February 17th and 18th, 2012 was a great weekend for Seton Swimming at the VISAA Virginia State Swimming and Diving Championship at the Freedom Center:

  • Our girls took 3rd in Division II and the boys took 6th
  • Alex Doonis and Cat Rogers took the Gold and Silver in 50 Free
  • Alex Doonis broke three (3) team records and Cat Rogers broke one team record
  • Cat Rogers also took bronze in 100 Breaststroke and Vincent “Catfish” Dunn took 4th in 100 Fly
  • Two Divers competed in the finals including Joe Duran took 6th and Sarah Zapiain took 9th
  • We had 2 athletes recognized as All-State
  • The other coaches recognized the Seton Girls for the Sportsmanship Award for the 4th year in a row
  • Our team once again hosted the championship meet for the 5th straight year to much acclaim from the participants, coaches, spectators and Swimming World Magazine

In VISAA Swimming, Division I and Division II compete in a single State Championship Meet and score against each other all together.  Then, VSIS Swimming awards the Overall State Championship to the top scoring team overall and the Division II State Championship to the highest scoring Division II team.  Here’s an excerpt from the overall scoring:


  1. Collegiate School                 331
  2. Catherine’s School              290
  3. Norfolk Academy                170
  4. Trinity Episcopal                  167
  5. Hampton Roads Academy 161 – Division II Champion
  6. Madeira School                    157
  7. Nansemond-Suffolk            118 – Division II Runner-up
  8. Bishop O’Connell                 115
  9. Seton School                         112
  10. Bishop Ireton                       107

     13. Paul VI Catholic HS              54


  1. Woodberry Forest                          222
  2. Hampton Roads Academy           202 – Division II Champion
  3. Bishop O’Connell                          201

3. Collegiate School                           201

5. Christopher’s                                 197

6. Fork Union Military                      170

7. Norfolk Academy                          154

8. Roanoke Catholic                         132 – Division II Runner-up

8. Trinity Episcopal                         132

11. Benedictine College Prep        108

        15. Bishop Ireton                             61

        17. Pope John Paul the Great       37  

         18. Seton School                             35

          26. Paul VI Catholic HS                14

Well, our streak of 4 straight State Championships for the girls ended this past weekend, but not without a caveat.  One important note about our girls score is that we lost 24 points when our girls 200 Medley Relay was disqualified for an early take-off.  Looking at the SwimmingWorld.tv video, I’d say that it was definitely not an early take-off, but two judges called it independently of one another so there is really no argument to make.  If our Medley relay score would have stood, the Seton would have been the Division II runner-up, capping that great run of straight state championships.

In spite of that, our girls beat Bishop Ireton and Paul VI for the 4th year in a row, and we would have also beaten Bishop O’Connell had our relay not been disqualified.  Very cool!

One other note: it was really wonderful having Bishop O’Connell swim in this meet for the first time.  In year’s past, they’ve swum in the DC Metro version of our State Championship Meet, a meet called “Metros”, but they made a great showing with the VISAA and I think they had a lot of fun.  It’s great to have them in the fold.  They are good folks, starting with their great coach Evan Stiles.

Media Coverage Was Great for Seton Swimming

Seton Swimming has received a great deal of media coverage for our State Championships, including live coverage by Swimming World Magazine who streamed the meet live on SwimmingWorld.TV.  The coverage included live color commentary, daily meet recaps, and interviews with many of the top swimmers.

You can see the complete archives of the coverage, including video on every heat of both prelims and finals, by clicking on:

SwimmingWorld.tv – Full Video Coverage with Color Commentary and Interviews

In addition to the race coverage, there is an interview of State Champion Alex Doonis that you are going to want to check out.  At the time of this writing, it was not yet posted, but I expect it to be up shortly.  And you may also want to check out the interviews of Coach Koehr after this last year’s meet and the interview of Coach Koehr after the 2010 meet.  They are as good a description as I have available of the philosophy we use running the Seton Swimming program.

And here are some links to coverage in our local papers.  All of the coverage has been very positive about Seton School, our team, and the progress our team has made over the last ten years.  As of this writing, the newspapers have not yet posted their articles, but I’ll put them up as soon as I see them.  Here’s the link to the 2011 meet:

Manassas Journal Messenger – VSIS State Champs Coverage

And for those new to the Seton Swimming program, here’s a profile of Coach Koehr from last season:

Manassas Journal Messenger – Profile of Coach Jim Koehr

In the above profile, the editor references Coach Koehr’s 10 Rules for Success so I’ve included a link and posted them under Team Information.

We had a professional photographer at the State Meet who took thousands of pictures.  You can get to PIX n PALETTE Creations by clicking here.  As of this writing the photos were not yet posted, but once they have been, they will be available for sale at very low prices.  You can also e-mail [email protected] for free digital copies of any of the pictures.

Alex Doonis – State Champion and 6-time Seton Record Holder

All-State Swimmer, and Senior Captain, Alex Doonis had what could only be described as the meet of her life.  She was the State Champion in the 50 Free, took the bronze medal in 100 Free, set three (3) new team records and was recognized for the 4th year in a row as All-State.  Not a bad weekend’s work.

The highlight of the meet for Alex had to the 50 Free.  She laid down her marker in the prelims when she rocked a 24.39 to take the top seed in the finals.  That time was also a new Seton record.  With scoreboard not working, I did not know her time right away, but I could tell that it was very fast.  Her start was very quick and her underwater off the turn was the best I’ve seen from her.

Then in the finals, she duplicated her prelim time exactly with a very similar race.  Cat Rogers definitely had the jump on her off the start, but coming off the turn, Alex took control of the race and ultimately the gold medal.

You can see Alex’s preliminary heat in the 50 Free on SwimmingWorld.tv here and her championship final heat here.

Then on Saturday, Alex had the 100 Free.  In the prelims, she took the top seed for finals with a tremendous swim.  She went out fast, took total control of her heat early and won it by more than a body length with a new team record time 53.22 – a time that was nearly a half second faster than her previous best time.

In the finals, the race was on: Alex was the top seed, but there were two other girls who were seeded within .16 seconds of her.  They marched through the fog and laser tunnel to Alex’s selection of a Brittany Spears song and approached the blocks – but then a delay.  The timing system, which had caused us great pain all weekend, stopped working.  As the meet host, I was very nervous about running a race that I knew would be close without the touchpads, but finally the delay become too long.  I knew that Alex was ready to roll, so I yelled down to the referee to run the race on stop watches – I knew these girls were much more nervous than I was and they needed to get going.

And man did they get going.  Alex was out super-fast!  Without the timing system, it is impossible to know her first split, but I’m sure it was 25 low – she had a clear lead at the 50 and at the 75 also.  In the last 25, the race really tightened up and Alex ultimately took 3rd by just .36 seconds.  But her final time was tremendous!  She finished in an amazing 52.91!  That time beat our old Seton record, set by Lauren “The Machine” Donohoe, by more than a second!

You can see Alex’s preliminary heat in the 100 Free on SwimmingWorld.tv here and her championship final heat here.

While Alex was a 2-time All-State swimmer in her individual events, she was also outstanding in the relays.  In the girls 200 Medley relay, she went 28.37 in the lead-off backstroke leg to break Jessica Dunn’s record of 28.50 from 2009.  She also had an outstanding lead-off split in the girls 200 Free Relay that ultimately placed 4th (more on that relay later).

What a weekend for Alex!  And there was one final prize for Alex as a result of her times this weekend:  she qualified for the Junior Nationals in Orlando, FL in March!

Congratulations, Alex.  You have officially joined the list of Seton Individual State Champions that includes these greatest swimmers in Seton history:  Katie Shipko, Kevin Koehr, Nevin Cook and Jameson Hill.

All-State Swimmer Cat Rogers Secures her spot in Seton History

Senior Captain Cat Rogers also cemented herself among the ranks of Seton’s all-time greatest swimmers.  This weekend, Cat won a silver medal in 50 Free and a bronze medal in 100 Breaststroke.  She also broke her own team record in 100 Breaststroke.  It was a great weekend of swimming for Cat.

Cat’s silver medal in the 50 Free was hard earned.  During prelims, Cat swam 25.16 to take the 3rd seed going into finals.  That was not the time Cat had hoped for, but like the incredible competitor that she is, she realized that she had swum fast enough to be in the middle lanes for finals, and that was the race that counted.

For finals, Cat’s competitive spirit and heart came out strong.  She was off the blocks like a rocket – even the Jeff Cummings of SwimmingWorld.tv noticed when he said, “Lane 3 with the big start!  That’s Cat Rogers from Seton!”  Cat was strong until the end, finishing in 24.78 and holding off the top sprinters for Division I schools Collegiate and Norfolk Academy to take the silver medal and secure the one-two finish for Seton.

You can see Cat’s preliminary heat in the 50 Free on SwimmingWorld.tv here and her championship final heat here.

The story of Cat’s 100 Breaststroke was similar to her 50 Free.  In the prelims, Cat swam 1:09.39 to secure the 2nd seed in the finals later that night.  Cat was not pleased with that time, but once again, she showed the heart of a great swimmer and came back strong.

Cat’s 100 Breaststroke in the final was a phenomenon to behold.  She was fast off the block as usual and had a very fast first 50, splitting 31.58.  That was 1.1 seconds faster than her split in the prelims, so at that point, I knew it was going to be a fast time.  She came back in 36.12, again much faster than her prelim swim.  The result:  a 1:07.70 which was good enough for bronze and also established a new team record!

You can see Cat’s preliminary heat in the 100 Breaststroke on SwimmingWorld.tv here and her championship final heat here.

The race that got Cat so pumped up for the 100 Breaststroke final was her great anchor leg on our girls 200 Free Relay when she split an incredible 24.04!  It was great to see her bounce back from her morning disappointment in the breaststroke with such a strong swim.

The day before, Cat also had a lifetime best 50 Breaststroke relay split in the final when she went 30.57.  That means that she left the meet with three (3) personal records, in addition to her new team record.  Cat graduates from Seton Swimming with all or part of 4 Seton records.

One measure of the character of a person is how they handle adversity.  This past weekend, Cat showed the character of a champion – I’m very proud to have been her coach.

Vincent “Catfish” Dunn has the Fastest Meet of his Life

Senior Vincent Dunn is the 3rd superstar swimmer graduating from Seton Swimming this year, and he went out with lifetime best times in both 100 Fly and 100 Backstroke.  The only swimmers in Seton history to have beaten Catfish in these events were both All-Americas, so his performance this weekend ranks him among Seton’s best ever also.

His best races of the weekend came in 100 Fly.  In the prelims, he was a little slow of the blocks, but one he broke out, he just rocked.  I seriously have never seen him swim so well, particularly his final turn where the even the SwimmingWorld.tv commentator felt compelled to say something about it.  He ended up just off his PR to take the 3rd seed for the Friday evening finals.

In the championship final, Catfish really swam well in a super tight heat.  He ultimately took 4th place with a lifetime best of 52.80, only .20 seconds behind second place.  The time will definitely get him a spot on some college team should he choose to swim at the next level.

You can see Catfish’s preliminary heat in the 100 Fly on SwimmingWorld.tv here and his championship final heat here.  I think the SwimmingWorld.tv commentators really liked his nickname!

Catfish was also excellent in the 100 Back where the competition was a fast as I’ve seen it in several years.  In the prelims, he popped a lifetime best 54.00 to secure the top seed in the consolation final.  He was just .06 seconds off the 8th seed for the championship final.  He ultimately took 10th in the championship final with a very fast 54.49

You can see Catfish’s preliminary heat in the 100 Back on SwimmingWorld.tv here and his championship final heat here.

Seton Continues Tradition of Great Girls 200 Free Relays

For years now, Seton has had great 200 Free relays for the girls, culminating in our 2010 Gold medal at States.  This year’s version of the sprint relay with Alex Doonis, Claire Kenna (8th  grade), Alex Sinner (freshman) and Cat Rogers, carried on the tradition in splendid fashion.

After prelims, they secured a 5th seed with the finals with a personal record 1:42.72, nearly a second faster than their time at National Catholics.  The splits for our younger girls were particularly good with Claire splitting 25.89 and Alex Sinner splitting a 27.29.   Claire’s split was an amazing time for an 8th grader, but I’m starting to get used to “amazing” from her.

Then, in the finals, these girls really rocked, moving up to 4th place with a 1:42.32, scoring 30 of our team’s 112 total points.  The splits were again great with the seniors really stepping up this time.  Alex took it out in 24.79 and Cat anchored with that amazing 24.04 I mentioned earlier.

So Many Other Great Relay Swims at States

States this year was more than just a show for our senior stars; it was a great opportunity for our younger swimmers to get the experience of state championship meet so that, in the future, they will be ready to compete for State Championships of their own.  Here were some of the other great relay swims that I’d like to highlight:

  • Our Girls 200 Medley Relay of Alex Doonis, Cat Rogers, Alex Sinner and Claire Kenna, really swam well. In the prelims, they qualified 6th, ahead of all the Arlington Diocese Catholic schools, including Bishop O’Connell.  Here is their prelim heat on SwimmingWorld.tv.  Then in the finals, they really came to swim.  Alex Doonis split a team record 28.37 in the back, Cat Rogers split a lifetime best 30.57 in the breast, Alex Sinner went 29.73 and Claire Kenna came home with a lifetime best 25.85 (wow!).  After the race, my friend the referee handed me a yellow slip saying that we were DQ’d on the back to breast exchange.  I let you watch it right here (or here – at the time of this writing, there was a problem with the link) and you can make the call for yourself.  Alex was deep underwater so the official probably couldn’t even see when she actually touched, but if you look for that yellow cap underwater, it looks pretty clear to me that she had touched before Cat leaped.
  • Our Boys 200 Medley Relay of Vincent “Catfish” Dunn, Michael Hill, Hugh Brien and Joseph Kosten swam very well, particularly in the prelims where they qualified 14th for the consolation finals. Everyone’s splits were excellent with Catfish splitting 26.16 in back, Michael Hill splitting 30.97, Hugh Brien splitting a very fast 26.49 and Joe Kosten bringing it home in 24.53.  Here’s a link to the SwimmingWorld.tv coverage of their prelim heat.  Then in the finals, we were DQ’d on the breast to fly exchange.  Here’s a link to the race, but it hard to see that particular exchange in the video.  Judge for yourself if you can.
  • We’ve been talking about the future of our younger girls all season long. This weekend, they got a chance to experience a State Championship relay and they made the most of it.  Our Girls 400 Free Relay of Alex Sinner (freshman), Jillian Ceol (8th), Kimberly Rector (8th) and Claire Kenna (8th) took full advantage of it, placing 15th!  Alex led off with a 59.47, Jillian split 1:05.50, Kimberly split a 1:04.21 and Claire brought it home with a lifetime best 59.39!  Here’s a link to their prelim heat and here’s a link to their swim in the finals.
  • Our Boys 200 Free Relay of Catfish Dunn, Patrick Koehr, Luke Marrazzo and Joseph Kosten swam very fast in prelims taking 19th place overall with a 1.58 second PR. I wanted to highlight this relay because I was so impressed with the splits that I saw.  We have come to expect Catfish to pop his normal 23 low, but how about the other three?  Patrick Koehr split 18, Luke Marrazzo split 24.90 and Joe Kosten split 23.94.  I’m pretty sure those are all lifetime best splits for those three – who will all be back next year!  Here is SwimmingWorld.tv’s coverage of their preliminary heat.
  • I’ll also highlight our Boys 400 Free Relay for the same reason – the splits were amazing – all four splits were lifetime bests! They finished 21st tied with St. Michael the Archangel’s relay, a relay that they had not beaten all year long.  Luke Marrazzo took it out in a PR 56.06!  I know he was pumped about that.  Then Patrick Koehr split 58.68, Steven Shaw split 57.17 and Joseph Kosten brought it home in 54.73.  This entire relay will be back next year, hopefully for the finals at States!  Here is SwimmingWorld.tv’s coverage of their preliminary heat.

And So Many Other Great Individual Swims at States

And here were some of the other great individual swims that I’d like to highlight:

  • Claire Kenna was just super in the 50 Free where she swam a PR 26.68 to take 17th place overall. Her .49 second PR left her just .06 seconds from qualifying for the consolation final, an amazing accomplishment for an 8th  Claire has proven that she can swim with the big dogs!  Here’s a link to her preliminary heat.
  • How about Emily Heim? Another PR in 100 Breaststroke, a swim good enough for 19th place, just .58 seconds off of a spot in the consolation finals.  Emily is going to be a player at States in the future.  Here’s link to Emily’s great prelim heat.
  • Alexandra Sinner had a shot at one individual event to go with her three relay entries and swam very well in the 200 IM going 2:27.60 which was good enough for 21st place. Here’s a link to Alexandra’s preliminary heat.
  • Kimberly Rector gained some valuable experience with great swims in the 200 IM and the 500 Free where she placed 26th and 31st Here’s a link to her 200 IM preliminary heat and here’s a link to watch her 500 Free preliminary heat.
  • Michael Hill swam a season best time in the prelims of 100 Breaststroke with a 1:09.46, good enough for 37th Here’s a link to Michael’s preliminary heat on SwimmingWorld.tv.


Coach Maureen Duran has done a tremendous job building a diving program for Seton that complements our swimming program.  Seton diving is now recognized in Virginia as one of the better independent school diving programs, and it showed in the results from this past weekend’s State Championship.

Here are some notes on Diving from Coach Maureen Duran:

Seton’s Divers Dazzle at States!

Seton dive team had their ups and downs at States this weekend.  The boys had the toughest competition I’ve seen in 4 years.  The boys had some amazing dives and at times completely failed and I mean literally.  

Joseph Duran place 6th in States, winning a medal. He failed one of his dives which should have removed him from the competition.  However, his scores were so high in his other dives he placed 6th (score 297) missing 5th place by only 4 points. Last year Joseph scored 321.  Outstanding day for Duran who showed what it really means to be a “come back kid.”

Joseph Kosten never dove in his life.  He started 2 months ago, made the first round of cuts which is a big accomplishment and placed 19th out of 23 divers.  So proud of him.  Michael Manley placed 20th right below Kosten.  He can dive but had an off day.  I’m so glad he’s coming back.  I want to show the boys what Manley is really capable of doing. 

The same off day for Manley happened to Mary Duran at States.  She too failed a dive like her brother Joseph, but unlike Joe wasn’t able to move on in the competition.   She was having the best diving day too.  Maybe we’ll see Mary next year on the Franciscan diving team.  

Keziah Higginbottom  (score of 145) and Sarah Zapiain both made first cuts and Sarah went on to make 2nd cuts and place 9th in States with a score of 229.  Her score was well above last year’s score 206.  The girl’s state team dove their hearts out.  I was so pleased with their diving this weekend!  Congratulations Seton Diving Team!!!!

The Spirit of Seton Volunteerism Does it Again!

At Seton, I think we take this for granted that these types of events can be run by all volunteers, but believe me when I tell you that most people outside of our community don’t.  In fact, many of them can’t understand how it is possible.

This was our 5th year hosting the State Championship meet.  Only at Seton, would it be possible for a school our size to host a meet like this, and we should be justifiably proud of the example we set for other schools, some of whom could not even muster three timers for finals.  It was especially impressive considering that the meet was four hours from our school.

It would be impossible to mention all of the generous contributions of time and money that lead to the success of this meet, but some parents went above and beyond in the execution of this meet:

  • John Wunderly was fabulous as the co-Meet Director. His role was to ensure that the dry deck officials were completely ready to roll and then to be around and deal with crises when they arose.  I don’t think any of us anticipated how much his services would be needed!
  • I cannot even count the number of compliments I received about the Meet Announcers, John Kleb, Ed Rogers and Art Bennett!
  • Did you know that L. Higginbottom volunteered to be a stroke & turn judge at the meet even though his daughter was only diving? He worked all four sessions.
  • At the last minute, the guy in charge of the officials realized that we didn’t have a head timer. Well thank you Pat Dunn for stepping into the breach and filling the role for all four (4) swimming sessions.
  • Laura Heim, and her entire family, did a wonderful job managing our team’s effort to run concessions. It is a difficult and thankless job, but she selflessly took it on and, as a result, our team made some pretty good money on the effort.  Thanks Mrs. Heim!
  • Cathy Lowell generated countless compliments to me from the other coaches with the fine work she did managing the hospitality area for the coaches and officials. We all ate very well during that meet!
  • Thanks to Mary Beth Rogers and Mrs. Carol Doonis for organizing the team meals between and after each session. It sure was nice not having to worry about team logistics while I was trying to worry about meet logistics.

Seton Swimming has become something truly special, a community of swimmers, parents and families that is so much more than just a championship swimming team.  This was my 10th year coaching the team, and it was definitely a challenging season for me with the other things going on in my life.  But seeing you all learn the benefits of hard work and perseverance and watching everyone have so much fun getting better, makes it all worth it.  I’m only able to do this because of the great support that I receive from all of the families of Seton, and I really appreciate the opportunity!

See you next season!

Coach Jim Koehr

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