Dessert First, Dinner Afterwards.”  That’s what my friend Peggy Ragan, the wife of former St. John’s Deacon Bernie Ragan, used to say.  Judging by the line at the ice cream machine and the dessert bar at Golden Corral on our way back from St. Catherine’s School in Richmond last Saturday, a lot of our young swimmer took Peggy’s advice to heart!

Every year we try to start off the season with a bus trip to somewhere as a way to get the kids into the competitive season and build some team comradery.   For the last several years the trip has been to St. Catherine’s School in Richmond.  Coach Bucka Watson and Meet Referee John Warren always seem to make us feel special.  This year, our very own Charles Seltman and Norfolk Academy’s Bill Gill also participated in making the meet the great event that it always is.  Thank you to all of the families at St. Catherine’s School for hosting us.

The meet was great for Seton for more than just how well it was run.  Our swimmers had a bonanza of Personal Records – 63 swimmers had a total of 85 Personal Records.  Most of the kids who did not hit a PR were our advanced swimmers who you wouldn’t expect to start hitting their competitive stride until later in the season anyway.

The team competition faired very well for us also, although I am really not focused on that at all in December.   St. Catherine’s, St. Christopher’s, and Norfolk Academy are all VISAA Division I powerhouses who regularly compete for the Division I State Championship.  In spite of the fact that they were all missing several top swimmers for USA meets, they are still in a different league than Seton, literally in this case.  Same with public school, Mills E Godwin.

The Division II schools which are closer to Seton’s size are the ones we will be competing with at the State Championship, with Fredericksburg Christian also being a member of the DAC:


St. Catherine’s School                 139               Seton Swimming                        44

Norfolk Academy                       125               Seton Swimming                        58

Mills E Godwin                          98                Seton Swimming                        72

Seton Swimming                      100               Williamsburg Christian            55

Seton Swimming                      128               Fredericksburg Christian          31


St. Christopher’s School             139               Seton Swimming                        41

Norfolk Academy                       121               Seton Swimming                        62

Mills E Godwin                          106.5            Seton Swimming                        63.5

Seton Swimming                      119               Fredericksburg Christian          33

Seton Swimming                      136               Williamsburg Christian            14

The Seton season has a purposeful cadence to it, and this time of year, it is all about teaching kids to swim properly.  From Election Day to Christmas, we try to build every stroke and every wall from scratch for every kid.  Then we try to get kids to swim as many different events as possible so:

  • They have the maximum opportunity to show improvement
  • They learn to become four (4)-stroke swimmers, not specialists in any particular stroke or distance
  • I learn how to create the most competitive possible line-ups for when it starts to matter in January and beyond.

The rules of the Delaney Athletic Conference (DAC) for swimming dictate that there is a designated meet between each team in the DAC for which the score is used to determine the Conference Championship, and those meets start in January.  The competition that counts for Seton against the vast majority of DAC schools will be on Saturday, January 4th at the Highland Invitational in Warrenton.  That’s where we will face our most serious competition, the Trinity Christian School girls.

From there, we’ll ramp up the intensity of practices to build more cardiological capabilities in preparation for the championship meets in the later part of January and February, culminating in the State Championship Meet at Virginia Tech on February 14-15, 2020.

Hanging with the Big Boys and Girls

We too were missing some swimmers, 16 in fact, because of the Senior play and a big Irish Dance competition.  But that didn’t keep us from having our top swimmers shine from the center lanes:

  • Mairead Geiran (JR) will be getting her fair share of good press in my blogs as the season progresses, but it will be well deserved, I already know. Mairead is on a training cycle with her USA team, OCCS, that is designed for her peak next February.  In spite of that, she went 2:21.09 in 200 IM, just .24 seconds off of her PR, and she went 1:04.96 in 100 Fly, just .59 seconds off of her PR there too.  Both swims finished 3rd overall in the meet, and both qualified her for States by wide margins.  It is going to very exciting to see what Mairead can accomplish this season.
  • Mary Pennefather (FR) is only a freshman, but she’s already staked her claim to the anchor spot in our sprint relays. On Saturday, she finished 4th overall with a strong swim in 50 Free.  As the season progresses, I know we’ll see her back down below her times from States last season.  One of my goals for Mary this season is to get her to another event in which she can shine.  She made a good effort in 100 backstroke this week, and I’ll make sure she has a chance at 100 Free and 100 Breaststroke over the next two weeks also.
  • Evan Wilson (JR) made quite a show on Saturday for me and the other coaches. Most amazing was his improvement in backstroke where he was close to Shane Koehr leading off the medley – a 1.48 second PR – and where he took 5th overall in 100 Back with an impressive 1:05.62 – a 5.94 second PR!  Wow!  Evan’s stroke was long, fast, and beautiful, and he was just cutting through the water.  I think the State cut in 100 Back may be within his reach if he takes the conditioning practices over Christmas and in January seriously.  Evan also dropped an incredible 5.64 seconds in 100 Fly!  It was definitely a great day for Evan!
  • Isabelle Luevano (SO) was a pleasant surprise with her 5th place overall finish in 100 Breaststroke, swimming just .16 seconds off of her previous best the first meet of the season. She missed some of our stroke training on Breaststroke last week, so with a little work on a few things, I can see PRs in Isabelle’s future here.
  • Drew Dalrymple (SR) is emerging early in the season as our top sprinter so far with a 24.71 in 50 Free that was only .08 seconds off his PR. That was good enough for 6th place, .09 seconds behind 4th place Vince DiLeonardo from Fredericksburg Christian.  I will be looking for Drew to remedy that finish order on January 4th, which I am quite confident he can do.
  • Shane Koehr (SR) had to leave early for the Senior Play, but that gave him enough time to cut 7.13 seconds from his PR in 200 IM. That was good enough for 7th overall, but more importantly it demonstrated how Shane’s conscientious work in practice over the past several years has made him a four (4) stroke swimmer – something that should be a goal for everyone on the Seton team.  Shane also took 7th in 100 Free
  • Jerry Dalrymple (JR) is working his way back into form to be one of our top butterfliers. In 100 Fly, he finished 7th overall, and in 50 Fly during the Medley Relay, he split a very fast 26.71.  I can’t wait to work on his stroke the week of the 16th.  Jerry also led off a 200 Free Relay with a 25.01 split, an excellent early season flat-start time.
  • Jacob Alsup (SR) showed that he can be one of our best middle-distance freestylers and not just a sprinter. He had a strong swim in the 200 Free and the 500 Free where he took 8th and 9th.  Both Coach Mulhern and I see great potential in Jacob’s “long and strong” freestyle to excel in these events as his conditioning improves.  That doesn’t mean he won’t be sprinting for us though – how about his 24.84 split in the 200 Free relay?
  • Nathan Luevano (FR) is only a freshman, but it is already exciting for me to think about how many different ways he can score for us this season. The best evidence was his 2.21 second PR in 200 IM where he went 2:28.93 to finish 9th.  You can do a time like that as a freshman without being able to swim all four (4) strokes.  His 100 Backstroke was better than ever, by 2.14 seconds (8th place), and he even cut 1.05 seconds from his 50 Free leading off a relay.  I already know he can rock the 500 Free, so next up is to see what he can do in 100 Breast, 100 Fly and 200 Free.
  • Emily Flynn (SO) is quietly working her way back to the form she saw as a USA swimmer a few years back. Her 200 Free was particularly impressive.  Her long, powerful strokes got her back within a couple seconds of her all-time best and yielded an 8th place overall finish.  She also cut .67 seconds from her 50 Back leading off a medley relay and she came close to her old PR in 100 Back with a 10th place overall finish.  Emily is going to be key for Seton on January 4th, I’m sure.
  • Joey Arnold (SR) is back! His first shot at the 50 Free in a few years yielded a 3.23 PR 25.88, good enough for 9th place overall.  That dog is going to hunt – and he’s just begun I think.  He also nearly broke a minute with a big PR swim leading off a 400 Free Relay.  Can’t wait to see what he can do in 100 Fly 😉
  • Teresa Bingham (SO) swam well enough in 100 Fly to take 9th place overall. The week of December 16th we will be working on Butterfly, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how good she can get.  She also cut 1.78 seconds in 50 Back leading off a medley relay.
  • Anne Konstanty (SR) showed her versatility with two big PRs and two 10th place overall finishes in the 200 IM and 100 Free. Anne dropped 2.93 in the former and .67 in the later.  More than anyone on the team except Mairead, Anne is someone that I know that I could put in any event and expect her to score.  What a fine swimmer Anne has become since she started at Seton.
  • Liam Kellogg (JR) showed what he can do for Seton in both 200 Free and 100 Breaststroke, taking 11th and 10th His strokes are getting quite good, so I can’t wait to see where he goes with more conditioning.
  • Christian Ceol (SR) has figured out how to get long in freestyle and it really paid off on Saturday. Looking better than I’ve ever seen him swim, he cut 2.23 seconds in 200 Free to take 10th  I was also pleased to see that 25.23 at the back end of one of our medley relays.
  • Jeremy Kleb (SR) is already making the most of his senior season with two tremendous Personal Records. In 50 Free, Jeremy cut 1.26 seconds from his previous best, and in 100 Free, Jeremy cut a whopping 3.18 seconds!  That was the first time Jeremy has swim 100 Free in under 1:00 in his life.  I guess I’m going to have to compliment him more in practice 😉
  • Joe Wilson (FR) has been turning heads in practice, so I’m using the meets in December to test his versatility. First up with a great swim in 200 IM where he went 2:31.27 and took 10th, a great first-time showing for a freshman.
  • Catriona Linton (SO) took 10th place overall in the 500, an event where I expect her to score quite a bit in the postseason and on January 4th. With continued work in finding the “skate position” every stroke, I will be anxious to see how fast she can get.
  • Mary O’Malley (SO) got an early season shot at both the 200 and 500 Free, and impressed me greatly in the process. Even without the full benefit of our Christmas and January conditioning practices, she managed to cut 3.10 seconds from her 500 Free PR and get within range of breaking 7:00.  Mary’s 200 Free was good enough for 10th
  • Lily Byers (SO) is an up and comer who going to make her presence known this season – I can see it in practice and I saw it on Saturday. Lily took 11th in both the 200 Free and the 500 Free, including a .19 second early season PR in the 200.

Head-Turning Performances on Saturday

It happens every season at this time.  We go to our first meet, and there are a few kids who I watch in the water and say “Wow! Wasn’t that something!”  Here are some of those swimmers that made the other Coaches and I say “Wow!”:

  • Madelyn Zadnik (8) had everyone’s head turning with her two individual swims on Saturday. In 100 Fly she cut 15.31 seconds from her PR, and in 200 Free she cut 14.23 seconds.  Those are huge drops for someone who is already swimming pretty fast times.   It was really a great day for Madelyn!
  • David Hudson (8) really shined in his first attempt of the season at the 200 IM. I was just blown away by 14.96 second PR.  A 2:42.22 in 200 IM for an 8th grader is a really strong time.  With continued attention to his technique in practice, it’s fun to think about how much faster he can get.
  • Kathleen O’Malley (SR) is back for her senior year after a two-year hiatus. I’d forgotten how fast she was!  And she’s getting faster as demonstrated by her 3.32 second PR in 100 Back on Saturday.  Kathleen, I am SOOO happy you are back on the team!
  • Ava Hudson (8) can also rock as an 8th grader, and she really showed it with her 25.62 second PR in the 500 Free. I think she can break 7:00 minutes in that event this year, which would be an amazing accomplishment for a female swimmer her age.
  • John McGrath (JR) came to Seton for the first time just the week before swim season started, but he’s already making his mark on the team with big improvements. In the 200 Free, he showed that he could score in the DAC after an 11.31 second PR and in 50 Free, John showed that he is in range of competing for a spot on one of our scoring relays with an eye-popping 2.85 second PR.  That’s a huge drop when you are down to 26.99.  Let’s keep dropping John!
  • Ryan Beltran (8) is back after a layout for the last half of last year due to sickness – and he is back with a vengeance. How about a 9.69 second PR in 50 Back leading off a relay – that’s like a 20% drop!  And then right after that, he cut 7.82 seconds from his 200 Free PR, nearly breaking 3:00 minutes.  It is very exciting to see where Ryan goes this season – and beyond.
  • Dominick “CK” Tolentino (SR) has improved so much that I barely recognized him in the water during his 100 Free. His 13.14 second PR was no surprise to me after watching how “long and strong” he got with each stroke.  It was more beautiful than I’ve ever seen from CK.  Dominick also dropped an unbelievable 8.90 seconds in 50 Free, not just breaking :40 for the first time, but approaching the :30 second barrier.  It was truly a great weekend for Dominick.
  • JJ Brox (FR) is new to the team this year, and he definitely turned my head on Saturday with the amount of improvement he’s made since Time Trials. He’s already under :30 in 50 Free after a big 1.28 second PR, and he’s about to break 1:05 in 100 Free after another big 1.95 second PR.  It’s fun to think about what JJ’s class can do with all those great middle schoolers to back them up.
  • Haley Fifield (7) was all smiles when she looked up at the scoreboard after her two events on Saturday. I would be smiling too if I looked up a saw a 5.87 second PR in 100 Free and a 4.95 second PR in 50 Free.  Wow!
  • Joseph Dwane (8) came to play on Saturday with two massive Personal Records. In 50 Free, he dropped an unbelievable 5.64 seconds and in 100 Free he dropped a huge 5.14 seconds.  I can’t wait to see what he can do in the other strokes in the coming weeks.
  • Maggie Gibbons (8) is off to a great start, getting all of our attention on Saturday with her tremendously improved 200 Free. She cut just under 16 seconds (15.96) from her previous PR!  Nice work Maggie!
  • Peter Hartung (7) sure did make Coach Zadnik proud with that 15.51 second PR in 100 Free. Peter also cut 6.40 seconds from his 50 Free PR.  Wonderful!
  • Jo Hartung (8) also put a big smile on Coach Zadnik’s face with her 10.51 second PR in 100 Free and her 2.73 second PR in 50 Free. The Hartung cousins had quite a day on Saturday.
  • Teresa Kerlek (SR) joined our team for the first time as a senior and is really improving fast! After a 5.61 second PR in 100 Free, she nearly broke 1:30 and after a 3.86 second PR in 50 Free, she crushed the :40 second barrier.  I’m so proud of you Teresa!
  • Elena Morano (SR) is another senior who came out for the team for the very first time, and like Teresa, she’s improving very, very quickly. How about her 5.35 second PR in 100 Free and her 6.92 second PR in 100 Free?  Great job Elena!
  • Peter Konstanty (8) had a great day with three (3) big PRs. How about a 5.23 second drop in 50 Back leading off a medley followed by a .87 second drop in 50 Free and a 1.58 second drop in 100 Free.  Peter really caught my attention with that backstroke.
  • Michael McGrath (8) is learning very fast, and it showed with a massive 5.98 second drop in 100 Free and a 2.16 second drop in 50 Free. Keep it up Michael!

So Many Other Personal Records

As I said in the beginning, we had a total of 85 PRs from the 63 swimmers that came with us to the meet.  That’s over 1.3 PRs per swimmer.  As I often say “if everyone does their best, the winning takes care of itself.”   Here are the other swimmers that have Seton off to such a great start this season:

  • Sophie Zadnik (SO) had three PRs on Saturday, including two (2) in 50 Free. In the 50 Free event she cut .41 seconds and then she cut another .20 seconds in 50 Free leading off a 200 Free Relay.  In the 100 Breaststroke, she nearly broke 1:30 after a big 1.40 second PR to end the meet.
  • Max Wilson (7) is the youngest kid, along with Connor Koehr (7), swimming in practice with the bigger kids, and he is pushing them. His times are already pretty fast, but on Saturday, his 100 Free got another .11 seconds faster.
  • Rose Waldron (7) cut 3.29 seconds from her 50 Free PR. Nice work Rose!
  • Cate Waldron (8) lowered her 50 Free PR by 2.89 seconds, another big drop for the Waldron’s
  • Reagan Rose (SO) looked really good in the 100 Free, lowering her PR by another 1.94 seconds
  • Shannon O’Malley (7) continues to improve in her first year on the team with a big 2.64 second drop in her 50 Free.
  • Chris Lynch (8) broke :35 in 50 Freestyle after a big 2.39 second PRs.
  • Seth Kellogg (7) had a great first meet, including a 2.47 second drop in 50 Free.
  • Mary Catherine Hurley (7) is already showing improvement with two (2) PRs in 50 Free, one by 1.00 and another by 1.70.
  • Virginia Hartung (JR) is back after a break from swimming and is improving once again. On Saturday, she cut another .67 seconds from her 100 Free PR.
  • Patrick Hartung (FR) is starting to learn to use his new size to benefit his swimming after a 3.26 second PR in 100 Free. With his improved flip turns, I’m anticipating another PR the next time he swims the event too.
  • Liam Halisky (7) broke :33 in 50 Free after a nice .68 second PR.
  • Orla Haggerty (7) bounced back from her bout with poison ivy to hit a big PR in 50 Free, by 1.55 seconds.
  • Moira Haggerty (FR) also swam 50 faster than she ever has, lowering her PR by .56 seconds.
  • Clare Flynn (8) was part of a heat with nearly all Seton Swimmers, all of whom hit a PR. In Clare’s case, she dropped a big 1.28 seconds.
  • Mick Fioramonti (8) keeps getting faster. It’s just a matter of time before he breaks :30 in the 50 Free with that strong stroke of his.  On Saturday, he got another .76 seconds closer.
  • Elizabeth Dwane (SO) cut a whopping 2.64 seconds from her 50 Back PR leading off a medley relay. She also cut another .56 seconds in her 50 Free.
  • Joey Dealey (FR) rocked the 200 IM, just missing breaking the 3:00 barrier after a .56 second PR. Next time, I know he will do it.
  • Lucy Cunningham (7) dropped a huge 2.39 seconds from her 50 Free PR on Saturday. I understand that her Aunt, former Seton Swim Captain and Superstar Megan (Seale) Davis, will be in the house this coming Saturday to see Lucy swim some more PRs.  I can’t wait to see Meg and her husband, Marine Andrew Davis (another former Seton Swimmer), on Saturday.
  • Jack Champney (8) went back to the site of his first meet last year and swam well again, this time dropping another 1.36 seconds from his 50 Free PR.
  • Emma Catabui (SO) was super on Saturday with two (2) new Personal Records. In 50 Back leading off a medley relay, she cut .71 seconds and in 100 Free she cut 1.10 seconds.
  • Michael Brox (7) is off to a great start for his swimming career at Seton with a big 2.37 second PR in 50 Free.

We Already Have Some State Qualifiers!

The VISAA State Championship Meet in Christiansburg, VA on February 14-15, 2020 is a meet in which swimmers have to hit a qualifying time to swim.  We already have some individual qualifiers after this past weekend:

  • Mairead Geiran (JR) – 200 IM and 100 Fly

We have also qualified some relays.  Girls 200 Medley “A” Relay

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

The Boys 400 Free “A” Relay missed the cut by on .2 seconds.  I’m anticipating that we will get all six (6) possible relays in for the boys and hoping for more than three (3) from the girls.

Note that I did not list which swimmers have specifically qualified because we are allowed to qualify a maximum of only two (2) relays per event and the kids with the fastest splits on those relays at the end of the season will swim.

I anticipate that the competition is going to get fairly intense, particularly on the boy’s side, so if I put you in a relay, make sure you take advantage of the opportunity to swim your fastest possible split.  Looking at some of the splits on Saturday, that clearly was not the case.  We live by the choices we make.

Opportunities for Improvement

It was our first meet, so overall I was pretty pleased with how things went, particularly with the National Anthem (although I saw one swimmer reading the record board instead of looking at the flag).  In spite of that, there are a few areas in which we need to improve:

  • Missed Events – Perhaps it shouldn’t, but it still amazes me that a teenager can’t read what events they are in and get behind the blocks in time for that event. The medley relay was particularly frustrating as I watched kids race for the blocks without even having their cap or the other members of their relay team.  We even had one senior miss an event.
    • If you want to upset me, missing an event will do it.
    • Everyone should show up to the meet already aware of what they are swimming – I posted it on the web site in advance.
    • If you have a question, ask a Manager or a Captain.
  • Swim Caps During Warm-up
    • I always hate having the last warm-up because there is not time between warm-up and the start of the meet to get our act together. That’s why I didn’t have time to address this at the meet.
    • Our Swim Cap is an important part of our uniform. Everyone should be wearing a swim cap during warm-up and during each of their competitive swims
  • Gratitude
    • We need to get better at thanking the Meet Hosts and Officials
      • I blame myself for this. Being sick was not a good excuse.
    • To the credit of some of the Captains, they did this on their own.
      • That’s great!
      • But what I would prefer to see is the Captains approach the meet hosts and officials as a group (or at least Boy Captains and Girl Captains) with some expression of gratitude for hosting us.
    • Everyone else on the team can do the same thing, particularly with the timers in your lanes.
      • They are standing for up to 3 or 4 hours without a break so they deserve our thanks.
      • Again, I became aware from some impressed timers that some of you were already doing this. Nice work!
    • Cheering for Teammates
      • It is quite easy to sit down between your races and just be nervous.
        • I was a swimmer so I certainly understand this.
        • One way around this is to cheer for your teammates.
      • At the next meet, I’d love to see more team members cheering for their teammates before and during their races.
      • I’d especially like to see the whole team up and screaming whenever our “A” Relays hit the water.
        • Captains, I have an idea for this. Let’s talk Saturday.
      • Staying Until the End
        • How would you like to be in the 400 Free Relay and have no one on deck in our team area?
          • I understand that we had some people who were authorized to leave early for the Senior Play, so no problem there.
        • Obviously, there are going to be times when you need to go to the locker room during a meet, so let’s make this our rule of thumb:
          • All swimmers should be on deck, in uniform, for the 1st heat of the 400 Free Relay
          • And all swimmers should participate in the team handshake around the pool, in uniform, immediately following the meet.

Christmas Break Practices

Traditionally, every Christmas Break, we have practices at the Freedom Center for the Varsity swimmers who will be competing in the key Conference and Championship meets starting in January.

There will not be a clear delineation of who and who is not on the Varsity team, so for the purposes of Christmas practices, if you are entered as a scoring swimmer in one of the December meets, then I expect that you will attend as many of the Christmas practices as possible.

I’m still finalizing the schedule with the Freedom Center but I am anticipating practices from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on:

  • Monday, December 23rd
  • Thursday, December 26th
  • Monday, December 30th
  • Thursday, January 2nd

If you are in town, please plan on being at practice.  I’m sure that Trinity Christian will be working hard.

Cystic Fibrosis Swim-a-Thon

If you look under Meet Information, you will see some details on our annual New Year’s Eve Cystic Fibrosis Swim-a-thon, including how to set up your fundraising page and which fundraising team you are on.

  • By now, your team captain should have contacted you. If they haven’t, contact them.
  • Everyone who is in town should plan to swim, but even if you are out of town on New Year’s Eve, you can help us raise money.
    • The Given’s have made it really easy:
      • Find the instruction page under “Meet Announcements”
      • Click on the link to set up your fundraising page
      • Send a few e-mails to family and friends asking for a modest sponsorship
    • If everyone does a little, we should be able to break $10,000 this year.

We’re off to a great start this season – great job!  Two more December meets on the next two Saturdays.  Expect to swim something different in all of those meets.

See you at practice,

Coach Jim Koehr

Click to access the login or register cheese