Last Friday, we had a great showing in Richmond against the Collegiate School and Paul VI Catholic High School.  At last year’s state championship meet, these two schools were 1st and 2nd overall for the men and 2nd and 3rd overall for the women, and I don’t think anyone can stop the Collegiate boys in their quest for a 2nd straight state championship this year.  It is not a stretch to say we were swimming against two of the best teams in the state.  .

In spite of the strength of our opponents, and the small size of our school, our scores were very respectable, especially our girls versus PVI.  Here are the final scores without diving:


SST      77.50          PVI            85.50

SST      71              COOL       96


SST      59.50          PVI            107.50

SST      50              COOL       120

Every year, we seem to get a little closer to PVI – this year was easily the closest we’ve ever come – only 8 points not counting diving (Seton doesn’t compete in diving).  That really just a 4-point swing in the score because had we managed to win 4 more points, they would have lost them.  One thing that hurt us was the scoring format.  They only scored the top 5 swimmers instead of the top 7.  With our depth, scoring the top 7 could have helped.

Great Swims

There always seems to be some incredibly memorable swims in our meets, and this meet was no different:

  • Nevin Cook smashed two of his own team records and beat two of the state’s best swimmers in their best events. Middle distance freestyle is the strength of the Collegiate (COOL) team.  Last season, COOL had 3 of the top 9 finishers in 200 Free and 4 of the top 11 finishers in the 500 Free.  These are not Nevin’s normal events, but I figured it might be fun for him – and for the rest of us!  Nevin got 1st place in the 200 Free with a new team record time of 1:46.66, beating his previous Seton PR by 2.5 seconds.  That time would have gotten 4th at last year’s state meet.  He had his usual super-quick start and went out very fast with a :24.89 for the first 50.  As impressive as that was, the race I enjoyed the most was the 500 Free.

In the 500, Nevin faced off against the two swimmers who placed 2nd and 3rd at last year’s state championship.  I knew he was serious when he showed up at the blocks with a fastskin (Speedo swim suit with special material that goes to your ankles).   Nevin stayed just behind COOL top man for 9 lengths.  I could see that Nevin’s turns were much better, and Nevin must have seen the same thing because he used the 9th turn to try to make a break.  He got as much as a body length ahead, but the COOL swimmer was too strong, and Nevin just couldn’t shake him.  After the race Nevin told me that, at that point, he just settled back into the race and resolved to put him away on the last 50 – and that was exactly what happened.  As the referee rang the bell for last lap, I turned to Coach Lowell and said “here comes the big kick”.  And man was I right!  When he surfaced from his turn, he looked like a speedboat.  With whitewater trailing him for 5 yards, he blew the COOL swimmer off the wall.  Just as I was thinking the race was over, the COOL swimmer proved why he was the state runner-up and came charging back.  It was a near photo finish, but Nevin prevailed by .07 seconds, setting a new team record for the 500 Free at an amazing 4:46.52.  That time was almost 4 seconds faster than his own previous team record.  In an “off” event for Nevin, he swam a time that would have placed 2nd in last year’s state championship meet.

Next week, Nevin is going to take a crack at two Woodberry Forest pool records.  Next week, I hope to be telling you much more about why Woodberry Forest pool records are so coveted – Seton has one already.  Don’t miss Nevin going for the 200 IM and 100 Breast records next Saturday afternoon.

  • Every week, I seem to write about another great swim by Freshman Lauren “the Machine” Donohoe, and she didn’t disappoint us this week when she faced off against one of PVI’s top girls in the 500 Free. After a very first 100, the Machine ran 3rd behind the top girls from both PVI and COOL for much of the race.  It looked like that was how it was going to end until, around the 15th (of 20) length, she blew past the COOL swimmer and started to chase the PVI girl.  At 18, she passed the PVI girl, and the race was on.  The last 50 was an all out sprint by both girls.  They approached the wall side-by-side, touched in a wave of white water, and looked up at the board.  The older, bigger girl from PVI just out-touched the Machine by an imperceptible .02 seconds!  In spite of the loss, there was plenty to celebrate with a PR of 5:42.85.  That time is only 2.85 seconds off the National Catholic cut.  Not bad for a freshman.  Great job Lauren!
  • I don’t know what Sean Bartnick was taking, but he somehow managed to cut 1.2 seconds from his 50 Free and broke :26 seconds for the first time. Sean went a very fast 25.85 in only his second season ever swimming.  Tremendous!  Who knows where he’d be had he started swimming as a 7th
  • Alex Doonis had her best swim of the year when she beat all of the Collegiate and PVI backstrokers to take first overall with a very fast PR of 1:05.69 in 100 Back. She won the race on the last turn with that good underwater she’s developing.  To put her time in perspective, that swim would have placed 12th at States last year.  A 1:04.72 made the top 8 – I think Alex can do that and score a lot of points for us toward a potential state championship.  Only an 8th grader, Alex has an excellent future with Seton and will no doubt challenge Jessica’s team records as she grows older.  She’ll get tested again this Saturday at Woodberry against a Madiera senior that went 1:06.15 at States last year.

Top Finishers

Given the level of competition that we faced, I would like to tell you about a few swimmers not already mentioned who rose to the top on Friday:

  • Our Boys Medley relay of Connor Cook, Nevin Cook, Daniel Koehr, and Sean Koehr did their best time of the year, hit the National Catholic Medley relay cut and beat Collegiate’s “A” relay. Connor split :27.30 for 50 Back, Nevin split 26.76 for 50 Breast (you read that right), Daniel split 28.38 for 50 Fly and Sean anchored with a 23.69 50 Free.  There is still an opportunity for someone to take the fly position in this relay.  Right now, Daniel Koehr has the fastest 50 Fly split at :28.38, which is pretty good for a sophomore swimming his worst stroke.  I’ll give a few different guys a chance to beat it this weekend at Woodberry.  After that, we should have this relay set for the championship season.
  • Jessica Dunn was sick, so I worked it out with the host school to switch her to the 50 Free and 3 relays. PVI’s top sprinter somehow didn’t get the word that Jessie was under the weather, because Jessie still took her down by almost half a second.
  • Lea Mazzoccoli got the job done in Fly. Before the meet, I told her that she was facing off against the top PVI butterflier who was seeded a half second ahead of her.  Lea had one of her best swims of the season and beat the PVI girl handily.
  • Our Girls 200 Free relay of Jessica Dunn, Alex Doonis, Meghan Morch and Lauren Donohoe did their best time of the season, crushing PVI’s top relay with a 1:46.70. With a healthy Jessie, I think this relay can make a run at the team record of 1:44.78.  Our “B” relay of Lea Mazzoccoli, Carolyn Claybrooks, Danielle Smith and Laura Talbott also had a nice swim to take 3rd versus PVI.  With their help, we won that event 10-4.
  • Connor Cook got a chance to face off against two PVI seniors who scored at States last year and got to watch both of them finish in the 100 backstroke. He again bettered his 100 Back, this time to :56.73.  That time should definitely get Connor into the top 8 at States this year.  Connor was definitely the fastest swimmer on top of the water, but he just couldn’t keep up with a 6’ 3” Collegiate senior on the underwaters.  As Connor gets older and stronger, that will change.
  • Our Girls 400 Free relay beat both PVI’s and Collegiate’s top girls. Believe it or not, I’m quite sure that Lauren Donohoe, Kimberley Melnyk, Alex Doonis and Jessica Dunn can go much faster.

Personal Records

The layoff for Christmas really showed, but in spite of that fact, we were still able to come up with 39 new personal records.  Below are the PRs not already mentioned:

  • Kevin Bliss almost literally cut his previous best 50 backstroke time in half! He also improved again in the 50 Free.
  • Carolyn Claybrooks dropped again in the 500 Free. In the future, this is going to be a great event for her.
  • Michael Collins did a nice job in 50 Free, cutting nearly half a second from his previous PR.
  • Connor Cook not only dropped in the 100 Back, but he also cut time in 100 Free. More on that below.
  • Keeley Cook did some nice work in the 100 Back when she lowered her PR by 3.92 seconds
  • Matt Crowhurst just continues to get better. This time he had two PRs:  in 50 Free he cut .4 seconds and in 100 Free he cut 5.04 seconds.  He is very close to breaking :29 in 50 Free, an excellent time for a 1st year swimmer.
  • The Machine, right before her great swim in the 500, went :57.27 in 100 Free, lowering her PR by over half a second
  • Casey Flanagan cut .22 seconds from her previous best in 50 Back leading off a medley relay
  • Alex Harrill had a great swim in the 50 Free, improving by another 1.21 seconds
  • Jonathan Jacobeen had two PRs: one in 50 Free by 2.31 seconds and another in 50 Back by .36 seconds
  • Kelsey Kleb just seems to get better in 100 Fly every time I put her in it. She didn’t disappoint on Friday when she cut another 1.98 seconds from her previous best.
  • Brendan Koehr had a big PR in 200 Free when he cut 8.4 seconds. He also cut another 1.55 seconds from his 100 Free while leading off a 400 Free relay.
  • Thomas Kosten had a good night. He lowered his 50 Free PR by 1.98 seconds.
  • Rachel Lambrecht shot out of the blocks in 100 Free to lower her best time in 100 Free by 13.67 seconds!
  • Andrew Minarik cut 5.83 seconds from his previous best 50 Back time. Andrew has really improved from last season.
  • Emma Mooney was all smiles after lowering her 50 Free PR by an amazing 4.48 seconds and breaking :40 for the first time!
  • Meghan Morch last swam the 200 Free in December 2002. Five years later, she swam it 20 seconds faster.
  • It was great to see Monica Mosimann lower her 50 Free PR by .37 seconds
  • Michael O’Donnell lowered his 50 Free PR twice in one night. During the individual event, he cut .32 seconds.  Then, leading off a 200 Free relay, he lowered it another 2.10 seconds.
  • Michael O’Donohue had a PR every time he hit the water – 3 of them! He cut 16.56 seconds from his 200 IM, 11.41 seconds from his 100 Back, and 1.37 seconds from his 100 Free leading off a 400 Free relay.  Great work Michael.
  • Sam Quinan lowered his previous best 500 Free by almost 45 seconds. It was a great way for the senior to end his career swimming that event.
  • Cat Rogers gets faster every time she hits the water. This time, she cut another half second from her 50 Free and broke :30 for the first time.
  • Laura Talbott cut more time from her 200 IM, which is now very competitive.
  • Matthew Verry beat his previous best time in 50 Free by 1.23 seconds
  • Sarah Zapiain had a double PR evening with best times in the 200 IM (by 1.14 seconds) and the 100 Breast (by .17 seconds)

New Championship Qualifiers

  • Our Boys Medley Relay of Connor Cook, Nevin Cook, Daniel Koehr and Sean Koehr made the National Catholic cut for the 200 Medley Relay. We need to make sure we have a relay make the cut for the 200 Free relay this Saturday at Woodberry.  The same four swimmers are out top guys for that relay as well.
  • Connor Cook raced the big boys in 100 Free on Friday and proved he was up to the challenge. He improved his time to a 52.45 and got under the National Catholic cut.  Only a sophomore, Connor has qualified for States is all but one event and Catholic Nationals in all but 2 events.

By my latest count, we have 14 swimmers headed to Villanova later this month (more on that soon, don’t worry) and 17 swimmers going to States.

Other Noteworthy Swims

  • Laura Talbott had a great personal record swim in the 200 IM against two of PVI’s best female swimmers. They both had her at the 100, but Laura slightly surged ahead on the 3rd 50 with a strong breaststroke leg.  Turning for the final 50, it was a sprint to the finish.  PVI’s senior star just out-touched Laura, but Laura was able to out-touch the PVI sophomore by only .02 seconds.
  • Jessica Dunn crushed some of the State’s top female backstrokers leading off the 200 medley relay. She is poised to do very well at States in 100 Backstroke.
  • I was amazed to see how much Brendan Koehr’s backstroke start has improved.  He went nearly half the length of the pool underwater with a pretty fast body dolphin to show us how it should be done.
  • Jonathan Rosato’s breaststroke during the medley relay was a good as I’ve seen him swim – his timing was excellent, delaying his kick until he had gotten the most from his pull. Greg Bliss looked as good as ever in on the Fly leg of that same relay.
  • I love to watch Sarah Zapiain and Keeley Cook This time, the “Clash of the Titans” was in the 200 IM where they finished within 3 seconds of one another.  It will be fun watching them grow up together in Seton Swimming.
  • David Harris showed us how Breaststroke is supposed to look with a great body dolphin motion during the breaststroke leg of his 200 IM.
  • Daniel Koehr was puking at practice on Thursday, but came to swim at the meet anyway. He took his 200 IM out like a man on a mission, but just couldn’t hold it.  It was a great effort.
  • David Basinger looked strong as the top Seton finisher in the 200 IM
  • Does anyone have more fun at a swim meet than Maggie Murphy? She was dancing and smiling at the blocks before her 50 Free.
  • Cat Rogers earned her first name with a very quick start off the blocks in the 50 Free.
  • Thomas Kosten rolled through his heat of 50 Free, winning it in a PR time. He looked good.
  • The coaches have declared that John Ross has the “best start stance”. He was also getting very long on his 50 backstroke.
  • Lauren Donohoe came within .14 seconds of beating PVI top sprinter in the 100 Free.
  • Greg Bliss stepped up and swam the 500 Free. He scored in both the meet with PVI and the meet with Collegiate.  In addition, I’ve never seen his Fly look better than it did the medley relay.
  • I enjoyed watching Jonathan Jacobeen apply the things we are learning in practice to his 50 Free leg on one of our 200 Free relays.
  • Christian “Rocky” Kleb has made serious improvement in his dives. He really does a nice pike now so that his hands, head, shoulders, hips, and feet all enter the water at the same place.
  • Keeley Cook had a very nice underwater body dolphin on her backstroke walls. I can’t wait to watch her grow into that great stroke she’s developing.
  • Michael O’Donohue has made great improvement in his backstroke. He looked pretty good on Friday.
  • Rachel Lambrecht won her heat of 100 Breast, pulling away from the pack on the 3rd
  • I watched Nicki Smith pulling all the way through on her leg of the 400 Free relay. Coach Lowell even called her stroke “elegant”.  “Elegant” can be the first step toward “fast”!
  • David Harris looked very strong on the back end of his 400 Free relay.
  • In addition to Matt Crowhurst’s two PRs, he showed a great deal of improvement on the anchor leg of one of our 400 Free relays.
  • Christian Vestermark is doing a nice job of “catching up” on his freestyle. (“Catch-up” refers the fact that you should not start pulling down with one hand until your other hand catches up with it out in front of your body – this keeps you in a streamlined position for the maximum amount of time)
  • One of the reasons that Megan Morch has gotten so fast is that her strokes are so long. She’s now one of our top sprinters.
  • David Basinger has a really nice Fly.

Opportunities to Improve

  • I was very disappointed when we lined up for the handshake, and it seemed like half the team was gone. I sent a parent into the girl’s locker room, and she found it flooded with at least 16 Seton girls who not only left their teammates to swim the final events with support but failed to represent Seton in the post meet display of good sportsmanship.  High School swimming is not like USA swimming where top individual performance is the goal.  We are a team.  We need to look like a team, cheer like a team, support each other like a team, win and lose like a team, and congratulate our opponents like a team.  I know it was late, but we should be taking our showers after the meet is over.
  • We are still breathing too much out of our turns. I know from personal experience how hard it is not to breath out of the turn when you are really sucking wind, but we have to stop doing this.  It really slows you down off of the walls.

Final Words

Next week, we are swimming against two more Division I teams at Woodberry Forest School, about 15 miles south of Culpeper in Orange, VA.  Details will be coming shortly.  The boys are swimming Woodberry, a team that won the state championship 7 years in a row from 1997 to 2003.  The girls will be swimming Madiera, an all-girls school off of Georgetown Pike in Northern Virginia.  Madiera got 5th overall at last year’s state championship behind Trinity Episcopal, whom we beat earlier this season.  Woodberry has only a 6 lane pool.  They are allowing limited exhibition so not everyone will be able to swim in the meet.  I will let you know who is swimming as soon as I can.

Finally, I know final exams are coming up.  Time management is always a challenge during this stressful time.  Let’s all do our best to study when the time is available and not wait until the last minute.  I look forward to seeing all of you at practice.

See you tomorrow morning,

Coach Koehr

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