On Saturday evening, we had another great meet against defending Division I State Champion Paul VI.  There is no doubt that PVI is the real deal, and they should fair very well in the hunt for the VSIS Division I State Championship this year also.  In spite of the strength of this opponent, I’m very pleased with the showing we had.

I had several comments about the competitiveness and sportsmanship shown by our team from both PVI coaches and parents.  Believe it or not, they were even a little envious of the way we run our meets.  Our parent volunteers, lead by Chris Cook and Charles Seltman, really run a very nice meet.

Prior to the meet, both teams took a moment to pray for Katie Planchak, who was admitted to DeWitt Army Hospital at Fort Belvoir on Friday night.  Her condition, while not life threatening, is fairly serious.  As I said at the meet, the lessons that Katie has learned while pushing through those last 10 yards of 100 Freestyle will no doubt help her push through this also.  I know you will all pray for a complete recovery.  We look forward to seeing Katie back at school soon.

The final score was predictable, but very respectable given the differences in the sizes of our schools and the very high caliber of the PVI Swimming program:


SST      99.50

PVI      186.50


SST      85

PVI      201

We had a number of top three finishes in the meet:

First Place Finishes

As usual Jessica Dunn and Nevin Cook were our standouts, with two first place finishes each:

–          Jessica soundly defeated her PVI opponents in 200 Free and 100 Back.  This should be a harbinger of good things for Jessie at the State Championships.  Her best times of 1:57.55 in 200 Free and 1:00.52 in 100 Back would have finished 2nd and 4th, respectively, in last year’s State Championship meet.  Jessie already holds the Seton backstroke record and is getting very close to Katie Shipko’s 200 Free record.  Watching her swim, I think we can expect to see her take that record down before she graduates.

–          Nevin Cook’s first place finishes were in two of his “off” events, 100 Fly and 100 Back.  Nevin’s 100 Fly, in 54.02, was just off the team record of 53.56 set by Lawrence Lauderdale way back in 1998.  His 100 Back was also a very fast 55.11.  As if that weren’t enough, while leading off the 400 Free relay, Nevin split a super-quick 49.10 in 100 Free, beating the defending state champion in 200 Free who led-off the relay for PVI.  That too was just off the Seton record of 48.69 set by Kevin Koehr last season.  As Kevin himself has told me, it is just a matter of time before Nevin holds every single Seton record except maybe backstroke.

Second Place finishes

–          Connor Cook in 200 IM, in spite of a hurting shoulder.

–          Laura Talbott in 200 IM.  She was even with the leader at the 100 split.

–          Sean Koehr in 100 Breaststroke

–          Mary-Kate Kenna in 100 Breaststroke

Third Place finishes

–          Bridgett Wunderly in 200 IM, completing a good showing for Seton in that event.

–          Sean Koehr in 50 Free in a very fast heat.  There were 5 swimmers under :25

–          Alex Doonis in 50 Free.  It was a great experience for this 7th grader to experience what it’s like swimming against some of the top high school sprint freestylers in the state.  She’s going to surprise people over the next few years

–          Connor Cook in 500 Free.  His shoulder was really bothering him after the 200 IM, and he still had a great showing in this race.

–          Mary-Kate Kenna in 100 Fly.  This isn’t even a regular event for Mary-Kate – maybe it should be?

New Championship Qualifiers

I was very pleased to see Kimberley Melnyk add 100 Freestyle to her list of qualifying times for the National Catholic Championship at Villanova.  Kimberley dropped over a second from her time, lowering it to 1:01.08 to get under the cut.  The most striking thing about Kimberley’s stroke is how long she holds on to the water during her stroke.  She really stretches it out front and pulls all the way through with a powerful finish.  Vice nice.

A few other swimmers made progress toward qualifying times.  Daniel Koehr cut nearly a second from his 100 backstroke to get within .52 seconds of the State cut, and Danielle Smith had a great relay lead-off leg and got within .1 seconds of the National Catholic cut in 50 Free.

Now’s a good time to remind everyone of the rules I am under for the National Catholic championship.  I only get 4 entries per event.  We currently have 9 girls with the cut for 50 Free.  Not all of them will be swimming that event (e.g.  Jessica Dunn, Mary-Kate Kenna), but of the ones that want to, I have to go the fastest time.  For relays at National Catholics, there are qualifying times also.

The last opportunity to qualify for National Catholics is this coming weekend.  If you want to go for something, please let me know via e-mail very soon.  I think I’m on top of most of it, but I’d appreciate your help in keeping track of who is close.

Personal Records

In spite of our time off over Christmas and our disrupted practice schedule the week before Christmas, we had a number of PRs, including:

–          David Harris had three PRs!  He cut 1.46 seconds from his 50 back while leading off a medley relay, .41 seconds from his 50 Free leading off another relay, and .12 seconds from his 100 Breaststroke.

–          Lucy Bennett had two big PRs!  She lowered her 200 Free time by over 5 seconds, and she cut another quarter second from her 100 Fly.  She’s only in 7th grade and we’re still working on that stroke, so look for more improvement in Fly in the future.

–          Rachel Lambrecht had PRs in 50 Free (by 1.37 seconds) and 100 Breast (by 1.03 seconds).  Her breaststroke has improved four and half seconds this season.

–          Greg Bliss had two PRs also.  He cut .33 seconds from his 200 IM, and he cut almost 1 second from his 100 Free while leading off the 400 Free relay.

–          Kevin Bliss must have had a good breakfast.  Believe it or not, he lowered his 100 Free time by over 6 seconds!  He also cut .6 seconds from his 50 Free.

–          Carolyn Claybrooks just continues to get faster.  She lowered her 500 Free by 1.78 seconds and her 200 Free by .17 seconds.

–          Casey Flanagan had another nice meet cutting over 6 seconds from her 500 Free and .2 seconds from her 50 Free.

–          Emily Adamec lowered her 100 Breaststroke time by over 2 seconds.

–          Sean Bartnick continues to show improvement.  He cut another half second from his 100 Free.  He also swam 200 Free for the first time and scored.  His freestyle is starting to get pretty good.

–          David Basinger cut 1.56 seconds from his 200 Free and took 4th in the process.  As an 8th grader, he appears to be successfully overcoming the limitations that inherently come from being raised in an LSU household.

–          Carly Byers lowered her 50 Free time by over 1 second

–          Not to be outdone, twin sister Monica Byers lowered her 100 Free time by 2.61 seconds.

–          Nevin Cook’s 100 Free was 1.38 seconds faster than the best time he’s ever done at Seton.  You don’t always see the PRs set by some of our top USA swimmers in my post meet e-mails because I record USA times in my records also.  Many times, their improvements occur at USA meets.

–          Billy Corkery had another nice improvement in 100 Free, dropping another half second from his 100 Free

–          Ann Duran is approaching the :30 second barrier in 50 Free.  This time she moved another 1.03 seconds closer to that milestone.

–          Keziah Higginbottom lowered her 100 Free time by 4.10 seconds

–          Jonathan Jacobeen had a nice 100 Free, lowering his previous best time by 2.57 seconds.

–          Mary-Kate Kenna swam well in 100 Fly as we mentioned before.  She cut her time by .26 seconds

–          Patrick Kenna’s backstroke is coming along nicely.  He cut over 4 seconds from his 50 back while leading off a medley relay

–          Daniel Koehr is starting feel better about his underwater body dolphin backstroke.  The result?  A .87 second improvement in 100 backstroke, leaving him very close to the State cut.  The improvement came almost completely on the start and first body dolphin.  His 50 split for the race was right at his best 50 backstroke time.

–          Hannah Lowell is going to be faster than her father if she keeps improving like this.  She cut another half second from her 50 Free this week

–          Kimberley Melnyk dropped 1.03 seconds from her 100 Free

–          Andrew Minarik swam himself sick when he cut nearly 11 seconds from his 100 Free.  That’s what I call “giving it your all”!

–          Maggie Murphy lowered her 100 Breaststroke time by 3.80 seconds.

–          Sam Quinan lowered his 100 Breaststroke time every time he touches the water.  This season, he has dropped 7 seconds from his time, including another 1.28 seconds last night.

–          John Ross cut .79 seconds from his 50 Free and 1.61 seconds from his 100 Free.

–          Krista Shaw had a nice swim in the 200 Free, cutting 9.13 seconds from her previous best

–          Danielle Smith is now .10 seconds from the National Catholic cut in 50 Free after lowering her time in a relay lead-off by .45 seconds.

–          Nicki Smith did a nice job in 100 free, lowering her time by almost 3 seconds

–          Laura Talbott lowered her 100 Breaststroke time by another .12 seconds.  Her time is getting pretty fast.

–          Christian Vestermark seems to make this list every single week.  This time he cut 2.34 seconds from his 200 Free.  He stroke is really “long and strong” as Coach Mulhern likes to say.

–          Bridget Wunderly had a very nice 200 IM, lowering her time by another .41 seconds

–          Leslie Zapiain must have recovered from her late night watching LSU in the Sugar Bowl.  She cut nearly a second from her 100 Free.

One striking thing I noticed as I was making this list of PRs is the number of young swimmers we have on the team.  I can’t mention everybody, but did you know that Alex Doonis, Catfish Dunn, Casey Flanagan, Sarah Zapiain, and Lucy Bennett, are only in 7th grade?  Did you know that David Basinger, Patrick Kenna, Rachel Lambrecht, Sarah Locke, Krista Shaw, Bridgett Wunderly, and Leslie Zapiain are only in 8th grade?  Even more amazing, Joe Duran and Keziah Higginbottom are swimming well and they are only in 6th grade.  The future sure looks bright for Seton Swimming.

Other Great Performances

Every week, there are some swims that, while they are not necessarily PRs, are really great efforts.  This week was no different:

–          In the medley relay, it was a lot of fun to watch Nevin Cook jump in for the 2nd leg and eat up the PVI swimmers.  He split an unbelievable 26.88 – in 50 Breaststroke!

–          Our girls medley made a nice run at PVI.  Jessica Dunn, in particular, had a great lead-off leg, crushing the PVI backstrokers.

–          All of the coaches really enjoyed watching Patrick Kenna and Sean Bartnick swim 200 Free.  They were right with David Basinger, who is very fast, for the 1st 100.

–          Keith Hetrick has not swum competitively before, and he was understandably nervous about swimming the 200 IM and the 500 Free.  He did a great job in both.

–          Sean Koehr’s start in 50 Free was really fast, even compared to the PVI sprinters

–          Little Patrick Koehr, age 11, swam exhibition for Seton last night.  He placed 3rd and in the second heat of 50 Free and he actually won the 3rd heat of 100 Free.  I guess I’ll be coaching for a while longer?

–          When Katie went into the hospital, I plugged Alex Doonis into her events.  50 and 100 Free are often the most competitive events of the meet, and filling the role of primary sprinter for a high school team is no small task – especially if you consider how well Katie Planchak has done it for us.  Alex did a great job.   I’m only sorry that I messed her up when she was on the blocks for 100 Free by trying to shout last second instructions.  It was a great experience for her nonetheless, because, starting next year when Katie graduates, Alex will have to be the new Katie.  I know she can be great.

–          Brendan Koehr joined Keith in the 1st-time club for 500 Free and did very well also.  His finish was really great, capping a hard sprint right for the last 25 yards.  Brendan also swam 100 Breaststroke for the first time.

–          Sarah Zapiain, seemed to be unphased in her first attempt at the 500 for Seton.  She swam a 7:20, which is a really good time for a 7th grader.  She also placed 7th in the event!

–          Sean Bartnick had a great start on the 200 Free relay

–          Keziah Higginbottom swam very hard on the anchor leg of a 400 Free relay.  It’s great to see a swimmer give their 100% personal best effort, even when winning isn’t a consideration.  I loved it.

–          I was showing Alex Doonis some things about stroke technique while the 400 Free relay was going on, and she told me to watch how well Meghan Morch rolled.  Good job Meghan for rolling and good job Alex for noticing.  Only the Red Cross swims on their stomachs.

Opportunities to Improve

While there were many things that pleased me greatly during our meet last night, there were a few things that greatly displeased me.  We need to improve on the two things:

  1. Missed events – I lost count of the number of swimmers who missed events, but I think it was something like 7.  At least 3 of those were pure irresponsibility.  We had at least one other swimmer who was running up to the blocks at the last second for BOTH of his individual events.  The meet referee told me that, if we were doing fly-over starts, he would have missed them.

A related problem occurs when swimmers get sick.  Being sick is a legitimate reason for missing an event, but only if you talk to me first.  Talking to another coach is not the same as talking to me.  You need to talk to me because a) I found that, very often, swimmers who don’t want to swim are very happy when they do anyway and b) if you truly cannot swim, I’m probably going to have to scramble to make relay adjustments.

  1. Cheering for Teammates in the Team area – Just before the 400 Free relay, when we had most of our swimmers behind the blocks getting ready to swim, I noticed that there were only 3 people in our team area.  There should have been something closer to 15.  I suspect that many of you went to the showers after your last event, or worse, left the meet completely.  I know that swimming is a classic individual sport, but we are a team.  Team’s support one another – all the way to the end.  How would you feel if everyone left you when you still had to swim?  Throughout the meet, we should stay in the team area, and cheer for our teammates from the side of the pool.

Enough of the negative stuff.  Overall, I was very pleased with the meet.

Finally, I’d like to note that it was Coach Mulhern’s 50th birthday yesterday.  Happy Birthday coach!  Aren’t we lucky to have a coach of his caliber get up every morning to coach us and then show up at our meet on his 50th birthday?  He doesn’t even have a kid on the team!  Thank you so much Coach Mulhern for the time and talent you give us.

Our next meet is against FCS and Word of Life next Saturday.  Plan on being there by 4:00 for 4:15 stretching and a 4:30 warm-up.  I’m starting to work on the meet sheet right after this, so there’s still another few hours to make any requests for what you’d like to swim.  Also, don’t forget that I that I need you to RSVP for our JV meet.  I will only put you in the meet if I hear from you.

Have a great evening, and I’ll see you tomorrow at practice,

Coach Koehr

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