Last weekend (Feb 13-14, 2015), we took 18 swimmers into the VISAA State Swimming and Diving Championship at the Collegiate Aquatic Center in Richmond, and our Girls came home with the Division II State Runner-up trophy! The swimming I saw from our team was amazing, as it seems to be every year at States. I was even more pleased with the way the team interacted and encouraged each other.
A big thank to Mrs. Kenna who organized all of our meals and activities between sessions. It was so much fun watching our kids line dance to “Copperhead Road” and play games. I particularly enjoyed watching Mrs. Heim celebrate after she won the right, in a game called “Beat the Odds”, to have her daughter Emily Heim thrown in the hotel pool by Paul Pechie and Patrick Pennefather. I was also very pleased with the way that I saw swimmers encouraging each other. Coach Lowell declared Michaela Pennefather his “swimmer of the meet” for the way she encouraged Cat Pechie to swim such a great split in the 400 Free Relay. I’ll tell you truthfully that I was as happy about watching our team act like a team as I was about some of the great swimming. I’m looking forward to a lot more of that next season!
The meet just seems to get more competitive every year. Imagine a meet where State records get broken eight (8) times and a girls goes :55 in 100 Back and places 2nd! I could tell countless stories of incredible feats of athletic prowess, but the theme is all the same: Virginia is becoming one of the premier swimming hotbeds in the country, and it sure is fun to watch.
Here’s an excerpt from the scoring of a very exciting meet – particularly on the girl’s side where the meet came down to the final relay:
- Collegiate School 271
- Catherine’s School 269
- Hampton Roads Academy 253 – Division II Champ
- Trinity Episcopal 231
- Flint Hill 182
- Madeira School 152
- Bishop Ireton 115
- Seton School 84 – Division II Runner-up
- Bishop O’Connell 81
- Norfolk Academy 57
- Paul VI 87
- Highland 37
- Fredericksburg Christian 29
- John Paul the Great 18
- Trinity Episcopal 327
- Christopher’s School 255
- Woodberry Forest 194
- Fork Union Military 191
- Hampton Roads Academy 5 – Division II Champ
- Stephen’s/St. Agnes 148
- Bishop O’Connell 144
- Norfolk Academy 118
- Bishop Ireton 105
- Fredericksburg Christian 41 – Division II Runner-up
- Paul VI 24
- John Paul the Great 19
Hampton Roads Academy has a won the Division II State Champions for the last three years following up on our previous four (4) year streak as champions, and next year, I expect them to be the challenge for the girls once again. They have two tremendous seniors, Payton Baldwin and Nicole Piercy who are graduating, but they have will still have four (4) sprinters under 25.13 and two Breaststrokers under 1:10. We are going to have our work cut out for us next season if are current group of junior stars are to claim another championship banner for the gym during their senior season.
Anna Kenna Medals Four (4) Times!
Anna Kenna was, like last year, nearly unbelievable this weekend, and our record board at Seton is going to show it! She’s definitely a big meet swimmer.
In the State Championships, we swim Preliminary sessions in the mornings to determine who will be in the top 16 for the Final sessions in the evenings. The top 8 are designated the Championship Final (or “A Final”) and the next 8 are designated the Consolation Final (or “B Final”). Anna had four (4) swims this past weekend and came back for the Championship Final in all four (4) of them!
She had so many great swims that I hardly know where to begin:
- Leading off the medley relay, Anna continued to draw a lot of attention with those big underwaters. Her previous best 50 Back was 27.34, which was also our team record. In preliminaries, she “popped” a 27.28 to swim the fastest split in the meet and set a new Seton record. Then in the Championship finals (top 8 in the entire state), she swam a lead-off split of 27.03, another new Seton Record! That was the fastest split in the fastest heat with the fastest backstrokers in the meet! In the end, she had crushed her own record once again! But she wasn’t done with her amazing feats.
- Anna’s 100 Free swim was probably her best individual swim of the day. Swimming a PR :54.38 in the prelims, she qualified for the Finals as the 4th Her great start and big underwaters were a real help here, having her at the first turn in 2nd place. In the Finals, she came back and swam a :54.40 to earn the 6th place medal.
- In her lead-off for our 200 Free Relay, she swam right at her PRs, 25.64 in Prelims and 25.77 in the Finals. I often like to put our fastest swimmer in the lead-off spot to build momentum – well Anna certainly did that – our girls once again medaled with a 7th place finish
- In her final swim for 100 Back, Anna came into the meet seeded 4th with that tremendous :58.69 at National Catholics. She found herself in an event with two of the three fastest swimmers in the meet, Reni Moshos from Highland and the eventual Swimmer of the Meet, Kate Nezelek from Trinity Episcopal. She was just a few minutes out of the water from the 200 Free Relay when she hit her heat for the 100 Back. In prelims, she went :59.49 and qualified as the 6th seed for Finals. Then in Finals, she held her 6th place medal with a :59.32. The top 2 finishers both swam All-America qualifying times and both broke the State record in the fastest event of the meet, but Anna showed that, with her big underwaters, she could swim with the best of them.
- Last year, Anna had a 7th place and three (3) 9th place finishes and two new team records. This year, she improved that to two (2) individual 6th place finishes, plus 7th and 8th place finishes in her relays. Not a bad weekend’s work!
Other Swimmers Who Made it Back to Finals Individually
Every year, this meet gets faster, so it is no small feat to qualify individually in the top 16 during Prelims, but we had one other girl do it, plus two others who qualified as alternates:
- Kimberly Rector had her two best swims of the year in the 500 Free. In the Prelims, she swam a 2.13 second PR to go 5:32.85 and qualify as the 15th And then she really put it all together for the Finals where she dropped to 5:27.28 to finish in 13th place! Her finals swim was particularly exciting as we watched her 50 splits flash on the board at a remarkably consistent 33.5 after 33.5. It was a beautiful thing to watch.
- Claire Kenna somehow managed to lower her PR once again, this time by .09 seconds, to go 1:12.53 and qualify in 17th place – missing the top 16 by only .07 seconds! That left her as the first alternate, but we were all elated at the quality of her swim
- Emily Heim had the swim of her season in that same 100 Breast preliminary heat where she dropped a whopping 1.30 seconds to go 1:12.64 for 18th Emily was only .18 seconds out of the top 16! Emily also had an absolutely incredible Breaststroke leg on the relay that I’ll talk about below.
Our Girls State Championship Runner-up Status was Earned with our Relays!
The relays in this meet were simply incredible, so I was so pleased to have all three of our Girls relays emerge from preliminaries in the top 16 and earn a spot to compete in the finals later that night. Of Seton’s 84 points, 54 of them were scored with these three (3) relays which will give you an idea of why I often put top swimmers in only one individual event and three (3) relays – relays score double points and where these championship meets are won:
- Our Girls 200 Medley Relay of Anna Kenna, Emily Heim, Alex Sinner and Claire Kenna scored 22 points for us with their 8th place finish after they came “back to music” (i.e. the top 8 finalist march to the blocks and get introduced to music). You already read about Anna’s split, but the other three were stellar also. Emily swam the third and fourth best splits of her life in prelims and finals, 32.90 and 32.09 respectively – in finals, we were actually even with the leaders when Emily touched! Alex swam two very good fly legs with a PR split of 28.17 in the Prelims and a 28.31 in the Finals, and Claire totally rocked the anchor with splits of 25.80 and 25.47. These girls came into the meet with a PR 1:54.70, then dropped to 1:545.15 in the Prelims and an incredible 1:52.90 in the Finals. Wow! In the history of Seton swimming, that was the 3rd fastest Girls 200 Medley Relay ever, behind only the Prelim and Finals swim in 2011 of Alex Doonis, Cat Rogers, Bridget Wunderly and Lauren Donohoe who went 1:50.25 and broke the State record at that time.
- Our Girls 200 Free Relay of Anna Kenna, Dani Flook, Kimberly Rector and Claire Kenna “came back to music” once again and ended up scoring 24 points for their highest relay finish of the meet, 7th place. They entered the meet with a 1:45.47 and left it with a new PR 1:44.66. Anna had her normal strong lead-off (25.64) and Claire was her usual powerful anchor (25.90), but it was the middle of this relay that saw the biggest drops. Dani Flook was swimming out of her mind all weekend (more on that below). In this relay, she split 26.51 in Prelims and then 26.47 in the Finals – her standing start PR is 27.50! And Kimberly Rector, taking only one breath on the second length of her 50 split 26.64 in the Finals – her standing start PR is 27.59! These girls qualified in the top 8 by only .22 seconds, so had Dani and Kimberly not beat their PRs by so much, they would have missed the Top 8!
- Our Girls 400 Free Relay of Claire Kenna, Dani Flook, Kimberly Rector and Alex Sinner scored 8 points with a 13th place finish in the Finals to seal the deal for us as the Division II State Runner-up. I was particularly excited about their swim in the Prelims, because the psych sheet had them seeded 15th, just barely in the top 16. Well they really stepped up – so much so that they qualified 10th! Claire led-off in prelims with a strong 100 split and Alex anchored with her best 100 split of the season – a 58.22 on a standing start PR of 58.75, and once again, Dani and Kimberly really shined. Dani’s standing start PR is 59.96, but in prelims she split 57.80! Kimberly’s standing start PR is 59.29, but in Prelims she split 58.89!
There Were Plenty of Other Great Swims
Just because we didn’t always make the finals doesn’t mean that we didn’t have some other great swims:
- Dani Flook, as I mentioned above, swam out of her mind this past weekend – no one dropped more time than Dani, who was simply stellar every time she hit the water. Her first swim was the 200 Free on Friday morning. The early heats are all seeded by time so you’d expect her to be right with the other girls – so when I saw her a body length ahead after the first 50, I knew something special was happening. The scoreboard was the confirmation. After only 2:07.58, I looked up and saw her 6.79 second PR! Dani had entered the meet seeded 36th and jumped all the way up to 22nd place! She repeated the feat in 100 Back on Saturday morning. Her 3.09 second PR, down to 1:04.19, jumped her from the 31st seed to 25th place!
- Kimberly Rector didn’t just swim well in that 500 Free, she also was great in the 200 IM where she cut 1.51 seconds to go 2:24.33 and take 28th place.
- Alex Sinner took advantage of her last ever swim in 100 Fly when she went 1:05.48, .06 seconds faster than ever before. That swim was good enough for 28th place.
- Brian Koehr was our lone individual qualifier, qualifying in both the 50 and 100 Free. In the 50 Free, he swam well and ended up in 34th That was his only individual event because, given that he is out top male sprinter and relays score so many points, I opted to give him a shot at all three relays.
- Our other Relays performed very well also, particularly some of our “B” Relays:
- Our Boys 200 “A” Free Relay of Brian Koehr, Andrew Quinan, Mark O’Donohue and Tommy Flook took 19th place, just 1.16 seconds away from qualifying for the Finals. The CTS missed some splits, but I was able to see the final time of 1:38.97. They entered the meet with a seed time of 1:41.03, so someone swam well for sure! I was able to see Mark O’Donohue’s split, and he was definitely one of them – with a standing start PR of 25.50, he split 24.66!
- Our Boys 400 “A” Free Relay of Brian Koehr, Paul Pechie, Mark O’Donohue and Tommy Flook finished in 20th place with a 3:43.03. That was more than a 5 second drop from their seed time of 3:48.19! Once again, the first two splits were messed up, but I do know that the average of Brian and Paul’s splits was :55.59. The average of their PRs is 56.19 – so they both must have swum very, very well! Mark O’Donohue once again blew his standing start PR (58.81) away in the relay with a split of 56.82 and Tommy split exactly a second faster than his PR with a 55.04! It was a great way for Tommy to end his swimming career at Seton.
- Our Boys 200 “A” Medley Relay of Matthew Fioramonti, Andrew Quinan, Tommy Flook and Brian Koehr took 23rd place Matt led off with a 30.10, very close to his PR, followed Andrew Quinan. Because of Patrick Pennefather’s high ankle sprain, Andrew stepped in at the last minute – and boy did he make the most of it. His best 50 Breaststroke split of the season was 33.85, but at States, he split 31.69! That compares very favorably to Patrick’s best of 31.56 when he was healthy, so Andrew really got the job done! Then Tommy jumped in for a 26.44, again very close to his PR and Brian rapped it up with a very fast 24.33.
- Our Girls 200 “B” Medley Relay of Bridget O’Malley, Vivian Zadnik, Meghan O’Malley and Michaela Pennefather swam well, particularly Meghan and Michaela. Bridget led off with a strong 34.66 followed by Vivian’s 36.02. Then Meghan hit the water and went a very fast 30.66 followed by Michaela’s anchor at 29.84. Michaela’s standing start 50 Free PR is 30.70 so she really came to play!
- Our Girls 400 “B” Free Relay of Bridget O’Malley, Meghan O’Malley, Cat Pechie and Emily Heim almost all beat their PRs, with Emily right on her PR just a few minutes after exiting the water from her great 100 Breaststroke swim. Bridget led off with a .62 second PR 1:03.53 followed by her sister Meghan who beat her standing start PR by .10 seconds with a 1:09.40. But it was Cat Pechie who really made the most of her last opportunity of the season. With Michaela Pennefather behind the block cheering her on, Cat split an amazing 1:07.61, a truly great time considering that her standing start PR is 1:09.10!
Awards are All That Remain
Mrs. Dalrymple is coordinating our Awards with Mrs. Pechie for Sunday, March 1st at Seton School starting at 6:30 p.m. Sorry that I have to start it so late, but I’ll be coming back from a funeral Mass in Naples, FL and it is the only time I can do it. I think Mrs. Dalrymple is planning a slide show and ice cream, but I’ll put out more details as plans develop.
It certainly has been another great season for Seton, even if it was different from some past years – I’m quite encouraged by our future here. I’ve written in past blogs of the great joy that comes from achieving things that you never thought possible by working hard, believing in yourself and taking a risk. I saw countless examples of that this season, and I’ll tell you true – you swimmers are not the only one who get great joy out of it.
I’ve also written about the power of being a team that has a commonality of purpose, that mutually supports one another, that identifies with each other’s struggles, and that encourages one another to do their best. I know you’ll be hearing more about that at the banquet where I hope to set up next year to be the best ever for Seton Swimming in this very important aspect.
Even though the season it over, we are still a team. I look forward to seeing you all support each other for the rest of the year outside the water the way our State Team supported each other this past weekend in the water.
Coach Jim Koehr