It was a very busy weekend for Seton Swimming with six (6) of our top girls and three (3) of our top boys at Loyola University in Baltimore for the National Catholic High School Championship, and the rest of our team at Seton’s annual Winter Invitational at Freedom. It was definitely easier than prior years without the March for Life on the same weekend, but it was still a very hectic weekend for sure.
Over the past several years, we’ve begun to rent AirBnB houses for the team to stay rather than hotels. It has worked wonderfully well, facilitating team meals and gatherings between sessions that are so much nicer than waiting in lines at restaurants and gathering in hotel lobbies.
This year, we had the best place yet, an 1850s mansion just off the historic Charles Street north, of the Inner Harbor. The house had plenty of room for the entire team, a large kitchen, and an art collection of museum quality. It was a lot of fun having everyone together in such a beautiful place.
The meet itself featured girls Preliminaries on Saturday morning (February 18th), boys Preliminaries on Saturday afternoon, and Finals on Sunday afternoon. As it is every year, the meet was incredibly fast. We even got to see a young man named Tyler Christianson (remember that name) go 1:46 in 200 IM and :54 in 100 Breaststroke – incredible! Tyler will be attending the University of Notre Dame next year – Go Irish! We weren’t that fast, but almost everyone on the team swam season best times, some by very wide margins.
Congratulations to Seton’s 2020 National Catholic Team:
- Mairead Geiran (11)
- Caroline Griffin (12)
- Anne Konstanty (12)
- Emily Flynn (10)
- Isabelle Luevano (10)
- Mary Pennefather (9)
- Shane Koehr (12)
- Drew Dalrymple (12)
- Christian Ceol (12)
Mairead Geiran Medaled!
As with most championship meets, the top 8 qualifiers from the Preliminaries advance to the Championship Final (sometimes called the “A-Final”) and the next 8 qualifiers advance to the Consolation Final (sometimes called the “B-Final”).
Coming into the meet, Mairead was seeded 14th in the 200 Free, and we had no other individual swimmers seeded in the top-16. Our Mairead Geiran over-achieved in that event – qualifying for the A-Final and ultimately medaling in 7th place!
Her preliminary swim was her best swim of the meet. She took it out in 27.41 at the 50 and 57.10 at the 100. She was able to bring it home for the last 100 to finish in a PR 1:59.20. That was .23 seconds faster than her time at States last year and 4.42 seconds faster than her best time so far this season.
In the Finals, Mairead took it out even faster, covering the first 100 yards in 56.12 to her feet. Considering that her 100 Free time leading off the 400 Free Relay later in the meet was 55.91, that first 100 split was blazing fast! Too fast as it turned out, but that didn’t keep her from finishing in a very fast 2:00.35 and holding her 7th place seed.
I love it when swimmers take a risk to go faster. It was my favorite swim of the meet for that reason. It doesn’t always work out, but in this case, it didn’t cost her a thing because she held her seed.
Great work, Mairead!
Mary Pennefather Reaches a Historical Standard
Mary Pennefather (FR) was the other individual swimmer who made it to the Sunday Finals. Mary beat her 50 Free PR by .01 seconds to go 26.20 and ultimately take 16th place in the Finals.
But that wasn’t Mary’s most impressive swim. Mary finally swam the 100 Free like Coach Mulhern and I both knew she was capable. Engaging a big kick and keeping her head quiet, Mary cut 2.03 seconds to go 57.52, an amazing time for a freshman. That qualified her as the 1st alternate in 17th place – but that’s not why I was so impressed.
To understand why I am so excited about this, let’s put her swim in a historical perspective for Seton Swimming. I looked back at Lauren “the Machine” Donohoe’s freshman time at National Catholics. You see Lauren on our record board multiple times. Lauren was the anchor for our relays her entire career at Seton and won the silver medal as a Junior in 100 Free at the 2010 State Championship. At that same State Championship, Lauren also won Gold in the 50 Free and anchored our Gold medal 200 Free Relay. Seton hosted the State meet that year.
Lauren’s time as a freshman at National Catholics was 57.41.
Click here to see videos of the 2010 State Champs 50 Free and 200 Free Relay on our site. Let it keep running so you can see my personal video, the live stream from SwimmingWorld.tv, and the SwimmingWorld.tv interviews of our swimmers. That Girls 200 Free Relay was one of my two all-time favorite Seton races ever along with our 2006 State Championship Boys Medley Relay.
All of our Girls Relays Qualified for Finals
Coming into the meet, I saw the possibility that no one might be swimming in the Finals. Led by Mairead, our girls rose to the challenge in the relays also – all three (3) of them qualified for the Consolation Finals!
- Our Girls 200 Medley Relay of Caroline Griffin, Mairead Geiran, Emily Flynn and Mary Pennefather dropped a huge 4.00 seconds to go 1:58.11 and jump up the 11th seed for Finals. The highlights started with Caroline’s lead-off 31.69 which was right on her best 50 Back split of the season. Mairead split a blazing 31.87 (1.07 faster than her season best) followed by Emily’s blazing 29.18 (previous best this season was 30.46!) and Mary Pennefather’s amazing 25.37 (her PR is 26.21).
- Update from Finals: Wow! Our girls held their 11th place seed but swam a much faster 1:57.51. Mairead, Emily, and Mary all matched their very fast Preliminary splits, so the drop came mainly from Caroline’s best 50 back split of the season. Her 30.48 was nearly a whole second faster than she’s done so far this season.
- At States, we are going to need to get this relay into the A-Final if we have a chance to win. I think they can do it.
- Our Girls 200 Free Relay of Anne Konstanty, Caroline Griffin, Emily Flynn and Isabelle Luevano entered the meet seeded 21st, dropped 1.30 seconds from their season best to go 1:51.78, and ended up in the B-Final seeded 15th! Everyone swam well, but it was Caroline’s the big drop that made the difference here. With a renewed emphasis on her underwater off of the walls, she split 27.14 on a previous season best of 29.34. Interestingly, she had the same sort of drop last year when I wrote “Caroline’s incredible 26.67 (her current PR is 28.97)”.
- Update from Finals: They dropped again to 1:50.13 with more of the girls getting in on the PR celebration – that jumped them to a 14th place finish. Caroline split an even faster 26.73, while Emily dropped to 27.43 (season best previously was 27.48) and Isabelle dropped to 26.89 (season best previously was 27.42).
- Congratulations girls for unexpectedly jumping into the Finals with your great swimming!
- Our Girls 400 Free Relay of Mairead Geiran, Anne Konstanty, Isabelle Luevano and Mary Pennefather jumped up into the Finals from the 23rd seed to the 12th seed with a 3:57.46! The big difference came from Mary Pennefather’s 57.99 split (season best previously was 59.55) and Mairead Geiran’s 56.39 (season best previously was 57.84)
- Update from Finals: 3:54.55 for 12th place! A 2.91 second drop from Prelims and easily Seton’s best 400 Free Relay time of the season. Mary Pennefather dropped again to a lifetime-best 56.01 and Mairead Geiran also dropped again to a season-best 55.91. But it was Isabelle Luevano who provided the biggest spark on Sunday. Her 58.91 was 1.38 seconds faster than her lifetime-best flat start, giving her the 3rd fastest 100 Freestyle split on the team so far this year.
- Last year at States, our 400 Free Relay qualified in 13th place with a 3:58.81. Let see if we can score even more points this year!
Top 16 swims in a meet like this are always impressive, but we had several other impressive swims also, particularly from our three senior boys who qualified:
- Shane Koehr (SR) was a beast in the 50 and 100 Free! His 24.08 in the 50 was a .39 second PR giving him the 2nd fastest flat-start 50 Free on the team now. His 100 Free was even more impressive. Shane went 53.81, a .95 second PR, and he now has the fastest 100 Free time on the team by nearly 1 whole second. It was a great weekend for Shane!
- Drew Dalrymple (SR) rocked his 50 Free with a .34 second PR 23.88. That’s the fastest flat start 50 on the team now. He also cut a huge 2.21 seconds in 100 Free to go 54.80 and jump up to the second fastest 100 Free time on the team.
- Christian Ceol (SR) completed the string of great swims by our boys with a .09 second PR 34.39 in 50 Free and a 1.10 second PR 55.90 in 100 Free. Those times put Christian in the 4th spot in the “A” Relays for both the 200 Free and 400 Free – for now.
- Caroline Griffin (SR) is back! Her 100 Fly was amazing, 4.18 seconds faster than her season-best so far. The difference was in her underwaters. Coach Mulhern was very excited about that. Her 100 Back was also a season-best by 2.65 seconds. Caroline finished 38th and 25th, respectively, in her two individual events.
- Emily Flynn (SO) had her best swim in 100 Fly where she cut .68 seconds from her PR to go 1:08.14 and finish in 42nd
- Isabelle Luevano (SO) had a great 50 Free, lowering her PR by another .22 seconds to go 27.04 and finish in 44th She also took 40th place in a 100 Free with a 1:00.37, right on her PR.
- Anne Konstanty (SR) was our highest placing girl besides Mairead and Mary with a 28th place finish in 500 Free and a 36th place finish in 200 Free.
It was truly a great weekend. The way we swam, particularly our girls, makes me think it is possible to compete successfully at States for another Division II Championship. It’s a long-shot given the number of points that the top girls from Trinity Christian and Williamsburg Christian can score individually, but if we score big with Mairead and Mary in all three (3) relays, and if Mairead can make the Championship Final in 200 Free, Mary can make the B-Final in 100 Free and Caroline can score in 100 Back, we may just be able to get enough points to pull it off.
For the time being though, let’s go win the VISAA Division II Invitational and DAC Champs for both the boys and the girls!
Coach Jim Koehr