704 Swimmers from 52 Teams, music blasting, kids singing and dancing, cheering human bananas, hugs and tears from Seniors swimming for the last time, Seton families gathering between sessions at our rental house for a Pasta and a Chinese food feast, and most importantly, loads of huge PR times from our Swimmers plus All-State and All-America swims from Anna Kenna and a Girls third place finish in Division II – these were just a few of the highlights from the 2018 VISAA State Swim and Dive Championship at the beautiful new Jeff Rouse Swim and Sport Center in Stafford, VA.
Last weekend (Feb 16-17, 2018), we took 24 swimmers and a like number of parents and siblings into this incredibly fast meet – and swimming I saw from our team was beyond my expectations. Our kids always seem to excel on the big stage every year at States, but even I was amazed by the results. We had huge drops from a number of swimmers, including a relay that dropped 12 seconds and several swimmers that had multi-second drops in their individual events and relay splits.
Seton wasn’t officially a co-host the meet, but I was so proud to watch Bill Dealey, Jim Griffin and Hank Konstanty working with Ginger Schmidt of Trinity Christian School to manage all of the timing and scoring systems, Charles Seltman who served as one of the Starters and Deck Referees, and Therese Griffin who served as a Stroke and Turn Judge. The meet required about 125 volunteers, and little Seton was able to fill many of the key roles. Seton definitely shined last weekend, both in and out of the water. And you simply would not have believed how beautiful Marcie Van de Voorde and Catie Moore’s harmonic version of the National Anthem sounded. Absolutely angelic.
It was an incredibly fun trip for our team. For the fourth time, we tried renting a house off of VRBO so we had a place to gather between sessions for comradery and team meals. Thanks to the leadership of Mrs. Dalrymple, we had wonderful team meals that didn’t require long waits for restaurants to serve drinks and take orders. Every family pitched in to provide meals including the Geiran’s, Griffin’s, Cackett’s, Rowzie’s, and Santschi’s. A special thank you to the Kenna’s and Lobster Maine-ia for supplying fresh caught seafood and clam chowder! I’m quite sure no other team was eating like we were at States this year!
One conversation that I had with another coach made me particularly proud. She approached me and said, that “I’m trying to make my team better. Your team has such a presence on deck. What do you do?” I think the answer is that I’m just part of the Seton community. Based on that conversation, it didn’t surprise me at all that we were voted by the other coaches for the VISAA Spirit Award – again.
I was also fortunate enough to be voted by the other coaches as the co-VISAA Women’s Team Coach of the Year. My wife always tells me that I get more from coaching swimming than I give. This is just another example.
Here’s an excerpt from the scoring of a very exciting meet – particularly on the girl’s side where the overall State Championship came down the final relay between the Madeira School and Norfolk Academy. I’ve never heard a pool so loud!
- Madeira School 294
- Norfolk Academy 293.5
- Collegiate School 233
- St. Catherine’s School 218
- Bishop O’Connell 186
- Flint Hill School 160
- Trinity Episcopal 149
- Potomac School 123
- St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes 118
- Hampton Roads Academy 92 – Division II Champ
- Paul VI 82
- Trinity Christian School 71 – Division II Runner-Up
- Seton School 49
- Norfolk Academy 337
- Collegiate School 223
- St. Christopher’s School 196
- St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes 156
- St. Anne’s Belfield 130
- Trinity Episcopal 124
- Potomac School 121
- Hampton Roads Academy 114 – Division II Champ
- Woodberry Forest 110
- Bishop O’Connell 104
- Fork Union Military Academy 99
- Paul VI 89
- North Cross School 61 – Division II Runner-Up
Recall that our State Championship is scored like one big championship meet. The team with the highest point total is declared the “Overall” State Champion, and the Division II team with the most points is declare d the “Division II” State Champion. For the 7th year in a row, Hampton Roads Academy took the Division II Championship for both Boys and Girls.
Anna Kenna had the Meet of Her Life!
There were so many great swims over the weekend, but as she’s been all season for Seton, Anna Kenna was star of show when the lights were the brightest. Listing her accomplishments of All-America Consideration, All-State recognition, a Bronze Medal and 4th place individual finishes, and three (3) new team records just doesn’t seem capture what I saw from Anna in the water this past weekend.
Anna started the meet on Friday with just a single swim with the Butterfly leg in the 200 Medley Relay. Anna was joined by Caroline Griffin (SO, back), Mary Heim (JR, breast), and Mary Pennefather (8, free) to score in 13th place overall with a season best 1:57.13 led by Mary’s season best split 26.29 and Anna’s nearly unbelievable 50 Butterfly splits.
In the Finals, Anna split 24.93 in 50 Butterfly (not a typo!). If you scan down the meet results report, you will see that split was easily the fastest in the meet – by almost a whole second! I knew Anna was in for a special weekend after that.
Even going into Saturday morning, Anna and I were wondering if we should have put her in 50 Free rather than 100 Free, because our choice meant that she had to swim three times on Saturday morning and Saturday night. 50 Free can be such a crap shoot and Anna really wanted Alex Doonis’ 100 Free Records of 52.91. Knowing that we were more competitive in the 200 Free Relay where she could lead off to go for Alex Doonis’ 50 Free records, we went the Saturday-heavy version of her program. I don’t think it could have worked out any better.
Anna entered the meet with a 100 Free PR of 53.08 which had her seeded 7th. In the Saturday morning prelims, Anna took it out very fast at 25.02 and finished in a stunning 52.05, crushing the team record that Alex Doonis set winning the Gold medal at the National Catholic High School Championship in 2012. She was seeded 3rd for the Finals, ahead of some of the biggest names in VISAA swimming including Paige Hall, Bronwyn Keating and Maddie Heilbrun.
In the Finals, Anna took her 100 Free out even faster, in 24.67, and finished in 4th place with a 52.12. Third place came in at a blazing 51.54. After the race, I asked Anna how she thought she would have responded if I told her the day before that she’s go 52.05 and 52.12 and finish 4th in 100 Free. She told me that she would not have believed me. I’m not sure I would have believed me either, but that’s what she did!
Only the 500 Free is between 100 Free and the 200 Free Relay, so this required a quick turn-around for Anna, particularly in Prelims when there were no medal ceremonies to slow things down. After a quick warm-down during the 500 Free prelims, Anna was up on the blocks again to lead off our 200 Free Relay. She was joined by Julia Rowzie (SR), Isabelle Luevano (8) and Mary Pennefather (8). Anna missed the team record by only .03 seconds in Prelims with a 24.42, but strong swimming by her teammates, especially Julia Rowzie’s lifetime best split of 27.65 got them into the consolation Finals seeded 12th. Anna would have another chance.
That night, the turnaround after her 100 Free seemed even shorter than we thought. I asked Anna if she wanted me to replace her in the Relay so she could concentrate on 100 Back, but in spite of my wavering on the topic, Anna was determined to get that elusive 50 Free record.
Anna never saw this part, but I was in our team area telling the Ashley Cackett and Katharine Rowzie to somehow find a suit for Mary Heim in case I needed her for the 200 Free Relay. In retrospect, I have to chuckle when I think of the look on Mary’s face when I first brought up the idea in very serious tones.
In the end, Anna’s confidence was repaid with a dominating lead-off leg in that night’s consolation Final of the 200 Free Relay. Anna was more than a body length ahead so I knew the only question was by how much did she beat the record. The answer to that questions was “by a lot”. When I looked up, I was not surprised to see a new team record of 24.06. The 24.39 that had been so elusive all season long was finally beaten – but what did she have left for 100 Back?
Given the competition in 100 Back, I felt like the real goal was to become All-State and hopefully All-America. All-State is a top-3 finish in the meet, and All-America is a top-100 Finish in a high school meet in the country during the season.
Because they obviously have no way to know how fast you have to go to be in the Top 100, the way NISCA does it is they establish two qualifying times. The All-America Automatic time (the so-called “A” cut) is set at a time where NISCA is sure you are in the Top 100 if you hit it. For 100 Back this year, that time is 55.05. Then then establish a 2nd All-America Consideration time (the so-called “B” cut) which is intended to indicate that you have a chance to be in the Top 100 so it is worth your time to submit the time for “consideration”. The year, the “B cut” was 56.30. Anna entered the meet with a PR of 56.83.
In the 100 Back Prelims, I was anxious to see how Anna would feel because 100 Back is immediately after the 200 Free Relay. Would that 50 Free sprint tire her just a bit too much or would it actually serve as a final warm-up before the 100? As soon as I saw her swim through the first turn in prelims, I had a great feeling. She was super quick off the start and awesome under the water (both normal for her) and by the time she surfaced after the first turn, she was dominating the first circle seeded heat. When she split 27.30, I felt like she would probably go about 57.0. When she went 56.83 at National Catholics, she had split 27.25. But in the end, I was completely wrong to be worried. She came back in only 28.82 to finish well under the AA-B cut with a 56.12 to take the 3rd seed for that evening’s Finals.
During the break back at the house, I did a little research with Coach Lowell. How far under the AA-B cut would she have to be to be assured that she would ultimately become an All-America? Looking at last year’s results, the AA-B cut was just slightly slower, but it took a 55.83 to make it into the Top 100. Given that swimmers don’t generally get slower year-to-year, I was feeling like even a great time like 56.12 might not get the job done.
It was the results of that research that led to me grabbing Mary Heim and telling her she needed to find a suit “just in case”.
Now fast forward to the Saturday evening Finals. Anna has crushed the 100 Free and the 50 Free lead-off, and she was trying to make the very fast turn around to 100 Back. The only thing in between was the Boys Final for the 200 Free Relay and a medal ceremony, so there turned out to be only about 20 minutes.
But that turned out to be plenty. Anna was seeded 3rd against some very fast girls, including a girl who is going to swim at the University of Georgia next year. When Anna hit the first turn in the Finals in first place, I knew we were in for something special. And then when I saw her turn at 27.05 to her feet, I really knew something special was happening. Our team record for 50 Back (held by Anna of course) is 27.03 – she almost broke her own team record on the front half of a 100 yard race on a turn! Two more strong underwaters and a long reach for the finish – she popped up, looked at the Board and almost started crying. I hadn’t looked back at the Board yet, but I knew from her reaction and from how close she was to the future Georgia swimmer that it was amazing. And it was – 55.62! Anna had won the Bronze medal in 100 Back, claimed All-State honors!
All that is left now is for me to submit her All-America application to NISCA and hope she’s in the Top 100. A 55.62 is certainly much more likely to find success, but we’ll just have to see. If that time prevails, Anna will join the most elite group of all-time Seton Swimming greats, Kevin Koehr, Nevin Cook and Jameson Hill, as an All-American swimmer!
Anna Kenna’s future as a swimmer at William & Mary now seems unbelievably bright. By sticking with her multi-sport regimen through middle school and the early years of high school, and not starting serious USA swimming until her Junior year, Anna was able to explore her many athletic gifts but still achieve her wildest dreams in high school swimming. Now, unlike so many other girls she’ll see in college who have been pushing hard in USA swimming for many years and are a bit burned out, Anna is fresh and ready for Coach Matt Crispino to help her become an All-America for William & Mary too. I can’t wait to see what Anna can do with the great coaching she’s about to get in Williamsburg.
See Anna’s 100 Back Preliminary swim here
See Anna’s 100 Back Finals swim here
See Anna’s 100 Free Preliminary swim here
See Anna’s 100 Free Finals swim here
See Anna’s 50 Free Record and our whole 200 Free Relay here
Seton Individual State Qualifiers, a Harbinger of Seton’s Strong Future
It is easy to focus on the accomplishments of Anna, but we had four (4) other individual qualifiers for the State Championships, and three (3) of them were underclassmen. I was very excited about what I saw from them also:
- Mary Heim (JR) had an amazing meet, particularly in her signature breaststroke. After just making the cut at DAC Champs the week before, Mary entered the meet seeded 41st, but that’s not how she exited the meet. In her Preliminary heat, Mary swam an amazing 2.61 second PR to go 1:16.11 and jump all the way up to 29th! Then in the Bonus 50 Free, Mary took full advantage of the extra opportunity to swim with a 1.11 second PR to go 27.57 – that’s a huge drop in a 50!
- David Flook (SO) also had an amazing two weeks in the breaststroke. Like Mary, he had a big drop at DAC Champs to just get under the cut and enter the meet seeded deep into the field. Then he hit the water for his Preliminary heat, amazingly dropped another 2.59 seconds and went a very fast 1:07.28 to finished 30th
- Caroline Griffin (SO) was super all season for Seton, so I was very pleased to see her end her season with such a great swim in the preliminary heats of 100 Backstroke. She had a big PR, cutting another .49 seconds, to end the year with a new PR of 1:04.69! Caroline also had a 36th place finish in the 200 IM.
- Mary Pennefather (8) wrapped up her first year on the Seton team by being our only middle schooler to qualifying individually for the State Championship meet, a rare accomplishment on any team. In her race, she was just off her outstanding 26.97 PR. I know Mary is also a great basketball player, so I don’t know how much longer she can do both sports, but she sure has made a tremendous contribution to Seton Swimming this season.
- Alex Ceol (SR) was a tremendous captain and leader for us all season long, so I was very excited to see him get one final chance to swim his signature 100 Fly at States to end his senior season. Alex ended up 39th in a very fast field with a time right on his PR.
We also had a number of swimmers qualify for the Bonus 50 Free. This event was for swimmers who had otherwise qualified for the meet and could hit a separate qualifying time. Several of our swimmers took great advantage of this extra opportunity to swim:
- Kevin Geiran (SR) rocked a 24.56 after cutting .43 seconds from his PR
- Felix Seoh (SR) finished his one and only season as a Seton swimmer with a tremendous 50 Free. In his final sprint, he dropped .44 seconds and went a very fast 24.77.
- Katharine Rowzie (SO) got her PR down toe 28.64 after another drop of .33 seconds
- Jerry Dalrymple (FR) dropped .26 seconds for a new PR of 25.55
There Were So Many Other Great Swims in the Relays
Most of our team was in Stafford to swim in Relays, and there were some really outstanding swims buried in those races. Here are a few of the most amazing that I haven’t already talked about:
- I don’t know what was going on with our Boys 400 Free Relays, but we went 8 for 8 on personal best splits:
- Our Boys 400 Free A Relay was awesome with all four (4) swimmers hitting lifetime best splits. They were seeded in 28th place with a 3:45.95 and finished 21st with a 3:40.59. Jack Santschi started off with a 54.98 (a .47 second PR) followed by Kevin Geiran’s43 (previous best 56.95!), Jacob Alsup’s 56.70 (previous best 57.41!) and Alex Ceol’s 53.48 (season best 54.52!).
- Our Boys 400 Free B Relay had even greater drops, ultimately swimming 3:45.29 (faster than the “A” Relay’s seed) on their own seed time of 3:57.36. Drew Dalrymple started off with a .61 second PR 56.82, followed by Ben Ceol’s amazing 55.61 (58.67 previous best), Jerry Dalrymple’s01 (57.93 previous best), and Felix Seoh’s 56.85 (57.79 previous best). Those are really incredible swims!
- Our Boys 200 Medley A Relay of Shane Koehr, Seamus Koehr, Alex Ceol and Ben Ceol just missed making the consolation finals in 20th place after a 1.47 second relay PR. After Shane’s strong lead-off, Seamus rocked a life-time best breaststroke split of 31.42 followed by Alex Ceol’s life-time best Fly split of 26.69. Brother Ben brought it home in 24.18 to jump us up from our 31st seed!
- Our Boys 200 Free A Relay of Jack Santschi, Drew Dalrymple, Kevin Geiran and Ben Ceol moved up to 20th from their 21st seed, just out of the Consolation Finals after they cut .95 seconds from their season PR. Drew’s split was particularly strong at 24.21 compared to a lifetime best of 24.98. Kevin Geiran also rocked with a 24.30 PR split followed by Ben’s 23.94 anchor.
- Our Boys 200 Free B Relay of Jerry Dalrymple, Alex Ceol, Felix Seoh and Jacob Alsup dropped even more time, finishing in 1:40.79 from a seed time of 1:43.17. The big drop came primarily from Jerry Dalrymple’s 25.48 split (25.91 lifetime best) and Alex Ceol’s very fast 24.51 (25.73 lifetime best).
- Our Girls 400 Free B Relay beat their seed time by a whopping 6.23 seconds. Therese Pechie, Ashley Cackett, Anne Konstanty and Isabelle Luevano all swam very well, particularly Isabelle who split 1:01.76!
And here are some other very strong relay swims I saw in Stafford:
- Our Boys 200 Medley B Relay of David Flook, Felix Seoh, Jerry Dalrymple and Drew Dalrymple dropped 1.11 seconds with some strong splits, particulary Felix’s 33.08 and Drew’s 24.50 anchor
- Our Girls 200 Medley B Relay of Ellie Flook, Katie Albin, Emily Flynn and Isabelle Luevano dropped .56 seconds on the strength of strong swims by all four (4) girls. The timing system didn’t get splits for Ellie and Katie, but they must have been pretty strong.
- Our Girls 200 Free B Relay of Katharine Rowzie, Anne Konstanty, Therese Pechie and Mary Heim all swam well, particularly Mary Heim’s anchor of 27.41, a split that was .61 seconds faster than her lifetime best.
- Our Girls 400 Free A Relay of Caroline Griffin, Emily Flynn, Katharine Rowzie and Julia Rowzie dropped almost a whole second on the backs of lifetime best splits from Caroline Griffin and Katharine Rowzie.
Next Season, Conference Champions again?
Even though we had Anna Kenna’s individual greatness this season, you’ve read all season in my blogs about how it was our depth that made the biggest difference in our conference victories. Next season, this is going to be even more the case. Based on our performance at States this year, I can already see that we have a strong core of swimmers coming back to make some relays that will be very competitive in our conference. That is what it is going to take to repeat as Conference Champions.
We also need to have another great recruiting year inside the school. There are plenty of strong swimmers that have either never been on the team or would be great to have back on the team. Seton Swimming is a great community within Seton School. Let’s use the off-season to expand that community for next year.
Awards are All That Remain
Mrs. Dalrymple is coordinating our Awards for Sunday, March 4that Seton School starting at 5:30 p.m. I know she has a Lenten Soup Supper planned featuring seafood chowders from Lobster Maine-ia. I’m traveling a lot this week and next so I’m not exactly sure what is planned beyond that, but I think it may involve ice cream. I’ll put out more details as plans develop.
It certainly has been another great season for Seton, even if it was different from some past years – I’m quite encouraged by our future here. I’ve written in past blogs of the great joy that comes from achieving things that you never thought possible by working hard, believing in yourself and taking a risk. I saw countless examples of that this season, and I’ll tell you true – you swimmers are not the only one who get great joy out of it.
At the end of recent seasons, I also spent a lot of time writing about the power of being a team that has a commonality of purpose, which mutually supports one another, that identifies with each other’s struggles, and that encourages one another to do their best. I feel particularly good about the fact that we were able to tap into that power this year – and the results speak for themselves.
So even though the season it over, we are still a team. I look forward to seeing you all support each other for the rest of the year outside the water the way our State Team supported each other this past weekend in the water.
Coach Jim Koehr