This past weekend was a very busy weekend for Seton Swimming with two (2) separate meets going on nearly 100 miles apart.

After a one-year hiatus, we returned to our long tradition of taking our top swimmers to the National Catholic High School Swimming and Diving Championships.  After many years of the Meet being hosted at Villanova, it has more recently been hosted at the beautiful aquatic facility at Loyola University of Maryland, in Baltimore.  As you will see below, our small contingent made a very strong showing, including placing both Angie Testani (FR) and Clara Condon (FR) into the Championship Final of 100 Breaststroke and seeing Connor Koehr (FR) and Mary Clare Waldron (SR) score in the top 8 in Diving.

The rest of the team stayed at the Freedom Center for one of the most unique meets in recent memory.  For the last several years, I have used the Seton Winter Invitational as a sort of “rite of passage” for the new swimmers where they compete in the 500 Freestyle, most for the first time ever.  With the size of our team, that meant that we had 43 entries in the Girls 500 Free – whoa!

To accommodate that many swimmers for an event that could take up to 15 minutes per heat, Will Waldron, Bill Dealey, and the Captains help pull together my plan to swim three (3) heats at the same time – a so-called “chase start” as Mr. Seltman informed me.  It required us to get 23 separate timers and stopwatches, plus 10 lap counters, behind the blocks to make sure that, with multiple kids in a lane, we could reliably get a time on each one.

As Coach Zadnik, Coach Irving, and I described the scene on the livestream broadcast, I was glowing with pride watching so many Seton volunteers pitch in to give these kids a chance to learn one of the many life lessons I hope they learn from Seton Swimming:

You can always do more than you think you can.

By the way, wasn’t Coach Irving a natural on livestream broadcast?

Final Scores

This past week, the scores were not really a focus for us at all, but here’s how they turned out all the same:


Seton                        168         Immanuel Christian                    75

Seton                        203         Fresta Valley Christian                15


Seton                        181         Brookewood                                 89

Seton                        184         Oakcrest School                          81

Seton                        208         Fresta Valley Christian               55

Seton                        215         Immanuel Christian                    31

Conquering Discomfort, A Great Example

I got some glowing e-mails about Veronica Gonzalez (6) following our Seton Winter Invitational on Saturday:

In Baseball, a pitcher can have a no hitter. At Seton Swimming, Veronica is one of our no quitters. – Coach Jerry Zadnik

If we had such a thing as MVP of the meet, Veronica would have been it!” – Captain Céilí Koehr

What prompted such praise?  I didn’t fully understand it during the meet, but apparently Veronica’s goggles came off right as she dove in to swim the 500 Free, and rather than stopping to fix them, (as I’ve consistently said you should never do) she proceeded with them around her neck.  Then, about halfway through the 20 lengths, she also lost her cap.  Again, she didn’t stop.

Nothing stopped her.  She even did all 19 flip turns!  And when it was all over, the brightness of her smile overshadowed the redness in her eyes.  That’s what attracted the well-deserved attention of Coach Zadnik and Céilí Koehr.

During the livestream, Coach Irving asked Coach Zadnik and I what we look for in a swimmer.  We agreed on our answer – “Heart”.  Veronica has heart.

Isn’t it ironic that just one week ago, I was writing in this blog about Veronica’s grandmother?  If you missed it, you simply must go back and read this incredibly compelling story.  I know that she would be very proud of her young granddaughter.

So, the next time you want to quit in the pool – or even the next time you want to do an open turn when you know you should do a flip turn – think of Veronica and her grandmother.  Suck it up, and get it done.  If you don’t think you can, you are the only one who thinks so.

Veronica was one of the most compelling examples of swimmers who tackled her fear of discomfort on Saturday, but she was far from the only swimmer on the team who did that.  I was so pleased with the following kids who faced a big challenge in 500 Free this past weekend, most for the first time, and didn’t blink:

  • Michael Brox (FR) – dropped 55.46 seconds
  • William Sokban (FR)
  • Dominic Miller (SO) – dropped 22.82 seconds
  • Seth Kellogg (FR) – dropped 56.17 seconds (Aren’t you glad you did it Seth?)
  • Justin Orr (SR)
  • Daniel Sokban (7)
  • Michael Zahorchak (7)
  • Dominic Judge (7)
  • Jonas Wilson (6)
  • Anthony Morales (8) – dropped 505.81 seconds (not a typo, that’s 8 minutes and 26 seconds)
  • Kevin Orellana (SR) – dropped 293.04 seconds, which is 4 minutes and 53 seconds!
  • Daniel Hurley (8)
  • Nick Vaughan (FR)
  • Aidan McCardell (8) – dropped 864.47 seconds, which is 14 minutes and 47 seconds!
  • Anastasia Garvey (8) – dropped 33.57 seconds
  • Moira Haggerty (JR) – dropped 1.74 seconds
  • Lucia Bingham (FR)
  • Emma Brox (SR)
  • Julia Atkinson (SO)
  • Amelia Geary (SO)
  • Maria Miller (8)
  • Orla Haggerty (FR) – dropped 15.44 seconds
  • Mariana Bingham (7) – dropped 42.95 seconds
  • Anna McGrath (FR)
  • Kyleigh Fifield (7)
  • Rebekah DeWolf (SR) – dropped 6.28 seconds
  • Monica Irving (6)
  • Maggie Kleb (SR)
  • Helena O’Keefe
  • Noemi Rodriguez (7)
  • Allison Quispe (8)
  • Molly Bauer (FR) – dropped 77.51 seconds
  • Cate Waldron (SO) – dropped 19.61 seconds
  • Nora Blanchette (8) – dropped 101.25 seconds
  • Jenna Novecosky (JR) – dropped 91.55 seconds
  • Maria McGrath (6)
  • Lily Waldron (6)
  • Aoife Haggerty (7)
  • Clare Heiny (6)
  • Maria Pennefather (SR)
  • Cate Gillson (7)
  • Elizabeth Maranian (SR)
  • Lizzie Rohan (FR)
  • Briana Shillingburg (FR)
  • Sofia Kohlhaas (6)

I was also quite proud of Max Gonzalez (FR) and Gus Kohlhaas (FR) who actually asked me to try the 200 IM for the first time.  I love it!  Greg Bauer (8), Ryan Beltran (SO), Mariana Bingham (7), Emma Brox (SR), and Molly Bauer (FR) joined them in their tackling an event that I personally think is more difficult than the 500 Free.

Aaron Bishop (SO), Joseph Borneman (FR), Dominic Judge (7), Daniel Sokban (7), Max Gonzalez (FR), and Greg Bauer (8) competed in 100 Fly for the first time.

And finally, let me give a shout-out to 7th graders Michael Zahorchak, Kyleigh Fifield, Cora Kramer, and Penny Kramer for competing for the first time in the 200 Free in a real Meet.

Last week, I was reminded of an awards banquet talk I gave a few years ago.  This weeks’ performance reminded me of another awards banquet talk I gave in years past:

National Catholic High School Swimming and Diving Champs

During this past weekend (January 15-16, 2022), a number of our top Seton Swimmers journeyed to Loyola University in Baltimore, MD to compete at the National Catholic High School Swimming and Diving Championship.

I was so pleased with the results, starting with our three (3) swimmers who scored individually, including two (2) girls in the Championship Final of 100 Breaststroke:

  • Angie Testani (FR) was our highest placing finalist with a  4th place finish in 100 Breaststroke.  She came out of Prelims seeded 8th with a season-best 1:09.66 and jumped up to the 4th place medal with an even faster 1:08.45.  Angie also took 14th place in 200 IM with a lifetime best 2:22.86.
  • Clara Condon (FR) was our highest scoring individual swimmer with two (2) appearances in a Championship Final. Her best swims of the weekend were in 100 Fly where she dropped 3.24 seconds from her PR to enter Finals as the 7th seed.  Then, in the Finals, Clara dropped again, down to 1:00.26 to take the 6th place medal.  Clara also took 8th in 100 Breaststroke with her best time ever swum at Seton, a 1:09.05.
  • Lucy Garvey (SR) had the best swims of her life in 100 Backstroke.  She dropped .09 seconds in Prelims to take the 12th seed, and then she dropped another .55 seconds to ultimately finish in 11th place.  Her 1:02.68 should be a time that scores individually at our States.

I was also extremely excited about the way our relays performed since I know that will be the key to being competitive for the Girl’s State Championship during the 3rd weekend in February.

Our Girls “A” 200 Medley Relay of Lucy Garvey (SR), Angie Testani (FR), Clara Condon (FR) and Mary Pennefather (JR) finally started to achieve their potential for this season.

They entered the meet with a season-best time of 1:58.03, but during Saturday morning Preliminaries, they jumped up from the 11th seed to the Championship Final (often called the “A-Final”) to earn the 7th seed at a 1:55.65.  Then, in the Sunday morning Finals, they dropped once again, this time to 1:53.64, and they ended up in 6th place.  That season-best time is only .09 seconds off their PR from last year’s Division II Championship Invitational.

Everyone contributed to the big drops.  Lucy Garvey (SR) swam a lifetime best 28.95 50 Back lead-off, followed by Angie’s season-best 30.76 Breaststroke split, Clara’s lifetime best 26.63 Fly split, and Mary’s 25.36 season-best anchor leg.  Those splits are very strong going into the championship season in a few weeks from now.

Our Girls “B” 200 Medley Relay of Mary O’Malley (SR), Mary Clare Waldron (SR), Isabelle Luevano (SR), and Elodie Brox (FR) also swam quite well.  Mary’s 33.79 was a .27 second PR, Clare’s 33.88 was right on her PR, and, unfortunately, the timing system did not get good splits on Isabelle or Elodie.  They must have been good though based on their final time of 2:06.00.

Our Girls “A” 200 Free Relay of Lucy Garvey (SR), Angie Testani (FR), Clara Condon (FR) and Mary Pennefather (JR) entered the meet seeded 11th at 1:48.20 and left the meet after Sunday’s Finals with a 10th place finish at a PR 1:47.60.  Lucy led-off with a season best 27.19, Angie followed with lifetime best 26.59, then Clara went a season-best 27.45, and finally Mary swam within .06 of her best time this season with a 26.20.

Our Girls “B” 200 Free Relay of Isabelle Luevano (SR), Mary O’Malley (SR), Clare Waldron (SR), and Elodie Brox (FR) finished with the 17th fastest time on the strength of PR relay splits from Isabelle, Clare, Elodie.  Isabelle dropped .85 seconds, Mary Clare dropped .89 seconds, and Elodie cut .15 seconds.

All four (4) of our Divers finished in a scoring position despite some ridiculously difficult, and sometimes inconsistent, judging:

  • Connor Koehr (FR) medaled in 5th place
  • Mary Clare Waldron (SR) medaled in 8th place
  • Rosie Waldron (FR) finished 10th
  • Mick Fioramonti (SO) scored in 10th

And finally, congratulations to our other National Catholic Team members who swam well:

  • Elodie Brox (FR) rocked her 50 and 100 Free, cutting .62 seconds and 2.45 seconds, respectively.
  • Isabelle Luevano (SR) broke 1:00 for the first time in 100 Free after her .23 second PR.
  • Mary O’Malley (SR) dropped another .13 seconds in 50 Free
  • Mary Clare Waldron (SR) lowered her 100 Breaststroke PR by another .45 seconds.  That was quite a feat given how much she just dropped it the weekend before.
  • Joe Wilson (JR) swam within .11 of his PR in the 50 Free and took 39th place in 100 Fly.

All-in-all, it was a great weekend for our top Seton Swimmers.  We stayed in a historic AirBnB house that was billed as a “Museum in a Mansion”.  It was so cool being able to have a gathering space between sessions and a central place for all of our meals.

A special thanks to volunteer coaches Ross Palazzo, Ashley Keapproth, and Seamus Koehr, none of whom have kids on the team, for taking their weekend to guide our swimmers and divers.

And also, a big thank you to Mrs. Katie Condon and Mrs. Alexandra Luevano for their hard work organizing and preparing our meals and coordinating rides for everyone.  Even with the snow, everyone got home safely!

There Were So Many Other Personal Record Swims

There were less PRs than normal, in large part because so many swimmers were swimming events for the first time so there was no time against which to measure improvement.  Between the two meets, we had 89 new Personal Records, bringing our season total to 671!

I have already mentioned numerous Personal Records, but here are the rest that I have not yet had an opportunity to highlight:

  • Jed Albin (SO) cut a huge 8.33 seconds from his 100 Free PR.
  • Julia Atkinson (SO) lowered her 100 Breaststroke PR by another .90 seconds
  • Ryan Beltran (SO) dropped 16.97 seconds in 200 IM and 5.05 seconds in 100 Breaststroke. Not too bad considering the amount of practice he’s had to miss.
  • Nora Blanchette (8) beat her previous best time in 50 Free by 1.39 seconds.
  • Joseph Borneman (FR) crushed his PR in 200 Free by 32.89 seconds – as I fully expected after watching him learn to accelerate through his recovery in practice.
  • JJ Brox (JR) looked the strongest I ever seen him in 100 Fly, and the result was a 6.15 second PR.
  • Michael Brox (FR) showed his versatility by competing in both the 500 Free and the 50 Free. In 50 Free he lowered his PR by .59 seconds.
  • Lily Clune (SR) took an opportunity to compete in a meet, and she made the most of it with a 1.05 second PR in 100 Free.
  • Lucy Cunningham (FR) dropped 2.58 seconds in 200 Free.
  • Haley Fifield (FR) has definitely figured out how to swim freestyle. How about her 3.86 second PR in 100 Free?  She also had a huge drop in 100 Breast, lowering her PR by 3.50 seconds on the strength of her glide underwater.
  • Kyleigh Fifield (7) cut .40 seconds in 50 Back leading off a relay and 3.07 seconds in 200 Free.
  • Mick Fioramonti (SO) had three (3) PRs before he headed up to National Catholics to dive. He dropped .38 seconds in 50 Back leading off a relay, 8.76 seconds in 200 Free, and 1.92 seconds in 50 Free.  That drop in 50 Free was particularly impressive.
  • Elizabeth Francis (FR) had a great swim in 200 Free, beating her previous best by 14.67 seconds.
  • Amelia Geary (SO) rocked her 200 Free, swimming a lifetime best by 3.70 seconds.
  • Jacinta Gonzalez (SR) didn’t swim a PR, but I was SOOO pleased to see her smiling and competing on Saturday.
  • Patrick Hartung (JR) cut a huge 4.87 seconds from his 100 Free by improving how he pulls all the way through on each stroke.
  • Mary Catherine Hurley (FR) had a great swim in 200 IM, beating her previous best by 2.36 seconds. She also swam a PR in 100 Back by 1.05 seconds.
  • Seth Kellogg (FR) dropped 22.39 seconds in 200 Free – that’s huge for him.
  • Connor Koehr (FR) had a big meet with three PRs. His .66 second PR in 50 Back leading off the medley moved him up to our “A” medley relay – for the time being 😉  He also had a big drop in 50 Free, cutting .71 seconds, and an even bigger drop in 100 Breaststroke, cutting 4.32 seconds.  On the livestream broadcast, we were using his Breaststroke technique as an example to explain how it should be done.
  • Peter Konstanty (SO) powered through 100 Fly with a 7.89 second PR. He also had a big 2.19 second PR in 100 Back.
  • Cora Kramer (7) lowered her 50 Free PR by another .87 seconds.
  • Penny Kramer (7) dropped 4.27 seconds in 50 Free.
  • Kateri Mantooth (JR) looked great in 100 Backstroke during her 2.33 second PR swim.
  • Elizabeth Maranian (SR) dropped nearly a whole second (.81 seconds to be exact) in 50 Free.
  • Aiden McCardell (8) cut 5.23 seconds from his 50 Free PR.
  • Michael McGrath (SO) continues to show huge improvement. He lowered his 200 IM PR by 26.53 seconds and his 100 Breaststroke PR by 22.07 seconds.
  • Maria Miller (8) cut 2.12 seconds in 100 Fly.
  • Drew Nguyen (FR) has moved into the ranks of Seton’s top male swimmers, and it really showed on Saturday. How about a 21.30 second PR in 200 Free and a 3.36 second PR in 100 Back?
  • Shannon O’Malley (FR) dropped 2.12 seconds in 50 Free and .07 seconds in 100 Breast.
  • Kevin Orellana (SR) lowered his 50 Back PR leading off a relay by 2.46 seconds. Be careful Kevin, people are going to start accusing you of being a good swimmer 😉
  • Justin Orr (SR) dropped 2.98 seconds in 100 Breaststroke.
  • Maria Pennefather (SR) had her best swim ever in 100 Breaststroke beating her previous best time by 5.30 seconds.
  • Allison Quispe (8) cut .10 seconds from her 50 Free PR.
  • Briana Shillingburg (FR) dropped more than a minute and a half (93.75 seconds) in 100 Breaststroke.
  • Max Wilson (FR) surprised exactly no one with his great swim in 200 Free, lowering his PR by 13.04 seconds. He also cut another 1.73 seconds from his 100 Free PR and .39 seconds from his 50 Free PR.
  • Madelyn Zadnik (SO) had a great Meet with a 10.58 second PR in 200 Free and a 2.22 second PR in 100 Fly.
  • Michael Zahorchak (7) broke 3:00 in 200 Free for the first time after dropping 16.66 seconds.

Please Meet Me Halfway – Plan B

Last week, I wrote at length about the difficulties imposed on the Coaching staff and Team Managers when kids either wait until the last minute to tell me about plans that were made long ago or, much worse, when kids give little or no notice at all that they are going to miss the meet.

There must be some good reasons this happens that I don’t understand because it happened multiple times again this weekend.  (I’m not talking about the kids who got sick on Friday and told me about it as soon as they could).

I don’t want to implement some draconian punishment for kids who do this to us, particularly since it is sometimes the fault of their parents, so I need a better system.  Here’s what I’m going to do from now on:

I’ve always tried to maximize the number of kids who are entered in two (2) individual events and two (2) relays.  That’s why, when more than one (1) or two (2) kids bails out at the last minute, we run out of kids to replace them.  From now on, I’m just going to have to leave 6-8 kids out of two (2) relays so when kids bail out, we have a ready pool of other kids with which to replace them.

It is unfortunate that I will now have to deny kids the opportunity to swim a second relay because of the actions of others, but I think we are at the point where I have no choice.  Naturally, the first ones I will be leaving out are the ones who have a past record of bailing out at the last minute for something controllable.

Final Notes

Let’s wrap it up with some final notes:

  • There are only two (2) weeks left in the season for our non-Varsity swimmers. Everyone will be swimming in the Northern Virginia Catholic High School Championship (aka, “NoVa Catholics”) on January 22nd
    • After NoVa Catholics, I will draft our entries for one of the February championship meets and use that to announce our 2022 Varsity Team.
  • Then, as a season-ending meet for all non-Varsity swimmers (i.e., swimmers who are not entered into meets during the championship season where there is no exhibition swimming), we will host our 15th annual Junior Varsity Invitational Championship at the Fitch WARF in Warrenton on January 29th.
  • For the Varsity swimmers, it’s time to start to get serious about some championship level swimming. From now on, you are going to see my attention shift from giving you a wide range of different types of swims to lining you up to be as competitive as possible.
    • Our Boys need to take the VCAC Championship Meet from Trinity Christian, and our Girls need to take the VISAA State Championship from the Steward School.
    • Neither is going to be easy

So, let’s make the most of our training in January.  It’s nearing the end of the season for most of you, and this is when championships are won for the rest of you!

Coach Jim Koehr

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