Sorry it took me a while to get to this blog, but it was not because I wasn’t excited about what I saw in the water during the Time Trials on Friday night, November 14th.  At the time, we’d only had five (5) days in the water, and we’d only concentrated on learning freestyle so far, but I was very excited for the progress I’m already seeing.  I was equally excited both about some of the swimmers who were more in the background last season that are clearly going to be in the foreground this season and the early progress of the 25 new, young swimmers on the team this season.  The future looks promising.

For those families new to the team, let me give you a little of the background philosophy behind this blog – a weekly summary of what happened during the weekend’s swim meet.  I equate success with excellence – in all we do – because I believe that excellence is not merely compatible with Catholicism – excellence is required by Catholicism.  So my working definition of success is this: I am successful when I am maximizing my abilities and helping others to do that same.

That is why you will always see an emphasis from me on improvement.  It does not matter where you are today.  What matters is that you are working hard to get better tomorrow.   Of course, improvement doesn’t really happen on the weekend, it just shows up on the weekend.  Improvement happens on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday morning.

One of our primary improvement metrics is Personal Records or “PRs”.  Every time you hit the water, I’m looking for a personal best effort.  That does not always result in a PR, but, barring extraordinary circumstances, eventually it will.  So the purpose of our annual time trials meet is to ensure that we have a baseline on every kid against which to measure progress.

And the purpose of this blog is to highlight those improvements.  Unfortunately, I simply cannot highlight the performances of 76 kids every week.  I will do my best to highlight all 76 at some point, but one thing I guarantee:  If you swim a PR, you will be highlighted.

All of this is not to say that we don’t care about winning.  That would be silly, but I have noticed that if everyone on the team is consistently getting better, then the winning seems to take care of itself.

Team Captains

I was very pleased to announce our Captains for this season:

  • Girls
    • Alex Sinner
    • Claire Kenna
    • Meghan O’Malley
    • Michaela Pennefather
  • Boys
    • Andrew Bishop
    • Tommy Flook
    • Paul Pechie
    • Mark Fioramonti
    • Patrick Pennefather

I typically expect quite a bit from my Captains as leaders of our team, particularly in the way of service to others.  It is the Captains that I am looking to in order to help establish the culture on the team, set an example of excellence, and help others on the team at every opportunity.

Where Did That Come From?

Every year at Time Trials, there always seem to be some kids that make themselves impossible not to notice.  Their performances are so far beyond my expectations that it is simply exciting to see.  Here are some of the kids who made me turn to another coach as say “who’s that?!”

  • Alex Ceol (FR), only a freshman, is already showing that he’s going to a big impact on our boy’s team this year. He’s clearly grown, and he clearly had a productive summer.  How about a 7.70 second PR in 100 Breaststroke?  Or a 3.63 second PR in 100 Free where he broke 1:00 for the first time?  Alex also crushed the :30 second barrier in 50 Free with a 2.35 second PR to go 28.09, and he lowered his 100 Back PR by 1.07 seconds.  Finally, I was very excited to see him go 30.33 in 50 Fly which was the 2nd fastest time on the team!
  • Brian Koehr (JR) turned my head with that 100 Free – a 1.30 second PR to go 55.33 after only 5 days in the water! Wait until he gets in shape!  Brian was the fastest swimmer on the team in every event that we swam at Time Trials.  That surprised even me, his not completely objective father.  I was also excited to see him cut .45 seconds from his 100 Back and 3.31 seconds from his 50 Fly.  I think we have a State and National Catholic qualifier here if he works hard in practice.
  • Mark O’Donohue (JR) stunned all of us watching with that 50 Free – a .52 second PR to go 26.39 which was the 2nd fastest time on the team. He also cut 7.89 seconds in 100 Back, 3.94 seconds in 100 Free (almost broke 1:00!) and 3.52 seconds in 50 Fly.  Mark is definitely on my radar now since I expect that, with those times, he’ll be on our “A” Relays.  Now it is time to work hard in practice and start to pay attention the finer points of the sport.  I’ve very excited to see what the season can look like for Mark.

Our Top Swimmers from Last Season are Back and Looking Good

We finished last season with some very strong performances, particularly from our State Runner-Up girls team.  Several of our top swimmers were unable to attend Time Trials, but some of those top swimmers who were able to attend Time Trials, together with some of our top Boys, made encouraging statements in the water:

  • Anna Kenna (FR) was our top finisher in 4 of the 6 events that we swam including 100 Back, 100 Free, 50 Fly and 50 Free. I’d expect Anna to be able to compete in the Finals at States this year in Back, Free or Fly.  It is going to be very exciting to see how she develops.  Core body strength to enhance those big underwaters that she has will be a key to her success I think.
  • Claire Kenna (JR) looks to be getting back in form to anchor our “A” Relays again this season. Our focus with her this season is going to be the kick that she can put behind her sprint freestyle.  I was also impressed to see her swim the fastest time on the team for 100 Breast and drop .95 seconds from her 50 Fly PR.
  • Andrew Quinan (JR) is one of our returning All-Conference swimmers, and he is already showing that he came to play by swimming the 3rd or 4th fastest times on the team in 4 of the 5 events that he swam. Had I let him swim 200 Free, I’d bet he would have done even better than that.  I was incredibly pleased to see four (4) PRs with all of that including a 6.47 second PR in 100 Free to break 1:00 for the first time, a 4.98 second PR in 50 Fly, a .95 second {R in 100 Back and a .05 second PR in 50 Free.  Andrew should be a fixture on some of our “A” Relays for this season and next.
  • Kimberly Rector (JR) has carried the ball for us in the distance events for several seasons now, and has already been training with QDD to prepare for this season. Already she has shown improvement in shorter events like the 100 Free where she cut .26 seconds from her PR.  When you swim at Kimberly’s level, a PR at this point in the season is a really, really good sign.  Kimberly finished in the top 3 in every event at Time Trials, including a 1st place finish in the 200 Free.  The key to Kimberly’s improvement this season is going to be her walls – I look forward to working with her on that.

A Surprising Number of Personal Records (PRs)

We’d only been in the water a total of 5 days with some cross country runners having swum even less, but somehow we managed a surprisingly high 95 personal records.  If you didn’t get a PR, there’s absolutely no reason to be concerned.  The way I look at it, if you were anywhere near you be previous best time, you had an amazing performance – wait until you get back into shape!

But here were some more kids who managed to swim personal records in spite of their limited time in the water:

  • Edith Barvick (8) cut 3.20 seconds from her PR in 100 Free, 1.84 seconds from her PR in 100 Back and .26 seconds from her PR in 100 Breast.
  • Ashley Cackett (FR) lowered her 100 Free PR by .67 seconds, her 100 Back PR by 3.48 seconds and her 100 Breast PR by 1.99 seconds
  • David Catabui (FR) swam a PR in all five (5) of the events that he swam including an 8.28 second PR in 100 Breast, an 8.20 second PR in 50 Fly, a 6.27 second PR in 100 Free, a 2.72 second PR in 100 Back and a .16 second PR in 50 Free.
  • Tim Costello (JR) had a huge 11.07 second PR in 100 Back – where did that come from? Nice work!  Tim also cut 3.62 seconds from his 50 Fly PR and .78 seconds from his 100 Free PR.
  • Ben Dealey (FR) looked very strong with 3 PRs including a 4.69 second PR in 100 Breast, a 3.55 second PR in 50 Fly and a 3.01 second PR in 100 Free.
  • Joe Fioramonti (FR) also showed some really big improvements with 4 PRs. Joe cut 7.52 seconds in 100 Back, 6.88 seconds in 50 Fly, 5.92 seconds in 100 Free and .80 seconds in 50 Free.  His 100 Back was the 6th fastest on the whole boy’s team!
  • Mark Fioramonti (SR) has really been listening to the freestyle instruction he’s been getting – how about an 11.64 second PR in 100 Free! I can’t wait to see what Mark does after we finish working on backstroke because he cut 1.38 seconds before we even started.
  • Matt Fioramonti (JR) cut 1.47 seconds in 100 Free and came within .14 seconds of breaking the 1:00 barrier. He also cut 2.38 seconds from his 50 Fly, .03 seconds from his 100 Back and an amazing 11.10 seconds from his 100 Breast.  That backstroke was the 3rd fastest on the team.
  • Tommy Flook managed a pair of early season PRs – one in 100 Breast by 1.80 seconds and the other in 100 Free by .59 seconds. Tommy swam the 2nd fastest times on the team in three events and the third fastest times on the team in 2 other events.  Clearly, he’s going to be key to our scoring this season.
  • Patrick Hall (JR) had particularly good swims in 100 Breast with a 4.88 second PR and in 50 Fly with a .63 second PR.
  • Rosie Hall (FR) obviously picked something up about butterfly late last season, and it showed with a 11.53 second PR in the 50 Fly. She also cut 1.36 seconds in 100 Breaststroke.
  • Bernadette Hassan (8) also showed some big improvement in 50 Fly over her time from last year’s time trials, dropping 12.47 seconds! And her 100 Breaststroke wasn’t bad either – she swam a .08 second PR
  • Emily Heim (JR) plans on working toward being a four (4) stroke swimmer this season, and she had a great start at Time Trials with a .92 second PR in 50 Fly and a .40 second PR in 100 Back.
  • Mary Heim (8) is ready to start her first Varsity level competition, and she showed it with an early-season .13 second PR in 100 Free
  • John Paul Kleb (SO) returns to the team to continue the more than a decade long tradition of Klebs on the Seton Swim Team. He has a nice start this season with a 3.05 second PR in 100 Breast.
  • Shane Koehr (7) who will be officially joining Seton Swimming next season hit PRs in all 5 events that he swam, including a 3.17 second PR in 100 Free, a 4.11 second PR in 100 Breast, a 1.98 second PR in 50 Free, a 1.29 second PR in 100 Back and a 0.01 second PR in 50 Fly. Shane has the strong potential to be a true four (4) stroke swimmer for us in the future.
  • Tommy Moore (JR) is clearly trying hard in practice this season so I was happy to see him cut .03 seconds in 100 Back.
  • John O’Donohue (SR) has some real potential to shine in his senior year. He started doing just that with a 2.31 second PR in 50 Fly and a .45 second PR in 100 Back.
  • Peter O’Donohue (8) came back to the team and is already learning. His freestyle in particular has already shown big improvement with a 6.10 second PR in the 100.  Peter also cut 3.09 seconds in 100 Breast and 5.52 seconds in 50 Fly.
  • Bridget O’Malley (FR) looked better than ever in 50 Free with a 2.43 second PR, and she also looked good with that .84 second PR in 100 Free. I can’t wait to see what she can do when she starts to keep her head down when she breaths!
  • Meghan O’Malley (JR) continues to improve. At Time Trials, she swam 3 PRs including a 2.20 second drop in 50 Fly, a 1.08 drop in 100 Free, and a .65 seconds drop in 100 Breast.
  • Michaela Pennefather (JR) is back with a vengeance after a hiatus from the team. With such a small amount of training under her belt, it was great to see her cut 3.57 seconds from her 100 Free PR, 1.53 seconds from her 100 Breast PR and 1.31 seconds from her 50 Fly PR.  Our goal is going to be to make her a 4 stroke swimmer, and from her times at Time Trials, I’m very optimistic that we will get there.
  • Martin Quinan (FR) really pays close attention to his coaches late last season and to Coach Sarah Heim so far this season so it didn’t surprise me to see him cut 4.76 seconds in 100 Breast, 3.87 seconds in 50 Fly and .44 seconds in 100 Back.
  • Katharine Rowzie (7) had a big drop in 100 Back – 10.45 seconds! She also cut 4.63 seconds in 100 Breaststroke, 1.33 seconds in 50 Fly and .86 seconds in 50 Free.  It’s going to be fun to watch her grow up in Seton Swimming.
  • Brendan Santschi (FR) is hard worker in practice and it is already showing with his 5.85 second PR in 100 Back, his 3.89 second PR in 100 Breast, and his .40 second PR in 50 Free.
  • Madeline Snider (JR) is going to score a lot of points for us this season, especially if she keeps dropping 4.04 seconds in 50 Fly and 1.89 seconds in 100 Breaststroke.
  • Dominic Wittlinger (FR) really wants to get better, so I was very pleased to see him hit a PR in every Time Trials event. He cut 5.20 seconds in 100 Free, 2.67 seconds in 100 Breast, 2.39 seconds in 100 Back, 1.91 seconds in 50 Fly and .70 seconds in 50 Free.  In that 50 Free, he broke the :30 second barrier for the first time!
  • Vivian Zadnik (JR) lowered her 100 Free PR by 1.52 seconds.

Some New Faces to Watch

We have twenty-five (25) new kids on the team this year.  That’s a very high number, even for Seton Swimming.  Personally I enjoy seeing such a high percentage of the school population experience Seton Swimming and our philosophy of excellence in all things.  It is also exciting to see new faces emerge as promising performers for this season or future seasons.

While it would be impractical to list everyone, here are a couple swimmers, who have already struck me so far this season:

  • Caroline Griffin (7), only a 7th grader, was also a real head turner at Time Trials. Not many 7th graders swim a 1:12.54 in 100 Free or a 1:16.59 in 100 Bake or a 33.35 in 50 Free.  Her 100 Back was the 5th fastest on the team!  I was really impressed with what I saw from Caroline already!
  • RJ Kenna (7) is the last in a long line of Kenna’s on the Seton Swim Team, and it is already looking like he’s going to hold up the family name well. He looks to me like he has the potential to be one the four (4) stroke swimmers we are trying develop here at Seton – I can’t wait to get some time with him teaching him the fine points of each stroke so we can really see what he can do!

Great New Additions to the Coaching Staff

At Seton Swimming, we are very lucky to have so many Assistant Coaches – without them, I would not be freed up to spend my personal time on what I do best and what has the biggest impact: Methodically teaching every kid about every stroke and every wall.  Then, with these great assistants, our staff as a whole can concentrate on re-enforcing these technical lessons as well as pushing for cardiovascular fitness.

Returning to the coaching staff this year are long-time Seton coaches, Rich Lowell and Jerry Zadnik.  They have been anchors for this team for a long time now.

We are not missing a beat with the coaches we lost from last season.  Former coach and Seton parent DD Ross is back now that her kids are out of college.  Since she left Seton, she was the head swim coach at Stonewall High School and she currently coaches a Prince William USA Swim Team.  How great it is to have her come back to share that great experience with us all.

And I was so excited to hear in the off-season that former Team Captain and Seton graduate Sarah Heim wanted to come back and coach.  She’s helping with three (3) lanes of younger swimmers and is perfect for the job – she’s seen what we teach for 7 years!  Thank you Sarah for coming back to help.

Finally, to fill in with the beginners and whenever another coach is out, we’ve returned to idea of swimmer-coaches.  Alex Sinner and Dani Flook, who are both getting loads of water time with their USA teams are often available after their USA team practice (yes, they practice even earlier than Seton) to step in and teach.  Swimmer-Coaches have been a stalwart of our approach since we found so much success doing it with Connor Cook and Lauren “the Machine” Donohoe.

Next Week

This coming week, we’ll start breaststroke and butterfly.  We’ve already been through freestyle and backstroke, including the starts (see picture above).  All that is left for us to do with those two strokes is the turn.

By Christmas, the other coaches and I hope to build every stroke and every wall with every swimmer from scratch.  The fastest way to get faster is to do the strokes right, so try not to miss practice and try not to just “swim through” the sets we are doing.  If you treat each practice like a priceless opportunity to get better, you will get better.

See you Monday morning,

Coach Jim Koehr

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