I’d say our second annual Time Trials and Pool Party was a huge success! We swam only 5 individual events with the dual purpose of 1) getting a baseline time for everyone against which to measure progress, and 2) to kick off the season with a team party. One of the events that we swam was 50 Fly, which is not a normal high school event, but we did it so the coaches could get an early idea on who has potential in that stroke. From top to bottom, there were many reasons to get excited about our team’s prospects this season, including our hopes to defend our boys and girls VSIS Division II State Championships.
After only 2 and half weeks of practice, we somehow managed to swim 109 Personal Records (PRs)! This is even more amazing when you consider that a lot of our swimmers were swimming these events for the first time so there was no way for them to get a PR.
I’ve always said that the fastest way to get faster is to do the stroke right. I guess we’ve proven that once again. It was so exciting for the other coaches and me to watch so many swimmers swimming “cheatin’ catch-up” freestyle with their heads “quiet” and their hips rolling. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, ask your swimmer).
It was also great to have Fredericksburg Christian Academy join us. Their coaches were grateful for the hospitality we showed their team.
Up and Comers
Every year, when we swim time trials, someone jumps out to surprise me, so I’ve learned to look for it now. Going into time trials, we pretty much knew about swimmers like Jameson Hill, Connor Cook, David Basinger, Daniel Koehr, and Catfish Dunn, and we had a great idea about what swimmers like Alex Doonis, Lauren “the Machine” Donohoe, Carolyn Claybrooks, Bridget Wunderly, Laura Talbott and Cat Rogers could do, but boy was I excited when I saw several other swimmers step out on Friday night. Here are some up and coming swimmers to watch:
- Michael Hill was simply unbelievable on Friday night. This time last season, Michael was swimming in the beginner lane at practice – I mean the guy could barely swim. Well that is certainly not the case anymore! After tremendous improvement last season (he was awarded the Most Improved Swimmer), he has returned to become a State Meet qualifier in 100 Breaststroke. Yes – Michael swam a State Meet qualifying time Friday night when he went 1:11.47! From beginner to State qualifier in 1 year – wow! And that will be big for Seton swimming, because the Breaststroker in our “A” medley relay (Daniel Koehr) is a senior. Michael has now established himself as the future of the breaststroke event for Seton. Michael also cut over 28 seconds in 100 Back, 7.71 seconds in 100 Free, and almost 2 seconds in 50 Free. Welcome to the big leagues Michael!
- Last year, we talked a lot about the “Fab-14s” or the boy’s class of 2014. Well they were certainly fabulous last night, and so were their new 7th grade teammates. In Bridget Wunderly’s interview of me for the school paper, she asked me what I was doing to prepare for the State Championship. I told her that if we win this year’s state championship, it will be the result of work done 3 or 4 years ago. That same is true of future State Championships. I can see already that our middle school boys are going to be serious State Championship contenders in next 3 or 4 years:
- After watching 8th grader Jamie Smith practice in Assistant Swimmer/Coach Connor Cook’s practice lanes with the fastest kids on the team, it should not have surprised me that he was going to swim well, but I never expected an 8th grader to go :58.61 in 100 Free at a time trial meet! That was a 3.82 second improvement over his previous PR. And how about a 1:09.10 in 100 Back, a 4.95 second improvement? Or a 7.07 second PR in 100 Breast? Or a 26.94 for an 8th grader in 50 Free? Heck, he even cut more than a second from his 50 Fly. The kid’s gonna be good.
- New swimmer and 8th grader Patrick Koehr showed his versatility and outstanding stroke technique on Friday. Patrick proved that he can be competitive in all 4 strokes, which is going to be very helpful to the team as he gets older. If you need an idea of how fast Patrick can be, he also has proven able to practice in Connor Cook’s practice lanes.
- Timmy Murphy rocked with 4 PRs in 5 swims including a big 4.91 second PR in 100 Free (1:03.91) and a 5.69 second PR in 100 Back. Timmy also cut .24 seconds in 50 Free (29.27) and a 1.09 second PR in 50 Fly. That’s a very solid performance for the 8th
- Joseph Kosten really stepped it up a notch with 4 PRs – that was a PR in every event where he had a previous time. His biggest drop was a 20 second improvement in 100 Backstroke! He also cut 1.56 seconds in 100 Free and 2.32 seconds in 100 Breaststroke.
- Connor Kleb had quite a night with 5 PRs. How about a 6.89 second drop in 100 Breast and a 5.35 second drop in 100 Back? Connor also cut 1.37 seconds from his 100 Free, 1.66 seconds in 50 Fly, and .84 seconds in 50 Free.
- Joseph Kenna has been temporarily sidelined with a football injury, but I understand he’ll be back in the water with us on Monday. He went an amazing 26.84 in 50 Free as a 7th grader so you can see how excited an already excitable coach can get about having him on the back end of those State Championship Meet relays in a few years.
- Now, to that core group of 8th graders, let’s add some new 7th graders that really showed me something Friday night:
- Paul Pechie nearly broke 30 seconds in 50 Free, establishing himself as the fastest 50 freestyler in this class – at least for now 😉 Paul showed me that he will ultimately be capable of competing in all 4 strokes because I could see him trying to apply the things we are learning in practice – Coach Kosten particularly noticed how he applied our lessons on streamlining and breakouts. The glide in his breaststroke was particularly good. I also understand that this former homeschooler got straight A’s for his first mid-term grades – not easily done the first time you attend school.
- Joseph Irving was right there will Paul in the freestyle events and also swam quite well in the other strokes. Joseph is very close to breaking 30 seconds in 50 Free, and Coach Kosten thinks this would be a good goal for him.
- Tommy Shaw caught my eye when I saw that red hair blazing through the water. He swam very well in everything, especially that 1:13.63 in 100 Free which makes him the fastest 100 freestyler in the class – at least for now 😉
- And for you other 7th and 8th grade boys including Kenneth Cuomo, Jack Geiran, Michael Manley, Paul Mosimann, and Jude Van de Voorde: Remember, that every year, there seems to be a Michael Hill who leaps from the beginning lanes to the scoring lanes. Sometimes it takes one year, sometimes it takes 4 years, but if you work hard and listen in practice, you can be that one I tell new swimmers about in the future. You guys all swam well!
- Vincent “Catfish” Dunn crushed his previous best times in all 5 attempts on Friday, showing his versatility with every stroke. He was particularly good in his favorite event, 100 Back, where he cut more than a second to go :58.64. To put that into some perspective, eventual All-America Kevin Koehr went :59.33 on November 21st of his sophomore year, so Catfish is certainly on pace to be something special.
- It sure is great to have Lucy Bennett back on the team and she made it easy for me to be happy with 5 PRs – that was a PR in every single event she swam! Her biggest improvements were in 100 Breaststroke (4.19 seconds) and 100 Back (2.26 seconds). She also cut time in fly and free. Looks like Lucy is going to be a real force for us in Fly and the IM this season.
In addition to the swimmers above, here are the other swimmers that contributed to our PR total on Friday night:
- Brendan Koehr was on target all 5 times he swam last night, setting a personal record each time he swam. His best race was in 100 Backstroke where he swam very long, rolled nicely and got his shoulders high – the result was a 2.27 second PR. Brendan also cut 2.22 seconds in 50 Fly, .97 seconds in 100 Breast, .47 seconds in 100 Free and .33 seconds in 50 Free. I expect that Brendan will score a lot of points for Seton this season.
- Cat Rogers leaped from basketball to an All-State 200 Freestyle relay performance last season, and her future seems even brighter. Last year, Cat became a standout in 100 Breast and 50 Free. Her powerful kick has been a great asset in both of these races. This year, her 4 PRs showed that she can become a standout in the other events also. Her most outstanding swim of the night was her 12.07 second PR in 100 Back, although I am sure she is most pleased with her .56 PR in 50 Free. Her most exciting event was 100 Free, where, while competing in the fastest heat, she was the first one to the wall after the 1st 25 – Cat is very quick.
- David Basinger was a machine (yes, I know that name is taken!) on Friday with 4 PRs. He cut nearly two seconds from his 100 Free and 100 Back, more than a second in 50 Fly, and over 6 seconds in 100 Breast. That improvement in 100 Breast could bode well for his chances in the 200 IM
- Theresa Verry had a fun night, and her joy made my night too! She PR’d in all 5 events that she swam including 56 second drop in 100 Free, a 2.44 second drop in 50 Fly, a 2.40 second drop in 100 Breast, a ,89 second drop in 100 Back and .8 second drop in 50 Free. Thanks for making it fun for me too Theresa!
- How about David Lambrecht’s 5 PR performance? He has really been trying hard in practice, and the results showed it. We worked on backstroke last week, and David must have been listening because he cut 7.93 seconds from his PR. He also cut 3.33 seconds in 100 Free, 8.46 seconds in 50 Fly, .47 seconds in 100 Breast, and .23 seconds in 50 Free.
- Emily Lowell swam just beautifully and had 4 PRs. She cut 5.6 seconds in 100 Back, 4.26 seconds in 100 Free, 5.47 seconds in 50 Fly and 1.59 seconds in 100 Breast. Quite a night for Emily.
- Thomas Kosten, a sophomore, showed that he is going to be able to step up when our senior boys graduate. TK had 4 PRs including a 22.96 second PR in 100 Back and a 2.37 second PR in 50 Fly. TK also cut time in 100 Breast and 100 Free. As he continues to work hard in practice, his excellent stroke technique is going to translate better to even more speed.
- Peter Quinan cut time in all 4 events in which he had a previous time. His biggest drops were a 14.14 second PR in 100 Free and a 10.48 second PR in 100 Breast. He also cut 6.85 seconds in 100 Back and 1.79 seconds in 50 Free. Only a freshman, Peter has lots of time to continue this rapid pace of improvement.
- Freshman James Mosimann had 3 PRs including a 6.43 second drop in 100 Breast, a 2.03 second drop in 50 Fly and a 2.04 second drop in 100 Free. Nice work James!
- Junior Jonathan Rosato is back, and I’m expecting some serious scoring out of him this season. He’s off to a good start, improving 3.27 seconds in 50 Fly, 2.50 seconds in 100 Free, and .49 seconds in 50 Free. I already can’t wait to see what he can do in 100 Fly 😉
- Sophomore Kevin Bliss is bigger and stronger this year, and it showed with his 3.76 second PR in 100 Breast and his 2.91 second PR in 50 Fly.
- Monica Byers had a productive evening with PRs in 100 Free (by 1.40 seconds) and 50 Fly (by .97 seconds)
- Our backstroke work this past week paid off for Michael Collins who had a 1.10 second PR in the event. He also cut 7.90 seconds from his 50 Fly.
- Mary Fowler really did a nice job in 100 Free, improving by 11.94 seconds. She also cut 3.54 seconds in 100 Back.
- It is great to have the Heims back on the team, and not just because Mrs. Heim so graciously volunteered to run the concessions with her sister again at the JV Invitational. Sarah Heim had a very productive evening with a 1.62 second PR in 100 Back and a 1.25 second PR in 50 Fly.
- Did you know that Jameson Hill can swim breaststroke? He dropped 2.02 seconds from the best time I had in my database. He also cut a half second from his 50 Fly and went a blazing 24.64 – not too shabby. That 21.94 in 50 Free was a nice effort also. I hope other swimmers notice how hard Jameson kicks when he swims the sprints.
- Hannah Lowell is coming off a good cross country season and showed that she is going to score for us this season. She dropped another 1.70 seconds in 100 Free and .96 seconds in 50 Fly.
- Bernadette Wunderly’s strokes continue to improve, and she was rewarded for her work with 2 PRs, one in 100 Back (by 1.46 seconds) and one in 100 Free (by .94 seconds)
- Bridget Wunderly rocked on Friday night with a 1.15 second PR in 50 Fly to go 29.48, the fastest 50 Fly time on the team. She also came close to breaking a minute in 100 Free with a 1.53 second PR. Those are big improvements for a swimmer of Bridget’s caliber.
- Welcome back to Seton Swimming Shannon Kerns, and congratulations on your PRs in 100 Free (by 2.40 seconds) and 50 Free (by 1.20 seconds). Shannon really seems to be enjoying swimming so far this year, and I’m glad her joy is reflecting in her times. And after watching that 50 Fly, I think we may have found another event for her.
- I don’t know how he does it, but Steven Shaw had two PRs in spite of the fact that he had a splint on his fingers and hasn’t been able to practice with us yet. He cut 4.94 seconds from his 100 Breaststroke PR and .40 seconds from his 50 Free PR.
- Joe Scheetz had his best performance ever in 100 Backstroke, cutting 4.45 seconds from his previous PR. He also finished 100 Breaststroke for the first time with an outstanding effort.
- Lizzie Rogers cut .16 seconds from her 50 Fly. What I’m really looking forward to is to see her improve in 100 backstroke after she gets some more conditioning under her belt – her stroke was looking excellent in practice.
- Andrew Minarik still makes me laugh, so it gave me great joy to watch him improve his 100 Free PR by .16 seconds after only 2.5 weeks in the water. Just think how much he could improve if he gets in the water at practice right when it begins 😉
- Junior Rachel Lambrecht is back to score a lot of points for Seton this season. Her breaststroke was looking strong, and she cut a half second from her 50 Fly PR. I think Rachel has some potential in Fly this year.
- Even though he has only been in the water for 2.5 weeks, Daniel Koehr was successful in competing with the other top swimmers who started swimming earlier this fall. We expected his breaststroke to be strong, but I was most pleased with his 1.22 second PR in 50 Fly.
- Rocky Kleb also had a big improvement in 50 Fly, cutting 2.44 seconds from his previous PR.
- It is great to have Patrick Kenna back after a fall of playing Football and Lacrosse. His added strength appeared to pay off with a 2.04 second PR in 50 Fly. Maybe we’ll had Fly to his repertoire of sprint events this season? Really Patrick – it could be fun.
- Jonathan Jacobeen works really hard in practice, which probably explains his 8.59 second PR in 100 Free. Nice work Jonathan.
- 8th grader Julia Irving is going to be one of the good ones in the future. I was happy to see her continue to improve in 100 Free, this time by .32 seconds.
- Jack Corkery has grown in size and maturity since last season, and it showed in his performance in 100 Free where he dropped 6.58 seconds.
- Nice work on that breaststroke Carolyn Claybrooks – you cut .86 seconds from your PR.
Other Great Performances
During the course of the meet, there were several new swimmers that swam in a way that got me very excited:
- It was very hard not to get excited watching the fast heats of both the boys and girls on Friday:
- On the boy’s side, we have some kids that can really rock! I can easily imagine a 4 x 100 Free relay with 4 boys all under :50 seconds and a boys medley relay that can possibly eclipse our team record. That would really be doing something if this year’s medley beat our team record because our record setting relay had 2 All-America’s and a third swimmer that eventually went on to swim in college – and that relay was just out-touched to place second overall at States. So watch out this season for Jameson Hill, Connor Cook, David Basinger, Catfish Dunn and Daniel Koehr
- On the girl’s side, our 4 x 50 Free relay placed 3rd overall at States last year, and everyone who swam in it is coming back. And, like the boys, we should be very strong with our medley relay also. I love having a strong medley relay because it is the first event and can set the tone for a meet. Watch out this season for Alex Doonis, Lauren “the Machine” Donohoe, Cat Rogers, Bridget Wunderly, Carolyn Claybrooks and Laura Talbott. And with Lucy Bennett and Rachel Lambrecht coming up fast, it is clear that we are very deep in fast girls this year.
- I could see new swimmer Kenneth Cuomo really trying to get as long as possible during his freestyle events. I think he will improve even more once he learns to not hold his breath underwater and to keep his head down and still. I see a lot of potential in Kenneth.
- In 100 Free, I think that Mary Fowler had the best dive off of the blocks that she has ever had. She also gave a great effort to complete that 50 Fly!
- Brendan Koehr used his height very well during an excellent backstroke start. Coach Lowell and I agreed that he looked a bit like his older brother Kevin for a moment there. And his breakout and stroke were also looking very good.
- David Basinger’s underwater was tremendous in 100 Backstroke. Keep doing that David.
- There’s obviously a lot that we all can learn from watching Jameson Hill, but sometimes the lessons are simple ones. Did you notice how, even for a little meet like our high school time trials, he was behind the blocks more than 4 heats before he was supposed to swim in order to get ready?
- Mikey Wittlinger and Sophia Fusco clearly got something out of our backstroke work in practice. I could see both of them keeping their heads back and rolling their shoulders. It was a beautiful thing to watch. Both of these girls are first year swimmers on our team.
- Did you see Ann Pennefather’s backstroke start? We haven’t worked on that yet, but when we do, I think I’ll be using her to demonstrate to everyone. Her breaststroke also looked very good. Welcome to the team Ann!
- Bridget Wunderly looks even stronger this year than she did last year. Those powerful strokes are going to translate into some pretty good times, I’m sure.
- New swimmer and freshman Peter Rohan crushed his heat in 100 Breaststroke. He’s a big strong kid so continued work in practice on technique should really pay off for him.
- Keeley Cook’s breaststroke was simply beautiful – very long with a nice body dolphin. As she gets stronger, I think we’re going to see some pretty competitive times out of her.
- Lucy Bennett also had a beautiful body dolphin in her breaststroke.
- Theresa Verry had a great glide to her breaststroke. I like how “skinny” she got before she would “shoot”. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, we’ll be working on this after Thanksgiving)
- This is the first year that Junior Pat Hall has swum, but it sure is going to be fun watching him get better!
- Senior Daniela Sinner fought through knee problems to swim in the free and back events Friday. Nice work Daniela – keep working hard in practice.
- Connor Kleb was awesome in that 50 Fly.
- Emilia Fusco, a junior, is just starting her first year at Seton, and from what I can tell, really seems to be enjoying it. I can also tell that she works to apply what she is learning in practice, and that is what is going to make her a great asset to our team. Welcome Emilia, and thanks for that great treatment I get from you when I visit your father’s Irish restaurant!
- Sophomores Sarah McGurk, Judith Cummings, and Maggie Murphy are back and working hard to step up in the future as our seniors graduate. No Maggie, floaties are not allowed!
- I am very pleased that Junior Monica Mosimann is back on the team this year. Her practice habits are a great example for the others in her lane. Keep smiling Monica!
- It is also great to have three new middle school girls on the team this season: Fiona Geiran, Sally Marrazzo and Fiona Seoh (pronounced “sir”). The future of the team is with swimmers like these so I hope they keep working to learn the strokes so they can keep improving.
- Alexandra Sinner is a 7th grader at All Saints who hopes to come to Seton when she is in 9th grade so I let her swim with us during time trials – and boy did she make the most of it. How about a 1:16.67 in 100 Back and a 29.91 in 50 Free? For a 7th grader! We have a spot for you on the team Alex whenever you are ready!
Opportunities for Improvement
I know the season has just begun, so you might expect some problems with things that we haven’t gotten to yet, but I was a bit dismayed about how we were doing on some of the things that we have worked on:
- The biggest problem was our walls. Nearly everyone, even some of our top swimmers, was breathing off the walls in freestyle. Besides laziness, this is caused by how you break out. Remember what we learned last week in practice – if you roll to the side on which you normally breath and pull with your bottom hand on the breakout, you will be taking your first stroke with you off hand. This means you will be less likely to take a breath off the wall. True, this feels awkward at first. That is why you have to do it on EVERY wall at practice.
- Our streamlines off the wall were not very good either. Paraphrasing a top local coach, sometimes, the guy who wins is the guy who slows down the least. Why waste a perfectly good push-off from the wall
I am often asked how we get some many kids on our team (I think the number has settled at 75!). One of the things I tell people is, at Seton, we literally grow ‘em. Just look how many siblings are on our team and how many smaller siblings come to our meets. So Seton Swim moms, keep making those future Seton swimmers! (I know my wife is doing her part)
And it was so many of those Moms and Dads that made the meet go so well. Seton has such a spirit of volunteerism. I thought it was great to see so many parents step up. Besides the normal cast of characters that make our meets so special, I like to throw out a special thank you to Cathy Lowell who did such a great job of planning the food for the pool party. The extra side dishes were a nice touch!
So we’re off to another great season. A season that I hope will end with over 500 PRs, our 16th straight Conference Title, and two more State Championships. But remember, Seton championships are won at 6:04 a.m. in morning. See you tomorrow morning.