I’d say our first 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. From top to bottom, there were many reasons to get excited about our team’s prospects this season, including our hopes for a VSIS Division II State Championship for both boys and girls.
After only 2 and half weeks of practice, we somehow managed to swim 118 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 the new Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School join us while they get their new swimming program off the ground. Coaches from both John Paul the Great and Fredericksburg Christian Academy were grateful for the hospitality we showed their teams.
Prior to the beginning of the meet, I was pleased to announce our team captains for this year:
Mary Kate Kenna David Harris
Danielle Smith Connor Cook
Kelsey Kleb Daniel Koehr
I personally chose the team captains based on input from the other coaches and all of you who responded to our on-line survey. I must say that David Harris ran quite a campaign! He managed to garner a lot of votes, including the one vote that ultimately mattered. Congratulation to David, Connor, Daniel, Mary Kate, Danielle and Kelsey.
As an additional honor, I would like to formally designate Connor Cook and Mary Kate Kenna as Assistant Coaches. They are both USA swimmers who have exposure to superior coaching, and they are on deck every practice coaching other swimmers. Mary Kate has been extremely helpful for Coach Hoffer with the beginning swimmers. Their progress was very evident last Friday night. Connor Cook works with Coach Lowell on improving our top swimmers. I don’t know of many assistant coaches that will swim underwater beneath a practice lane, pop to the surface, and give real-time, in-the-water instruction during practice. Both of these “player-coaches” are making a big difference for our team.
New Team Records
If you’ve followed progress on our team records over the past few years, you’ll notice that they have gotten very fast, particularly on the boys side where we’ve had two high school All-America’s working on them. It has now become apparent that the boy’s team records are almost certainly going to get even faster.
Jameson Hill, a Junior and new member of our team, made his presence known to everyone in event #1 when he swam 100 Freestyle in :48.39, breaking the old record of :48.69 set by Kevin Koehr in 2006. Believe it or not, I think Jameson has a reasonably good chance to lower the record to something under :47 seconds before the end of the season! Nevin Cook’s 50 Free record of :22.12 just barely survived Jameson’s :22.36, but I’m sure Jameson will try to clean up that detail sometime before Christmas. Jameson won all five boys events, and his strongest events were not even on the agenda Friday. I’m really looking forward to seeing Jameson match up against the Collegiate School boys in the 200 and 500 Free. Last year, Nevin Cook shocked them in our regular season meet – let’s do it again! (As soon as I post this, I’ll bet I get an e-mail from Coach Stott – he knows everything – except Jameson’s 200 Free time ;-)) Welcome to Seton Jameson!
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 and Daniel Koehr , and we had a great idea about what swimmers like Mary-Kate Kenna, Alex Doonis, Lauren “the Machine” Donohoe, and Bridget Wunderly 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 that have been pretty much below the radar until now:
- David Basinger – Wow! I don’t know what he’s eating, but he should keep eating it. I thought I was going to have to write David a speeding ticket Friday night. David has always been a solid swimmer, but now he is a threat to score at States for us, especially in the relays. Incredibly, he dropped 4.50 seconds off his previous best 100 Free time to go :54.97! He’s only been in the water for 2 and half weeks so imagine what he’ll do when he is in better shape. David PR’d in every event that he completed, and showed us that he could swim butterfly when he got 3rd behind our two top male swimmers. David’s great butterfly performance (:27.87 in 50 Fly) opens up some possibilities for us in the medley relay now. It will really open up possibilities if we can get him under :26. David is only a sophomore.
- Vincent “Catfish” Dunn – Catfish, only a freshman, had huge PRs in all five events that he swam! The biggest one was a 14 second improvement in 100 Breaststroke, but the two most impressive ones were in 50 and 100 Free. Catfish cut almost 4 seconds from his 100 Free to break :55 for the first time, and he cut nearly 3 seconds from his 50 Free to break :26 for the first time. That 100 Free time moves Catfish up to our “A” 400 Free relay, a relay that we may choose to stack at States. I can see potential for a 400 Free relay with a :46, a :49 and two sub-:54s. That would be pretty quick and score some points for us.
- Carolyn Claybrooks – Carolyn, a junior, has always been a solid swimmer for us, but she really jumped up in my mind after Friday. Carolyn PR’d in all 5 events that she swam, including a 2.38 second PR in 100 Free where she crushed the 1:00 minute barrier for the first time (:58.47) and a 4.03 second PR in 100 Back when she swam a 1:10.87. Her times in the 50 and 100 Free now put her squarely in one of the top 4 relay slots for both the 200 and 400 Free relays. She also showed a lot of promise in Fly with a 30.50 in the 50. Fly is an area of opportunity for our team since Lea Mazzoccoli graduated last year.
- Jamie Smith – It is relatively easy to tell that Jamie is in 7th grade when you see him on the deck, but once he is in the water, it is not so obvious. How many 7th graders do you know that go 1:02.53 in 100 Free at the beginning of the season? Or :29.11 in 50 Free? Or 1:14.05 in 100 Back? This morning, we moved Jamie up to Coach Lowell’s practice lanes where he got to swim with the big boys. I think that Jamie Smith should have quite a future with Seton Swimming.
- Sarah Blanchard – 8th grader Sarah is new to our team, but she’s already managed to leave an impression. Her strokes, particularly her freestyle and butterfly show a lot of potential and her times are excellent for an 8th grader who only swims in the summer. I’m really looking forward to teaching her the other strokes so we can see what she is really capable of. For the sake of Mr. P, I hope Sarah is a very good basketball player, because I can see already that she can be a very good swimmer. Jessica Dunn and Katie Planchak were great basketball players too Sarah, and Mr. P still won’t talk to me about them 😉
- Lucy Bennett – Lucy, a freshman, is already showing that she can be a force in the future for Seton Swimming. Lucy PR’d in all 5 events Friday night including an 11 second PR in 100 Back and a 4 second PR in 100 Free. Her Butterfly time was the 7th fastest on the team behind several of our top swimmers who will probably never swim butterfly. That means that Lucy should be a scoring threat in Fly nearly every meet she swims it.
In addition to the swimmers above, here are the other swimmers that contributed to our PR total on Friday night:
- Jonathan Rosato never looked better in the water than he did on Friday night. His freestyle in particular showed dramatic improvement, and his times were just objective evidence for what I could clearly see just by watching. He swam PRs in all 5 events, including almost 9 seconds improvements for both his 100 Free and his 100 Back. Tremendous work Jonathan.
- Steven Shaw is going to be a good one for us in the future because he works hard and listens to the coaching. Steven had PRs in all 5 events that he swam including a 7+ second improvement in 100 Free, a 4+ second improvement in 100 Back and a 8+ second improvement in 100 Breast.
- Alex Doonis rocked on Friday, getting first place in three events and getting PRs in everything except her premier event of 100 Back. I would have expected the first place in 100 Back, but she also touched first in 50 Free and 50 Fly.
- Lauren “the Machine” Donohoe – got first in 100 Free with a PR at :55.61. That is starting to get very close to Katie Planchak’s team record of :55.13 which got 4th in States a few years back. The Machine had two other PRs including a PR during a great race with Mary Kate Kenna in 100 Breaststroke. I had no idea that she could swim breaststroke!
- Eileen Heim – had a PR almost every time she hit the water including a 4.62 second improvement in 100 Back, a 4.28 second improvement in 50 Fly, a 2.31 second improvement in 100 Breast, and a 1.82 second improvement in 100 Free. Her freestyle is really starting to look really nice.
- How about Christian “Rocky” Kleb’s four PRs? Rocky cut nearly 12 seconds from his 100 Back and nearly 5 seconds from his 100 Free along with his other PRs in 100 Breast and 50 Fly. The most improved part of Rocky’s swimming is his dive from the blocks where he is now entering the water quite cleanly. Keep up the great work Rocky!
- James Mosimann also had 4 PRs including 4+ second drops in both 50 and 100 Free, a 3+ second drop in 100 Back and an 11+ second drop in 100 Breast.
- Maggie Murphy used smile power to earn four PRs in 100 Free, 100 Back, 100 Breast and 50 Free. Her 100 Back was particularly good – she dropped 7.71 seconds!
- It was fun to watch Bernadette Wunderly do so well. Bernadette had 4 PRs including a big 5.29 second PR in 100 Free.
- Michael Collins really had quite a meet. He didn’t just have 4 PRs – he had 4 really big PRs! How do you drop over 20 seconds in 100 Free and over 25 seconds in 100 Breast? I know that Coach Kosten was very excited. I’m sure his grandfather can’t wait to see this tremendous improvement!
- Over the summer, Brendan Koehr somehow managed to lose his father’s not-so-streamlined physique and pick up a physique more like his older brothers – and it has really helped! A bigger part of the explanation is probably that Brendan has been practicing in the fast lanes with Coach Lowell. Brendan had 4 PRs including a 8.69 second PR in 100 Breast, a 5.95 second PR in 50 Fly, a 2.57 second PR in 100 Free and a 1.18 second PR in 100 Back. I’ve never seen his freestyle look so good – he is starting to look a bit like brother Kevin in the water.
- David Lambrecht made a big splash with 4 PRs Friday. David cut over 6 seconds in 100 Back, over 5 seconds in 100 Free, almost 2 seconds in 50 Free and almost 10 seconds in 100 Breast!
- By now, many of you are aware of Cat Rogers’ work ethic, so it shouldn’t surprise you that she had 4 PRs at Time Trials. Cat cut 6.42 seconds from her 100 Breast, 5.14 seconds from her 100 Back, 1.35 seconds from her 50 Fly, and .87 seconds from her 100 Free.
- Senior Christian Vestermark continues to improve with 3 PRs. At the end of last season, Christian was really starting to make some good progress in 100 Backstroke, and that progress continued with a 12.83 second PR on Friday. He also cut time in 50 Free and 50 Fly.
- Daniela Sinner swam 3 PRs including a big 8.48 second PR in 100 Back, a 1.96 second PR in 100 Free and a 1.12 second PR in 50 Fly.
- John Ross is starting to show real promise, particularly in Breaststroke. He had 3 PRs including another 5.18 second drop in 100 Breast, a 2.65 second drop in 100 Free and a .48 second drop in 50 Fly.
- Monica Mosimann made a lot of improvement last season, and her progress and continued into this season. Monica’s 3 PRs included a 2.84 second PR in 100 Back, a 1.89 second PR in 100 Free and a .38 second PR in 100 Breast.
- 7th grader Joseph Kosten had three really big PRs including an 11.28 second PR in 100 Back and a 10.89 second PR in 100 Free. He also PR’d in 50 Free by 3.34 seconds.
- Rachel Lambrecht is going to be a real scoring threat in the future in a variety of events. I usually think of Rachel as a breaststroker, but she is showed great improvement in Backstroke (6.68 seconds), 100 Free (4.69 seconds) and 50 Free (.38 seconds)
- Connor Cook showed what a standout swimmer he will be for us this season. Connor had two PRs while placing 2nd behind Jameson in all five events. How about :52.56 in 100 Free? When a swimmer as strong as Connor Cook is your 2nd best guy, you have a strong team!
- Mary Kate Kenna is another top swimmer that continues to improve. She cut .78 seconds in 100 Free and .48 seconds in 50 Fly. She also won the 100 Breast.
- Bridget Wunderly looks very strong in the water this season. On Friday, she had a 2.01 second PR in 50 Fly and a .74 second PR in 100 Free. With Lea Mazzoccoli’s graduation, there are some big opportunities in butterfly this season.
- Hannah Lowell just seems to keep getting better. After a summer of triathlon success, she cut 13.63 seconds from her 100 Back and 4.00 seconds from her 100 Free.
- Emily Lowell was keeping pace in the Lowell household with 2 PRs also. Emily really listens well in practice and that resulted in a 20.42 second improvement in her 100 Free! Emily also cut 4.44 seconds in 50 Free.
- Andrew Minarik made the effort this Fall to do some swimming on his own (with Daniel Koehr), and the extra work is starting to pay off. Andrew cut 3.86 seconds in 100 Breast and 3.14 seconds in 50 Fly.
- Leslie Zapiain is back stronger than ever after a year hiatus from swimming. Breaststroke was always her strongest event, and she still managed to make a 1.78 second improvement. She also cut 2.72 seconds from her 100 Back.
- Sarah Zapiain followed suite with two big PRs, including a 3.62 second PR in 100 Back and a 2.29 second PR in 100 Free.
- Kristen Rafter now knows what the term “double or nothing” means. Before her 100 Free event, she wanted to bet me that she wasn’t going to do well. Now I’ve been watching her in practice, so I knew I was a sure winner. After she improved 2.52 seconds, she wanted a chance to earn her money back. It was only after she cut 1.79 in 100 Back that she realized she owed me double! I told her she can work off the debt for $1 per PR. I’m looking forward to the payback!
- Lexy Smith had a huge 7.35 second PR in 100 Free and a .71 second PR in 50 Free.
- Daniel Koehr showed again that he will be force for Seton this season, particularly on the relays at States. Daniel also had a PR in 50 Fly.
- David Harris cut .60 seconds in 100 Back. His other times are also excellent considering that he stopped swimming USA this season. I can see his strokes improving, so once he gets into better shape later in the season, I’m expecting to see his times improve also.
- Michael O’Donnell is coming off a strong varsity soccer season and is now ready for a strong swimming season. He started with a 4.63 second PR in 100 Back.
- Alex Harrill’s freestyle continues to improve. On Friday, he cut 2.50 seconds from his 100 Free. I’d say he’s gearing up for another run at that 500 Free!
- It’s great to have Emma Mooney on the team again this year. Emma somehow managed to cut 10.40 seconds in 100 Free!
- Thomas Kosten is working very hard with Coach Kosten, and the results are showing. Thomas lowered his 100 Free by 4.00 seconds!
- Judith Cummings improved her 100 Free PR by 1.38 seconds. Judith is only in 9th grade, and I can see some real potential in her.
- Monica Byers is back for her 4th season even though she’s only a freshman (she’s from the days when I could get away with 6th graders on the team). She’s made a lot of improvement over the years, and that improvement continues with a 1.31 second PR in 50 Fly.
Other Great Performances
During the course of the meet, there were several new swimmers that swam in a way that got me very excited:
- Prior to the 100 Free, Joseph Scheetz told me that he couldn’t swim 100 yards. After completing 100 Free, 100 Back, 50 Free and even 50 Fly, I think we can safely say that Joseph can swim 100 yards! Joseph, you can always do more than you think you can do. I can’t wait to watch you finish the 500 before the end of the season. I’m sure Coach Hoffer and Mary Kate Kenna were very proud of him also.
- In one of the heats of 100 Free, I was screaming from the deck as Nathan Hughes and Michael Collins passed the leading FCS swimmer in the last 10 yards of 100 Free. Sometimes, the person with the most heart wins the race. This was yet another example of that.
- A couple swimmers had to learn what to do if you lose your goggles. Both Christian Vestermark and Mary-Margaret Harrill seemed to intuitively do the right thing – just keep going!
- If you saw Michael Hill swim that 100 Freestyle, you could see him really trying to use the techniques that we have been trying to teach. That’s why he’s going to continue to improve. I also think that Michael could have some good potential in Breaststroke. We’ll start concentrating on Breast and Fly after Thanksgiving.
- I’ve been watching 7th grader Julia Irving in practice, and I think that she can be a good swimmer for Seton. It was great to see her trying to roll more in her backstroke and getting long in freestyle. Now if we can just keep that head down and still – at practice all I say is, “Julia, what am I about to tell you?” She always knows the answer, and I can see her thinking about it.
- Krista Shaw is swimming at John Paul the Great, but she learned a lot about swimming here at Seton. I must say that I was very pleased to watch her win her heat.
- One of the notes that I wrote on my meet sheet after Sarah Heim’s entry in 100 Breaststroke was “wow!” I wrote the same thing after Eileen Heim, Theresa Verry and Mary-Margaret Harrill. I’m really looking forward to working on Breaststroke with these four.
- I hope you all got see that fast heat of girls 100 Breaststroke where Mary Kate Kenna and Lauren “the Machine” Donohoe faced off. I wished the CTS had been working because the race was very close. The hand timers said that MK got her. I’ll definitely be setting up a rematch in the future!
- Timmy Murphy wanted to know how far underwater he should try to go during 50 Butterfly. After pointing out the red ring on the lane line and carefully explaining that the ring marked the maximum 15 meters he could go underwater on each turn, I told him that I’d give him free pizza if he went half way. He made it, and then burned up the water once he was on top. After the race, he came running up to me to say, “Hey Coach Koehr – the pizza is already free!” I’m looking forward to working with him on butterfly.
- I’m also looking forward to working with Steven Shaw, Leslie Zapiain and Bernadette Wunderly, who showed me some great potential in butterfly.
- Did you know that Cat Rogers can swim Breaststroke? Neither did I. The last Rogers that I knew that was a breaststroker was her older brother Will. (Is he coming to the homecoming meet on Dec 20th?)
- Coach Kosten made a comment to me during the meet about Kristin Rafter. He asked me, “Did you ever notice how Kristin finishes strong every time?”. I think that is just great.
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. 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 don’t think anyone worked harder Friday night than Mrs. McGurk, who I understand was induced that night. I haven’t heard any more about it, but she’s been in my prayers. I often get asked how we get some many kids on our team (I think the number has settled at 74!). 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 pasta was a nice touch!
So we’re off to another great season. A season that I hope will end with over 500 PRs, our 15th straight Conference Title, and two State Championships. Championships are won at 6:04 a.m. in morning. See you tomorrow morning.