Eleven (11) new State Records in 24 events, “5-Peat” Champions, Swim Moms honored to lead the Procession of Finalists to the blocks, music blasting, kids singing and dancing – these were just a few of the highlights from the 2016 VISAA State Swim and Dive Championship hosted by Seton School and Woodberry Forest School at the beautiful Christiansburg Aquatic Center in Christiansburg, VA!
Last weekend (Feb 19-20, 2010), we took 24 swimmers into this incredibly fast meet, and swimming I saw from our team was beyond my expectations. Our kids always seem to excel on the big stage every year at States, but I was even more pleased with the way the team interacted and encouraged each other. Before the meet, I had no real expectation of earning any of the team awards, but we left with our girls just 2 points away from winning the Division II State Runner-up and with both our boys and girls being recognized by the other coaches with the Spirit Award!
It was an incredibly fun trip for our team. For the first time, we tried renting a house off of AirBnB so we had a place to gather between sessions for comradery and team meals. Thanks to the leadership of Mrs. Lowell and Mrs. Heim, we had wonderful team meals that didn’t require long waits for restaurants to serve drink and take orders. And thank you to Mr. Kenna and Lobster Maine-ia for supplying Lobsters and Scallops! I’m quite sure no other team was eating like we were at States this year!
Here’s an excerpt from the scoring of a very exciting meet – particularly on the girl’s side where the meet came down to a single 16th place relay (more on that below):
- Collegiate School 286
- St. Catherine’s School 250
- Hampton Roads Academy 174 – Division II Champ
- Bishop Ireton 115
- Highland School 42 – Division II Runner-up
- Seton School 40
- Trinity Christian School 38
- John Paul the Great 22
- Trinity Episcopal 303
- St. Christopher’s School 267
- Woodberry Forest 179
- Hampton Roads Academy 150 – Division II Champ
- Fredericksburg Christian 73.5 – Division II Runner-up
- Trinity Christian School 28
- John Paul the Great 19
Recall that our State Championship is scored like one big championship meet. The team with the highest point total is declared the “Overall” State Champion, and the Division II team with the most points is declared the “Division II” State Champion. For the 5th year in a row, Hampton Roads Academy took the Division II Championship. In the years just prior to this HRA streak, Seton won the girls four (4) years in a row and won the boys three (3) years in a row (plus 2006). Since then, our Girls have been runner-up twice.
As we headed down mid-last week, I was hoping for some great PR swims from our kids, but I wasn’t expecting to bring home much team hardware – but that changed for our girls after the first day’s competition. When our girls 200 Medley Relay took 11th place and Trinity Christian’s relay was disqualified, I saw an outside chance to take the State runner-up for Division II. Highland had 20 points, we had 12 points, and Trinity Christian had 6 points.
That night, our rally cry echoed the famous line from the bad comedy “Dumb and Dumber” where, in response to a girl telling one of the lead characters that he had a one in a million chance of taking her out, he said “So you’re telling me there’s a chance….YEAH!”
We knew that Anna Kenna still had both of her individual events to swim, that our 200 Free Relay was likely to score and that we had an outside chance of scoring some points in 100 Breaststroke with Claire Kenna and Emily Heim. On the other side of the coin, we knew that Trinity Christian still had two scoring relays, but that their top female swimmer only had one individual event left. We also knew that we were going to have to score a total of at least 40 points to counteract the 40 points that Reni Moshos of Highland School would score all by herself over the course of the two nights.
The stage was set, and all played out better than we could have hoped – except for one thing. The performance of our girls on Saturday night, particularly Anna Kenna, held off Trinity Christian by 2 points, and Reni got her 40 points with two State record swims – but Highland’s 200 Free Relay also snuck into 16th place and scored two more points. Those two points made all of the difference! Even with top swimmers, swimming truly is a team sport.
Even though Reni Moshos swam for Highland, over her 5 year swimming career, many of us at Seton have developed a special bond with her and her family. Reni even selected Bryanna Farmer and Kimberly Rector for the honor of carrying the sign to lead the Procession of Finalists to the blocks for her State record setting 100 Backstroke final. If we had to lose to someone, the Moshos family and the other great swim families from Highland School were good people to take the trophy from us. Next year, Reni will join former Seton Lacrosse star Joe Kenna as a varsity athlete representing the University of North Carolina
This meet was incredibly fast, and only the top 16 finishers in each event even score points! Our Boys swam the best they’ve swum all season (details below), and that was good enough for some strong relay finishes in 17th, 19th and 20th but not quite good enough to get into the scoring.
Anna Kenna Comes Back Twice!
Anna Kenna always has been a big meet swimmer, and once again, she showed it to all us. After a season of balancing swimming with Varsity Basketball, Irish Dance and her rigorouse Seton studies, it was truly amazing to watch her race last weekend.
In 100 Free, Anna won the consolation finals to take 9th place overall, scoring 9 points. During this season, the fastest Anna had ever gone was 56.27 which had her seeded just outside the top 16. Then, during prelims, she went out incredibly fast and swam a 53.90 – a lifetime best by .48 seconds! Knowing that last year, a time that fast would have placed 4th in the Finals, we were surprised to see that, this year, it only earned the top seed in the Consolation Finals (Note: top 8 are Championship Finals and the next 8 or Consolation Finals with all 16 places scoring). It was very difficult to be too disappointed though – 53.90 is the 2nd fastest 100 Freestyle in the history of our team!
Later that same day, Anna popped another great swim in 100 Backstroke where she ultimately took 7th place to score a very important 12 points. Like freestyle, her multi-sport balancing act left her with a top time during the season of 1:01.38. In Prelims, we decided that her best approach would be to take it out very fast and try to hold on for a strong 3rd wall – and that is just what she did. I knew she was having a great swim when I saw her 50 split display at 28.06! With less than 7,000 yards per week of training, Anna came back in 30.47 to swim a lifetime best 58.53! That earned her the 4th seed for the Championship Finals. In the finals, the competition really heated up, but Anna gave it all she had going out in an incredible 27.94. She ended up with a 58.98, a 7th place medal and a huge smile.
Other Swimmers Who Made it Back to Finals
Every year, this meet gets faster, so it is no small feat to qualify top 16 during Prelims, but we had one other individual girl plus two relays pull off scoring swims for us.
- Claire Kenna had the best 100 Breaststroke of her life during Saturday morning Prelims, and that is exactly what was required for her to sneak into 16th place for the Prelims. Her .30 second PR 1:12.23 was really fun to watch. At finals, she stayed at 16th in a very fast heat and scored 1 crucial point for Seton.
- Our Girls 200 Medley Relay of Anna Kenna, Emily Heim, Kimberly Rector and Claire Kenna dropped nearly 1.5 seconds from their PR to take 11th place and score 12 points. Anna’s 27.33 lead-off was just off her own team record, Emily’s 32.45 equaled her season best, Kimberly’s 29.53 was an act of courage with her injured wrist and Claire’s 25.74 was her fastest of the season. I have to highlight here the courage I witnessed in Kimberly Rector’s53 split. She was in some pretty good pain as a result of a skiing accident a couple of weeks ago, but she swam through the pain and was very near her PR split. Had she not shown that courage, we really would not have had the shot at State Runner-up that we had.
- Our Girls 200 Free Relay of Anna Kenna, Bridget O’Malley, Emily Heim and Claire Kenna took 14th place to score 6 points after dropping their season PR by almost 2.5 seconds. Anna crushed her 50 Free PR by .57 seconds with her lead-off 25.00, Bridget O’Malley split an unbelievable 27.20 (her PR set the day before was 28.43), Emily Heim split a lifetime best 27.75 and Claire rocked the anchor as usual 25.27.
There Were So Many Other Great Swims
Most of our team was in Christiansburg to swim in Relays, but we did have three (3) other individual qualifiers who competed for points:
- David Flook is only in 8th grade, but he got his first taste of individual State competition taking 47th place in 100 Backstroke with a .18 second PR swim of 1:03.83
- Matthew Fioramonti (SR) took 49th with a 1:04.26. To put the high level of competition in this event into perspective, the 31st place time was 59.91!
- Emily Heim (SR) had one of her best swims of the season, and in a very fast event, she placed 21st with a 1:14.03. Her “quick hands” became a model that I used for many other members of the team, including Claire Kenna.
- Vivian Zadnik (SR) swam a .43 second PR to finish 29th in 100 Breaststroke. It was a great way to end her swimming career.
We had some really tremendous splits during our many relays last weekend. With many of these swimmers coming back next season, it is getting me sort of excited for the possibilities:
- Our Boys 200 Free “A” Relay of Andrew Quinan, Grant Mantooth, Brian Koehr and Matthew Fioramonti just missed the top 16 when they placed 17th in prelims after a nearly 3 second PR. Andrew led off with a blazing .27 PR 23.93 followed by Grant’s 24.71, Brian’s 25.25 and Matt’s 24.46. They entered the meet seeded 23rd and almost made it back!
- Our Girls 200 Medley “B” Relay of Caroline Griffin, Vivian Zadnik, Meghan O’Malley and Bridget O’Malley was very well, particularly Caroline’s .13 second PR lead-off split and Bridget’s 27.31 anchor split
- Our Boys 200 Medley “A” Relay of Matthew Fioramonti, Martin Quinan, Will Arnold and Andrew Quinan definitely over achieved taking 20th place with nearly a 2 second PR time. Everyone swam well, particularly the Quinan brothers who split 30.12 in Breast (Martin) and 23.49 in Free (Andrew) and Will Arnold whose 26.59 split was even called out by the announcers broadcasting the meet for WFSPN.
- Our Boys 200 Medley “B” Relay of David Flook, Seamus Koehr, Kevin Geiran and Brian Koehr had a PR swim, mostly on the strength of great splits by Seamus Koehr (32.47 for BR) and Kevin Geiran (28.68 for FL).
- Our Girls 200 Free “B” Relay of Kimberly Rector, Reilly Cuccinelli, Meghan O’Malley and Mary Heim shined, particularly Reilly’s 27.99 split and Mary’s amazing 27.74 split! Mary will almost certainly be on our “A” Relays next year with a split like that.
- Our Boys 200 Free “B” Relay rolled in with a nearly 2 second PR swim. Will Arnold, Kevin Geiran, Tim Costello and Josh Miller all swam lifetime best splits of 24.81, 24.96, 25.74 and 24.77, respectively. There were lots of smiles when I saw them all after their heat!
- Our Girls 400 Free “A” Relay of Meghan O’Malley, Julia Rowzie, Bridget O’Malley and Reilly Cuccinelli took 20th place with an almost unbelievable 6 second PR. Meghan led-off with a near PR 1:06.65 and then Julia split 1:03.23 Bridget split 1:02.35 and Reilly split 1:01.23!
- Our Girls 400 Free “B” Relay of Caroline Griffin, Ashley Cackett, Bryanna Farmer and Vivian Zadnik also had a huge PR swim – but they dropped nearly 7.5 seconds! Caroline led off with a 1.57 second PR 1:06.19 followed by Ashley’s 1:08.21, Bryanna’s 1:07.20 and Vivian’s 1:05.20. All of those splits were lifetime bests.
- Our Boys 400 Free “A” Relay of Andrew Quinan, Brian Koehr, Will Arnold and Matthew Fioramonti wrapped up the Saturday prelims with a 19th place PR swim that featured some amazing splits. Andrew somehow dropped 1.26 seconds from his 100 Free PR to lead off with a 53.61! Will and Matt also had nearly unbelievable splits with their 55.71 and 54.97 respectively. It was a great way for these four (4) seniors to finish their Seton Swimming careers!
One unique feature to the meet this year was the ability for kids who had otherwise qualified for the meet to get an extra swim in the Bonus 50 Free event. We had eleven (11) qualify to take advantage of that opportunity and 7 of them hit big PRs:
- Bridget O’Malley (10) cut .73 seconds and cemented her spot on the 200 Free “A” Relay with her lifetime best 28.43.
- Will Arnold (12) crushed his PR by .60 seconds and went 25.20. It was a great way to end his Seton Swimming career for sure.
- Reilly Cuccinelli (JR) went 28.06 dropping .46 seconds and virtually securing her spot on some of our “A” Relays next season.
- Julia Rowzie (SO) cut .45 seconds from her PR to go 28.97.
- Mary Heim (FR) lowered her PR by .28 seconds after going 29.00
- Kevin Geiran (SO) cut yet another .27 seconds and went 25.56. That’s a pretty big drop from 28-high at the beginning of the season!
- Tim Costello (SR) somehow managed to lower his PR by .10 seconds after missing the horn and starting late. There’s no telling how much faster his time could have been, but a 25.89 was a great time for him anyway.
Awards are All That Remain
Mrs. Pechie is coordinating our Awards for Sunday, March 6th at Seton School starting at 2:00 p.m. I’m traveling a lot this week and next (I’m writing this blog from a sales meeting in Tampa, FL – don’t worry, the Saddlebrook Resort is not too painful for me ;-)) so I’m not exactly sure what is planned , but I think it will involve ice cream. 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.
At the end of last season, I also spent a lot of time writing about the power of being a team that has a commonality of purpose, which mutually supports one another, that identifies with each other’s struggles, and that encourages one another to do their best. I feel particularly good about the fact that we were able to tap into that power this year.
So 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