • Boys “A” 200 Medley Relay
  • Girls “A” 200 Medley Relay
  • Boys “A” 200 Free Relay
  • Girls “A” 200 Free Relay
  • Boys “A” 400 Free Relay
  • Girls “A” 400 Free Relay
  • Girls “B” 400 Free Relay

I will not list names for these relays because it is impossible to tell who will actually swim.  You are eligible for me to enter you on a relay at States if you have swum on that relay during the season when it hit the cut, but that doesn’t mean I will be able to actual enter you to swim.  We go to States to try to bring home a State Championship or State Runner-up. If I feel like we have a legitimate shot at one of those titles, it would not be unusual for me to use some of our top swimmers in 3 relays and only one individual event because relays score so many points.  Time – and your times – will clarify this situation for all of us.

The National Catholic High School Championship is at Loyola University in Baltimore on January 21-22nd with prelims in the morning on January 21st and finals on Sunday, January 22nd.  We also have a meet that afternoon, so depending on how many girls qualify, we’ll have to discuss later how we are going to handle that.

Here’s who has qualified for National Catholics so far:

  • Anna Kenna – 50 and 100 Free, with new cuts in 200 IM and 100 Back
  • Caroline Griffin –100 Back
  • Mairead Geiran – 100 and 200 Free, plus 200 IM and 100 Fly
  • Dani Flook – 50 Free

And here are the relays that have hit the National Catholic cut.  Once again, I will not attempt to project the line-ups for these relays yet:

  • Girls “A” 200 Medley Relay
  • Girls “A” 400 Free Relay

An eligibility report for both meets is posted under Meet & Team Information.  If you are listed under Event #101 or #102 for States, that means that you have qualified for the Bonus 50 Free.  The Bonus 50 Free is an extra event in which you can participate only if you qualify in some other event, including a relay.

Final Notes

Let’s wrap it up with some final notes:

  • On Monday and Tuesday, I plan to wrap up Breaststroke and the Breast/Fly turn. That means since November 3rd, we will have built, from scratch, every stroke and every wall.  For those of you who have been able to make every practice, you’ve really learned a lot!
    • I just confirmed that on Tuesday, Dec 20th, we’ll have Occoquan Coach Reid Owen back to guest coach the Breast/Fly turn. This will be his 3rd time guest coaching for me this season, and every time he does it, I get rave reviews from our swimmers.  Don’t miss practice on Tuesday!
  • On New Year’s Eve, December 31st, we’ll have our annual Cystic-Fibrosis swim-a-thon. Thanks again to the Given family for running it again.  There’s a link on the home page for each family to set up a fundraising page.  I’m not asking for big money here, but I am asking for participation.  The come join us at 10:00 on New Year’s Eve to swim 200 lengths of the pool.  If you think you can’t do it, you are probably right – but I know differently.  It is amazing what you can do it you’ll just try.
  • Christmas Break Practices
    • Over Christmas Break, the swimmers in Coach Lowell and Coach Ross’ lanes, if you are in town, should plan on participating in Captain’s practices. There will be adult supervision, but we traditionally have the Captains take the lead over this break.  We will practice at CPAC from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on:
      • Thursday, Dec 22nd
      • Tuesday, Dec 27th
      • Thursday, Dec 29th
      • Monday, Jan 2nd
    • January 3rd is the last day of our break, but normal activities resume at CPAC so as of now, we will need to practice at 6:04 a.m. I’m trying to get pool time later in the day – I will let you know if I succeed.
    • Thursday, January 5th practices resume for the entire team at the normal time.
  • Did anyone wonder why I had so many people swimming in the 400 Free Relay this week?

See you Monday morning,

Coach Jim Koehr

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