I think I might like the occasional smaller meet.
On Saturday, we held our annual home opener, the Seton Icebreaker Invitational. It was relaxed and intimate, giving our large number of new swimmers a chance to break into the regular season while swimming two (2) events that they haven’t previously swum this season. We’ll continue that next week when the whole team swims, to the greatest extent possible, another two (2) events that they have not swum previously this year.
The Icebreaker Invitational also fit well into the cadence of our season. At St. Catherine’s we concentrated on freestyle, yesterday we concentrated on backstroke, and at the Homecoming Invitational next week we’ll be concentrating on breaststroke.
In spite of the fact that we lined up our entries with an emphasis on personal swimmer development rather than team scoring, the team scores still turned out quite favorably for us. We faced three DAC teams, including our friendly rival Trinity Christian, who was missing one of their top swimmers, and won both the boys and girls handily.
We also invited a personal favorite of mine, Woodberry Forest. They are a perennial Division I Boys power who swam like it. Their coach, long-time VISAA President Greg Guldin, has left such a lasting impression on VISAA Swimming that I will always be grateful to be associated with him.
Here’s how the scores turned out:
Seton Swimming 166 Trinity Christian 114
Seton Swimming 205 Fresta Valley Christian 65
Seton Swimming 207 Wakefield School 42
Seton Swimming 221 Woodberry Forest 10
Woodberry Forest 208.5 Seton Swimming 76.5
Seton Swimming 184 Trinity Christian 91
Seton Swimming 200 Wakefield School 43
Seton Swimming 213 Fresta Valley Christian 23
The Spirit of Seton Swimming
I was thanking one of the officials from another team after the meet, and he told me, “I always like to come to Seton meets. I like the spirit of your team.”
Earlier in the meet, I was thinking the same thing as I watched Haley Fifield, Evan Wilson, Teresa Bingham, and Lauren Curley swim. There are so many examples of swimmers at Seton who live our GEMS and joyfully work to help all those around them get better, but these four (4) swimmers all made me smile:
- Haley Fifield (7) had the meet of her life yesterday, and it showed in her big smile after each time she swam. We have 17 seventh graders and 35 total middle schoolers on the team this season. That is bigger than most teams in the State. Haley is pretty much representative of what I see from most of them. I don’t know if Haley has much previous swimming experience, but her level of improvement already this year has been nothing short of astounding. On Saturday, she cut 30.51 seconds from her 200 Free PR and 10.30 seconds from her 100 Back PR! With Haley and her 35 fellow middle-schoolers on this team, I have no doubt that the Spirit of Seton Swimming is going to translate into a lot of victories in the years to come.
- Evan Wilson (JR) has a focus I did not see from him last season, and the results are showing. It’s clear to me that he’s made the connection in his mind between hard work and success. Breaking 2:30 for the first time in 200 IM with a 2.57 second PR is just the latest example. His strokes look so much better this year, particularly his backstroke. I’ve always noticed that the things that bring me the greatest joy in life are the things for which I have worked the hardest. I’m expecting Evan to find a lot of joy in swimming this season.
- Teresa Bingham (SO) always puts the “G” in GEMS for me. Her smile is never ending, and it is that joy that she brings to the pool that I believe is most responsible for the success she’s seeing in the water. Teresa has already become a very fine swimmer, so it was really surprising to see someone at her level continue to improve so much. I just loved watching her drop 14.26 seconds in the 500 Free, nearly breaking 7:00. It was also fun to watch her drop 9.39 seconds in 200 Free to drop below 2:30 for the first time. Her quiet leadership by example has moved the needle for our team by setting an example of how to compete with meekness and joy.
- Lauren Curley (SR) has already brought me great joy this season – just by being on the team with us. Every practice morning, I walk into my kitchen where I find her sitting with a big smile on her face after she’s been dropped off from her house way out in Culpeper County. She’s never swum competitively before, nor has she even spent much time in the water in her life, but that hasn’t stopped her from coming out to get the most out of what she has. On Saturday, she had a big PR in 50 Free where she broke 1:00 for the first time in her life. And I was so happy watching her swim 100 Backstroke. She was rolling with each stroke and getting her shoulders completely out of the water. Even if it wasn’t as fast as many of our other swimmers, it was beautiful to watch. Thank you, Lauren, for the joy you’ve brought to coaching for me this season.
Great Performances on Saturday
Every meet, so many things happen that I may not even notice, but here are some of the things that happened that could not possibly escape my attention:
- Mairead Geiran (JR) was the certainly the class of the meet, particularly with her swim in the 200 Free where she won by nearly 18 seconds. Here time also beat the State cut by more than 10 seconds. Mairead is a very versatile swimmer, but her weakest stroke is backstroke. I say “weakest” as if a 1:07.84 (after a 1.21 second PR) is not a good time. 😉
- Caroline Griffin (SR), in her first meet of the season, has already established herself as one of the DAC’s top swimmers. She won the 200 IM in commanding fashion, hitting the qualifying time for National Catholics in the process. She also led off our 200 Medley Relay, giving us more than a 3 second lead in the process. The season is just beginning for Caroline, and it is going to be fun to see where it goes.
- Shane Koehr (SR) is having a breakout season in his senior year. His versatility is quite promising as demonstrated by more big drops this week in the 200 Free and 100 Breast. In 200 Free, he cut a whopping 11.14 seconds to go 2:09.99. That time beat everyone from the teams not called Woodberry Forest, including a top Trinity Christian swimmer who Shane overtook in the last 30 yards. Shane also cut 3.90 seconds in 100 Breaststroke to go a fast 1:13.51. It’s great to know that I can put Shane in nearly any event and expect him to perform at a high level.
- Drew Dalrymple (SR) may have already cemented himself as our team’s top sprinter. His 24.41 flat start this past week (a .22 second PR) and his 24.36 relay split last week are both the fastest times on the team.
- Nathan Luevano (FR) continues to impress with his ability to swim multiple different events. After a huge 2.16 second PR in 100 Breaststroke, Nathan swam the fastest time on the team so far this year. That swim was the fastest swim in the meet for a swimmer from a DAC team.
- Maggie Gibbons (8) needs a coach who can plan a little better. Her coach put her in the 500 Free, which was immediately followed by the 200 Free Relay, which was followed soon thereafter by 100 Breaststroke. In spite of that poor planning, Maggie swam a great time in her first-ever attempt at the 500 followed by a 2.45 second PR in 50 Free leading off the 200 Free relay followed by a 3.66 second PR in 100 Breaststroke. After those races, I spoke with a breathless Maggie, lower lip quivering a bit while she tried to smile and recover her breath. It was quite a performance for the young 8th
- Joe Wilson (FR) took his first crack at both 100 Fly and 500 Free, and had really great swims in both. In 100 Fly, Joe went 1:06.87, the third fastest PR on the team, and in 500 Free, Joe went a very fast 6:26.01. Those are very strong times for a freshman. I can’t wait to work on Joe’s Fly this coming week in practice.
- Isabelle Luevano (SO) had two wonderful swims in the 200 and 500 Free events, dropping 4.45 seconds and 18.52 seconds, respectively. Those swims were both good for 3rd In both races, her big drops got her within a second behind two different Trinity Christian School swimmers, so I’m looking forward to seeing her overtake them with her continued improvement by January 4th. Isabelle has become one of our stars as only a sophomore, so I know there are a lot of points in her future swimming for Seton.
- Christian Ceol (SR) may have found a place to score in the top 8 at DAC Champs, the 500 Free. With his improved “long and strong” stroke, he cut 14.45 seconds from his PR to go 6:34.48. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Christian was also able to lower his 50 Free PR by 1.4 seconds to 25.36. Christian now has the 6th fastest flat start 50 Free time on the team.
- Mary Clare Waldron (SO) was all smiles on Saturday after a massive 7.39 second drop in 50 Back leading off a medley relay, a 3.39 second drop in 100 Breast, and a 1.90 second drop in 50 Free. I know Clare has been trying really hard in practice, so I was very excited to see her get such great results.
- David Hudson (8) continues to look strong in the water, particularly with this week’s swim in the 200 Free where he dropped 17.57 seconds. David also went 1:14.91 in 100 Back after cutting another .33 seconds. We have a very strong group of middle school swimmers, and David has a chance to be a leader among this group if he chooses to be.
- Ava Hudson (8) took 4th and 5th in 100 Back and 100 Fly after PRs of 4.66 seconds and .36 seconds respectively. I’m very encouraged by the points that Ava is able to score for Seton as only an 8th
- Sophia Zadnik (SO) very quietly had a tremendous swim in 100 Fly, dropping 3.51 seconds to take 4th I was so pleased to see this swim because of the number of post season points available in this unpopular event. We’ll be working on Butterfly this coming week in practice. She had an even bigger drop in 100 Back with an 8.42 second PR.
So Many Big PRs!
We had another haul of PRs in Saturday, this time a total of 73! Here are the PRs that I have not previously mentioned:
- Peter Konstanty (8) broke through the 3:00 barrier in 200 IM with a big 13.81 second PR, and he broke through the 1:30 barrier in 100 Back with a big 2.12 second PR. The kid can really rock!
- Jack Champney (8) was super in 100 Back and 100 Free, cutting his PRs by 8.20 seconds and 2.72 seconds, respectively.
- Orla Haggerty (7) may be little, but she’s sure swimming big. Her 6.29 second PR in 100 Free came within just .11 seconds of breaking the 1:30 barrier, and her .40 second PR in 50 Back leading off a medley actually did break the :40 second barrier.
- Lucy Cunningham (7) sure did look good in that 100 Back. She cut 3.16 seconds from her PR. She also cut 2.36 seconds from her 100 Free PR. Her times are starting to get pretty competitive for the DAC, so I’m expecting to see her scoring a lot of points for Seton in the next year or two.
- Joseph Dwane (8) is quietly showing amazing levels of improvement. His work with Coach Zadnik really paid off on Saturday with his massive 36.49 second PR in 100 Back. Great swim, Joseph!
- Max Wilson (7) had a pair of very fast swims after he cut 2.59 seconds in 100 Back and another .38 seconds in 50 Free.
- Rose Waldron (7) had a huge drop in 100 Back, cutting 6.07 seconds from her previous best time. Rose also cut another .67 seconds from her 50 Free PR.
- Lucy Pennefather (7) looked great in 100 Back, and it showed in her time. She dropped 1.70 seconds.
- Shannon O’Malley (7) had two PRs: a big 1.51 second PR in 100 Back and another .34 second PR in 100 Free.
- Mary O’Malley (SO) was awesome in 100 Backstroke, dropping a whopping 6.09 seconds. I’ll be anxious to see what she can do in 100 Fly. 😉
- Michael McGrath (8) was great in 100 Free, beating his previous best time by 6.91 seconds.
- John McGrath (JR) is really improving during his first year on the Seton team as a Junior. His 3.29 second PR in 100 Free has John within .29 seconds of breaking the 1:00 barrier in the event.
- Anne Konstanty (SR) went outside the box to sprint the 50 Free and showed her versatility with a .47 second PR. Anne also showed continued improvement in 100 Breast with a .68 second PR.
- Jeremy Kleb’s (SR) work in practice paid off with his 2.83 second PR in 100 Breaststroke. He also had a great swim in the 510-yard freestyle. 😉
- Mary Catherine Hurley (7) looks really strong with her 2.53 second PR in 100 Free and her 1.36 second PR in 100 Back.
- Virginia Hartung (JR) made me smile with her .78 second improvement in 50 Free and her 2.44 second improvement in 100 Back.
- Peter Hartung (7) dropped an amazing 7.52 seconds in 100 Free.
- Amelia Geary (8) had a great swim in 50 Free, beating her previous best time by 2.86 seconds.
- Mick Fioramonti (8) was pushing himself hard in 100 Back, and the result was a .72 second PR.
- Justin Fioramonti (SR) looked great in the 50 Free where he cut .81 seconds from his PR to go 26.34. Justin also had a good swim in 100 Back, cutting 1.62 seconds from his PR.
- Elizabeth Dwane (SO) had a wonderful swim in the 100 Free, lowering her PR by 1.47 seconds.
- Joey Dealey (FR) crushed the :30 second barrier in 50 Free after his .70 second PR. We now have 16 boys on the team that can break :30 in 50 Free.
- Emma Catabui (SO) blew past the :40 second barrier in 50 Free with a big .93 second PR on Saturday.
- Lily Byers (SO) pleased me greatly with her swims in the 200 IM and 100 Back. In 100 Back, she cut 3.62 seconds from her previous best to go 1:20.46. That time should get her into scoring position at DAC Champs. Her .35 second PR in 200 IM should also get her into the top 12 at DAC Champs.
- Michael Brox (7) had a great swim in 100 Back, lowering his PR by 1.68 seconds.
- Elodie Brox (7) looked very good in 100 Free, beating her previous best time by .86 seconds.
- Meg Blanchette (7) showed a lot of improvement in 100 Back after she lowered her PR by 2.95 seconds.
- Ryan Beltran (8) almost broke the :30 barrier in 50 Free after a 2.22 second PR.
- Julia Atkinson (8) looked great swimming 100 Back, and the result was a 2.20 second PR.
- Chris Arnold (7) was awesome in his 100 Back, beating his previous best time by 3.32 seconds.
- Jacob Alsup (SR) continues to drop in his 50 Free, this time by another .04 seconds. His 24.85 is now the 3rd fastest flat start time on the team behind the Dalrymple brothers. Jacob also had a PR swim in 100 Breaststroke, cutting .56 seconds.
- Jed Albin (8) looked awfully good in 100 Free, cutting a huge 5.73 seconds from his previous best.
Great First-Time Swims
One great thing about a smaller and less competitive meet is that I have an opportunity to let some kids try events that they either haven’t swum for a long time or have never swum. Whenever I do that, I almost always get some pleasant surprises:
- JJ Brox (FR) may have just found his way onto the post-season roster with two great swims in the 200 IM and 500 Free. After watching him in practice, I suspected that he might be capable of scoring for us in these events, and his performance on Saturday proved me right.
- Joey Arnold (SR) is back, and he had great first attempts at both the 200 IM and 100 Fly. This coming week, we’ll be working on Butterfly technique. I see a lot of potential for Joey to shine with that stroke.
- Connor Koehr (7) attempted the 200 IM for the first time and nearly broke the 3:00 barrier. His 3:06.30 is a very good time for a 7th He’ll swim for Seton officially next season and join a very strong group of middle school boys.
Opportunities for Improvement
Overall, I continue to be pleased with how we are performing at our meets, but I still see too many things that are causing me a little frustration:
- Swim Caps During Warm-up
- I talked about this last week too, but somehow, we had a number of people who didn’t seem to understand how serious I am about this.
- Our Swim Cap is an important part of our uniform. Everyone should be wearing a swim cap during warm-up and during each of their competitive swims.
- To be clear, you are not disqualified from the meet if you do not have a Seton cap on.
- But you are going to upset me greatly.
- Everyone was issued a free swim cap, so there is no excuse to not have one
- I’ve asked Mrs. Lynch to be at every meet with some extra swim caps
- If you don’t have a cap, bring Mrs. Lynch a $5 bill and she’ll make sure you have one.
- Backstroke Turns
- Judging by the number of DQs we had for people rolling over on their stomachs during backstroke (“past vertical toward the breast” as the rule states), it looks like we are going to have to work on backstroke turns some more
- At the root of the problem is people not doing flip turns.
- If you do a flip turn EVERY time, you are allowed to roll over on your stomach and take one arm pull going into the turn.
- If you don’t do a flip turn, you can’t roll over.
- You also have to finish the race on your back, as I know we practiced last week.
- Missed Events
- It happened again this week – someone missed an event
- Another way to upset me is to miss an event.
- Everyone should show up to the meet already aware of what they are swimming – I post it on the web site in advance.
- If you have a question, as a Manager or a Captain.
- It happened again this week – someone missed an event
Our Annual Homecoming Meet
Next Saturday is our annual Homecoming Meet at the Freedom Center. 1st warm-up starts at 1:00 p.m. and the first event goes off at 2:08 p.m.
As we have in the past, we’ll be running some alumni relays along with our own scoring relays. I know a bunch of adult Koehr boys will be there, and I’ve also heard that Ben Ceol is coming.
If you know of other alumni, please make sure they know they are welcome. If they show up with a suit and goggles, I’ll try to get them in a relay.
Thank You Coach Rich Lowell
I don’t think we will see Coach Lowell at the Homecoming Meet, but I am grateful that he was able to come back last week to guest coach while I, and so many of the other coaches, were attending to other obligations.
Coach Lowell coached Seton Swimming from 2008 to 2018, during a run that included seven (7) State Championships. We still use his practice plans today.
Thanks for coming back to help, Coach Lowell! I’m just sorry I wasn’t able to share the deck with you when you did.
Christmas Break Practices
Traditionally, every Christmas Break, we have practices at the Freedom Center for the Varsity swimmers who will be competing in the key Conference and Championship meets starting in January.
There will not be a clear delineation of who is and who is not on the Varsity team, so for the purposes of Christmas practices, if you are entered as a scoring swimmer in one of the December meets, then I expect that you will attend as many of the Christmas practices as possible.
I’m still finalizing the schedule (I’ve both e-mailed and called our contact multiple times now) with the Freedom Center, but I am anticipating practices from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on:
- Monday, December 23rd
- Thursday, December 26th
- Monday, December 30th
- Thursday, January 2nd
If you are in town, please plan on being at practice. I’m sure that Trinity Christian will be working hard.
Cystic Fibrosis Swim-a-Thon
If you look under Meet Information, you will see some details on our annual New Year’s Eve Cystic Fibrosis Swim-a-thon, including how to set up your fundraising page and which fundraising team you are on.
- By now, your team captain should have contacted you. If they haven’t, contact them.
- Everyone who is in town should plan to swim, but even if you are out of town on New Year’s Eve, you can help us raise money.
- The Given’s have made it really easy:
- Find the instruction page under Meet Information
- Click on the link to set up your fundraising page
- Send a few e-mails to family and friends asking for a modest sponsorship
- If everyone does a little, we should be able to break $10,000 this year.
- The Given’s have made it really easy:
We’re off to a great start this season – great job! One more December meet next Saturday. Expect to swim something different in that meet.
See you at practice,
Coach Jim Koehr