Each year we kick off our season with a Time Trial Meet at the Fitch Warrenton Aquatic and Recreation Facility (WARF) with a few goals in mind:

  • Ensure that we have good baseline times on every swimmer against which we can measure improvement and with which we can prepare our meet and relay entries
  • Ensure that everyone clearly understands how Seton Swimming operates at a Meet, particularly arriving on time, warming up efficiently, showing great respect for the national anthem, getting behind the blocks in time for your events without assistance, and starting a race with the whistle rather than voice commands.
  • Gather data with which to make updates to practice lane and coaching assignments for each swimmer.
  • Ensure that we have all the parent volunteers and supplies that we need to run our meets

If those were the goals for our Time Trial meet on Friday, November 12th, then I would have to say that we were highly successful.  Not only did we accomplish those goals, but several swimmers made their presence known, especially several swimmers who are new to the team.  Watching the swimmers on Friday gave me a lot of faith in the future of Seton Swimming.

As I looked back my 2019 Time Trials Blog to copy the format, I noticed a couple interesting things:

  • Back then, the make-up of our team was rapidly evolving, and that evolution continues. In 2019, we had 81 kids on the team, including 35 middle schoolers.  Today, we have 128 kids (including Managers) on the team, and 43 of them are below 9th grade.  Once again, our Captains did an amazing job of recruiting.  The future of Seton Swimming is very bright!
  • This time two-years ago, my family was celebrating a final weekend with former Seton Swim Captain Brendan Koehr who was deploying with his F-18 squadron on the USS Harry S. Truman. Next week, LT Brendan “Big Country” Koehr is deploying once again on the Truman to the Middle East, this time with the Red Rippers (VFA-11).  Colleen and I are very proud of Brendan’s service to our country.  Please pray for his safe return.


I apologize for the delay in my blog this week, but we had a great day and evening at the Koehr house on Saturday.  During the day, we attended a Duca family wedding, and in the evening, we held a Marine Corps Ball at my house.  It was a wonderful evening hosted by my son-in-law and Seton graduate Major Paul Mooney.

It was particularly exciting for me personally to have Lieutenant General Dan O’Donohue and his wife Rani as the guests of honor.  The O’Donohues are former Seton Swimming parents who you could see regularly timing at our meets in years past when the General was not deployed.

246 years ago, November 9th, 1775, the Second Continental Congress decided to send an amphibious expedition to Halifax in Nova Scotia to destroy an important British naval base.  On November 10th, now remembered as the birthday of the Corps, Congress directed its Naval Committee to raise two Marine Battalions.

100 years ago, in 1921, the 13th Commandant of the Corps, General John A. Lejeune, issued Marine Corps Order No. 42 directing all future Marines to not only honor the Corps’ birthday, but to celebrate it.  I was very proud to have Major Mooney follow this 100-year-old directive that is so important to the culture of the Corps, even as the current Commandant succumbed to political expediency and cancelled his Ball.

We are fortunate to have a successor to the first commissioned officer, Major Samuel Nichols, on our coaching staff today – Major Patrick Heiny.  We were also fortunate to have Seton parents LtCol Matthew Schroer and his wife Krista in attendance with the rest of Major Mooney’s detachment.  Thank you, Major Heiny and LtCol Schroer, for the sacrifices you and your family make for our country.


A Coming Out Party for Some New Swimmers

One thing that invariably happens at Time Trials is that several new swimmers make their presence known with outstanding early season performances.  This year was no different:

  • Ariana Aldeguer (7) turned heads every time she hit the water on Friday night. Even at such a young age, her underwaters are already superior and her strokes are long and sleek – even if she is not very long yet herself 😉  How about a 59.07 in 100 Free for a 7th grader?!  Or her 1:05.10 in Backstroke, 1:18.38 in 100 Breaststroke, 30.13 in 50 Fly, 28.37 in 50 Free, and 2:09.65 in 200 Free?
    • To put those times in perspective, Anna Kenna graduated from Seton as an All-America in 100 Backstroke and is currently our team record holder in 50 Free, 100 Free, 100 Back, and 100 Fly. At Time Trials during her 7th grade year, Anna went 1:04.75 in 100 Free, 1:11.26 in 100 Back, 1:29.09 in 100 Breast, 32.31 in 50 Fly, and 29.49 in 50 Free.
    • When Ariana can score next season, it is going to be a lot of fun to team her up with Angie Testani, Clara Condon, Mary and Lucy Pennefather, Maggie Gibbons, Elodie Brox, Jacqueline Oswald, Kateri Mantooth, Shannon O’Malley, Anastasia Garvey, Haley Fifield, Lucy Cunningham, and so many others for several more State Championship runs.
  • Drew Nguyen (FR) made a splash in her first appearance as a Seton Swimmer on Friday night. His 1:01.90 in 100 Free and 1:19.69 in 100 Breaststroke were particularly impressive.  Drew also had a .68 second PR in 50 Free to break :30 for the first time.
  • William Sokban (FR) also showed himself to be a great addition to an already powerful stable of male swimmers in the Freshman class. I was particularly impressed with his 1:15.17 in 100 Back and 1:04.41 in 100 Free.
  • Michael McGrath (SO) is back after a one-year hiatus, and he is already showing that he can contribute the scoring for Seton this year. I really liked that 1:03.86 in 100 Free.
  • Gus Kohlhaas (FR) showed me a lot of potential with some very strong swims across multiple strokes. I can’t wait to help him improve his stroke technique and then watch him go!

Returning Swimmers Who Looked Strong

Normally I would have every swimmer swim every event at Time Trials, but with the exceptionally large number of swimmers on the team this, I had to cut scope a bit.  That didn’t mean that some of our experienced swimmers didn’t get a chance to shine in 50 Fly and 50 Free though.

Here are some of our returning swimmers who showed serious scoring potential for Seton on Friday night:

  • For the Girls:
  • Clara Condon (FR) took the opportunity experiment with her underwater body dolphin in 100 Back and the results were tremendous – a 7.36 second PR. She also cut her flat start 50 Fly PR by 1.19 seconds (to a blazing 28.40) and her flat start 50 Free PR by .24.   Clara has been eyeing Anna Kenna’s 100 Fly team record of 58.51.  She knows that the difference between that and her current PR of 1:03.85 is going to be made up underwater.
  • Isabelle Luevano (SR) matched her 50 Fly PR exactly which is as excellent sign given that she’s only been to 4 or 5 practices.
  • Lucy Pennefather (FR) is coming off a tennis season where she earned 2nd Team All-Conference honors and didn’t miss a beat once she hit the water. I was very pleased to see her 6.26 second PR in 50 Fly and her 2.03 second PR in 50 Free.
  • Elodie Brox (FR) rocked on Friday night with a 10.44 second PR in 50 Fly and a 1.97 second PR in 50 Free. I like the straight-arm freestyle technique she tried during her race.
  • Kateri Mantooth (JR) had a big drop in 50 Fly, lowering her PR by 2.27 seconds.
  • Mary Pennefather (JR), Maggie Gibbons (SO), Teresa Bingham (SR), Emily Flynn (SR), Lily Byers (SR), Jacqueline Oswald (JR), and Haley Fifield (FR) all looked good in their first competitive swims for the season. I know there are many PRs coming for all of them this season.
  • For the Boys:
  • Nathan Luevano (JR) is going to be a prolific scorer for the boys this season, and he demonstrated that with his 27.81 in 50 Fly (a 3.72 second PR) and his 24.78 in 50 Free (a .44 second PR)
  • David Hudson (SO) was a beast in the water. I really enjoyed watching his 3.62 second PR in 50 Fly (27.89) and his .26 second PR in 50 Free (26.14).
  • JJ Brox (JR) went very fast in 50 Free with a .71 second PR (26.80) and in 50 Fly with a 5.33 second PR (30.80)
  • Max Wilson (FR) is going to be a strong member of our powerful freshman class of male swimmers. His 1.80 second PR in 50 Fly and his .37 second PR in 50 Free helped to ensure that.
  • Michael Brox (FR) is another up-and-coming Freshman. He went 27.60 in 50 Free (2.18 second PR) and 31.96 in 50 Fly (12.77 second PR), two times that are pretty fast for a a swimmer his age.  I wish I would have let him swim the other events against Drew and William because I bet they would have been huge PRs also.
  • Connor Koehr (FR) is yet another Freshman I’m looking forwarding to watching. How about that 7.87 second PR in 50 Fly and that .49 second PR in 50 Free?!
  • Josh Fioramonti (8) swam a quick .07 second PR in 50 Free and a 2.18 second PR in 50 Fly.
  • Ryan Beltran (SO) cut 7.94 seconds in 50 Fly and .61 seconds in 50 Free.
  • Chris Lynch (SO) had a great swim in 50 Fly lowering his PR by 4.50 seconds and another great swim in 50 Free cutting .09 seconds.
  • Joey Dealey (JR) and Peter Konstanty (SO) also looked strong in both 50 Free and 50 Fly. I expect both of them to be important contributors to Seton’s scoring this season.

Can Our Girls Get the Medley Relay Record This Season?

In 2011, our Girls 200 Medley Relay took the Silver medal at States by .19 seconds, even though they had broken the previous State record.  Their time of 1:50.25 still stands as our team record today.

Their splits were very fast:

  • Backstroke, Alex Doonis, 28.46
  • Breaststroke, Cat Rogers, 30.66
  • Butterfly, Bridget Wunderly, 26.83
  • Freestyle, Lauren “the Machine” Donohoe, 23.99

But we have four (4) girls this year that I think have a chance to break that record.  It is definitely a stretch goal, but Clara Condon’s 1.19 second PR in 50 Fly at Time Trials has me convinced that it is possible.

Our current medley relay has a PR of 1:53.55.  Here are our girl’s best splits so far:

  • Backstroke, Lucy Garvey (SR), 29.38
  • Breaststroke, Angie Testani (FR), 30.55
  • Butterfly, Clara Condon (FR), 28.30
  • Freestyle, Mary Pennefather (JR), 25.32

And yes, I noticed that three (3) of the four (4) of them will be back next season and beyond.

95 Personal Records Already!

Our team’s core values, or GEMs, are Gratitude, Excellence, Meekness and Sacrifice.   The second GEM is Excellence, which has nothing to do with how good you are – it has everything to do with how much better you are.  Over the years, I have noticed that, if we all get better, the winning seems to take care of itself.

From our first practice until Christmas, we will use large chunks of our practice time to build every stroke and every wall from scratch.  This is the result of another truism that I learned long ago – the fastest way for a high school swimmer to get faster is to do the strokes right.  Dramatic improvements will never come by just swimming inefficiently incrementally better.

As you will see throughout the season, I will meticulously track Personal Records or “PRs” (i.e., Best Times) for each swimmer.  That is why seeing new swimmers at Time Trials is so important – to get a PR, you must have a time from which to improve.

It is nearly impossible to write a blog each week that mentions 125 swimmers, but one thing I will commit to – if you swim a PR, you are going to get highlighted.  So, here are the swimmers not previously mentioned who swam at least one PR:

  • Molly Bauer (FR) had an unusually large smile on her face (even for her) after she dropped 10.52 seconds in 50 Fly.
  • Lucia Bingham (FR) dropped .70 seconds in 50 Fly
  • Mariana Bingham (7) had two nice swims, particularly her 50 Fly where she cut 11.66 seconds. She also cut .31 seconds from her 50 Free PR.
  • Aaron Bishop (SO) last swam with us during his 8th grade season. It was great to see Aaron back with a 5-PR performance!  He cut 16.48 seconds in 100 Free, 8.72 seconds in 100 Back, 31.62 seconds in 100 Breaststroke, 12.21 seconds in 50 Fly, and 1.83 seconds in 50 Free.  It’s great to have “A-Ron” back on the team.
  • Joseph Borneman (FR) cut 2.01 seconds from the 50 Free time he swam on the first day of practice.
  • Emma Brox (SR) dropped even more time than her sister with an 11.15 second PR in 50 Fly.
  • Lucy Cunningham (FR) has come back this season more determined than ever, and it showed in her 4.91 second PR in 50 Fly and her 1.40 second PR in 50 Free.
  • Ben Ellis (7) is already showing improvement from the first day of practice with his 1.61 second PR in 50 Free.
  • Haley Fifield (FR) is off to a great start this season after her 1.54 second PR in 50 Free and her .74 second PR in 50 Fly.
  • Kyleigh Fifield (7) is already showing improvement with her .80 second PR in 50 Free.
  • Elizabeth Francis (FR) looked good on Friday night as she cut 1.16 seconds in 50 Fly and .47 seconds in 50 Free.
  • Amelia Geary (SO) dropped another .79 seconds in 50 Fly.
  • Aoife Haggerty (7) swam 50 Free on her first day at practice, and on Friday, she already dropped 3.05 seconds!
  • Orla Haggerty (FR) had two great swims including a 12.91 second PR in 50 Fly and a .21 second PR in 50 Free.
  • Patrick Hartung (JR) cut .07 seconds from his 50 Fly PR.
  • John Henry Hawley (8) impressed me at his first meet with Seton. Not only did he cut 3.77 seconds from his practice time in 50 Free, but he had excellent swims in 100 Free, 100 Breaststroke and particularly 100 Back.
  • Clare “Lieutenant” Heiny (6) had a very nice start to her future career at Seton with her first PR, a .90 drop in 50 Free.
  • Maddie “Major” Heiny (8) had a huge drop in 50 Free, lowering her time from the first practice by 2.51 seconds.
  • Daniel Hurley (8) dropped a huge 3.31 seconds in 50 Free.
  • Elizabeth Hurley (6) showed strong improvement in 50 Free over her time from the first day of practice. She swam 1.55 seconds faster than Election Day.
  • Mary Catherine Hurley (FR) looked better than ever in 50 Fly, lowering her PR by 2.25 seconds.
  • Dominic Judge (7) had some very strong times for a 7th grader, particularly in 50 Free where he cut 2.27 seconds from his PR.
  • Sophia Kanazeh (SR) had a crazy-huge improvement in 100 Back, lowering her previous PR by more than half a minute(31.34 seconds)! She also had a huge improvement in 50 Free with a 2.95 second PR.
  • Maggie Kleb (SR) last swam in the ’17-’18 season, but she is back. It pleases me greatly, so that is why I was so happy to see her cut 3.25 seconds in 100 Free, 3.20 seconds in 100 Back, and 2.04 seconds in 50 Fly.
  • Colette Kramer (8) looked better than ever in 100 Breast, swimming it 13.21 seconds faster than ever before. She also cut 1.60 seconds in 50 Free.
  • Cora Kramer (7) swam 50 Free 2.90 seconds faster than she did on the first day of practice.
  • Raphaël Likoy (7) is already showing tremendous improvement cutting 16.21 seconds in 50 Free.
  • Elizabeth Maranian (SR) joined the team as a senior for the first time. I love it when seniors stretch themselves like this, and that is why I was so pleased to see her get her first PR, a 2.25 second drop in 50 Free.
  • Aidan McCardell (8) is back this season and made the most of it with a 4.40 second PR in 50 Free.
  • Anna McGrath (FR) had her first big PR after cutting 4.29 seconds in 50 Free.
  • Michael McGrath (SO) had some huge PRs on Friday. How about a 13.28 second PR in 100 Free, a 17.65 second PR in 50 Fly, and a .33 second PR in 50 Free?!
  • Dominic Miller (SO) is practicing with us this year for our Seton Family Homeschool (SFH) team. (All the 6th graders will officially compete on this separate team also).  He’s been working hard in practice, and the results showed with a 6.93 second PR in 50 Fly and a .57 second PR in 50 Free.
  • Anthony Morales (8) looked strong after his 7.08 second PR in 100 Free, his 3.95 second PR in 100 Back, and his 2.84 second PR in 50 Free.
  • Jenna Novecosky (JR) had a massive 20.70 second PR in 100 Back!
  • Gabriel Orellana (FR) had his first PR, a big one too. He cut 12.56 seconds off the time he swam on the first day of practice.
  • Justin Orr (SR) has been hungry to improve, but he had a pretty filling meal on Friday night after a 15.87 second PR in 50 Free!
  • Mary Claire Osilka (8) looked better than ever in 50 Fly, lowering her previous PR by 2.39 seconds.
  • Jacqueline Oswald (JR) cut 2.39 seconds from her 50 Fly PR.
  • John Pugh (FR) swam well in 50 Free, cutting a whopping 14.70 seconds from his previous best time.
  • Emma Reynolds (JR) had the largest single improvement of the meet. Somehow, she managed to cut her 100 Breaststroke PR by more than a minute and a half (102.85 seconds to be exact).  Great work Emma!
  • Lizzie Rohan (FR) had several very fine swims, including her .26 second PR in 50 Free.
  • Briana Shillingburg (FR) had a huge drop in 50 Free, lowering her PR by 9.77 seconds! I would have loved to have seen what she could do in her other events.  You can always do more than you think you can do Briana – we are going to learn that this season.
  • Nick Vaughan (FR) showed huge early improvement in 50 Free, cutting his practice PR by 6.18 seconds.
  • Cate Waldron (SO) is off to a great start with a 3.99 second PR in 50 Fly.
  • Lily Waldron (6) took advantage of her first Seton meet ever with a huge 3.64 second PR.
  • Rose Waldron (FR) looked great in 50 Free, swimming the event .15 seconds faster than ever before.
  • Jonas Wilson (6) is going to be a good one. His 1:19.63 in 100 Free and 2:56.59 in 200 Free are a tremendous times for a kid his age – and he is already getting faster.  How about his .62 second PR in 50 Free.
  • Christina Witter (8) followed up her great swim in last year’s CF Swim-a-thon with a big 19.08 second PR in 200 Free and a 1.02 second PR in 50 Free.
  • Sophia Zadnik (SR) had a huge drop in 50 Fly, lowering her PR by 5.79 seconds.
  • Michael Zahorchak (7) looked very good in his first meet at Seton. I liked that 1:18.12 in 100 Free and that .49 second PR in 50 Free.

Things That Worked Quite Well

  • Captains – Once again, we have a very strong group of engaged Captains who are bringing our GEMS to life for everyone on the team. I was so pleased with Teresa Bingham, Lily Byers, Isabelle Luevano, Joey Dealey, JJ Brox, Nathan Luevano, and Kevin Orellana so far this season.
  • Volunteers – In the spirit of gratitude, I was pondering this morning how many high school swim teams could hold a Time Trials event like we did on Friday night. We had 8 coaches, a trained Starter and Referee, several other Stroke and Turn Judges, a Scorer running Meet Manager software, two people running the Colorado Timing Systems, an Announcer, a Nurse, a Head Timer, and 24 lane timers – all volunteers and all from our parent base.  I think we can count the high school teams in the State of Virginia that are capable of delivering that sort of volunteer base on one finger.
  • National Anthem – As you heard, I take how our team demonstrates respect for the National Anthem very seriously. So, I was very pleased about how seriously you all took the rehearsal of how we show that respect.   Thank you.
    • I thought you all might appreciate how our country used to celebrate the National Anthem. Click here for the opening ceremony for Super Bowl XXXIX, only 16 years ago.  Very powerful.
  • Almost No Events Missed – Unlike most of our upcoming meets, we used a modified Clerk of the Course at this meet, but starting with our meets in December, we will not provide you with that level of supervision. You are swimming on a high school swim team now, so we make the assumptions that you can get yourself to where you are supposed to be.  Our Starter waited for swimmers to get to the blocks occasionally, that is true, but overall, I was pretty impressed with how well our young team was able to get themselves to where they were supposed to be, on time.

Opportunity to Improve

There was only one area I saw on Friday night where we must improve:

  • Notification by Missing Swimmers – We had a number of swimmers who failed to show up at the meet and didn’t inform me in advance. With a team the size of our team, that is just not going to work.
    • We didn’t have relays on Friday night, but if you were ever the one who had to rearrange the relays on deck right before the meet is about to start while 128 kids are floating around and asking questions, then I promise you, you would never fail to e-mail me if you or your kid cannot make it to a meet.
    • And please use e-mail – don’t just tell me.
    • If you know you have to miss any meet this season, please e-mail me as soon as you reasonably can.
    • Thank you for keeping me fully informed.

The First GEM, “Grateful”

With Thanksgiving approaching, I thought it might be appropriate to share some words from Deacon Don Libera of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Warrenton:

This week offers us our first opportunity to put this into practice as we prepare for our Thanksgiving celebration on Thursday. In light of Thursday’s theme, maybe our focus, our theme during the coming weeks should be to have an attitude of gratitude. For indeed, when we are truly thankful, we are humbled because of the many blessings the Lord has bestowed on us.

When the spirit of gratitude is rooted in humility, it produces in us the fruit of authentic love, and becomes contagious. When we think about how gratitude works in our own lives, we know that when someone is sincerely grateful toward us for something that we did for them or gave to them, we are much more open to doing more for them.

When we see a spirit of generosity in our children, even when it is not directed toward us, we are more inclined to be more generous toward them. A spirit of gratitude and generosity in one person often causes the recipient to respond with gratitude and generosity. We bear God’s image in this. We imitate His unbounded generosity, His unbounded love for us. So how better to prepare.

I really like how Deacon Libera talks about the chain reaction that occurs when we should gratitude.  Gratitude is contagious.  Let’s start an epidemic!

Final Notes

  • For this coming week, we’ll finish our work on freestyle and probably start backstroke – so don’t miss practice!
  • On New Year’s Eve, December 31st, we’ll have our annual Cystic-Fibrosis swim-a-thon. Thanks again to the Given family for running it again.  I’ll pass on more information shortly, but I can tell you now that I’m looking forward to repeating the successful team effort of last season to raise money for this great cause.

I have been so pleased to see so many of you on deck with me and the other coaches for morning practice.  Your smiles, your laughter and your desire to get better make it fun for me also.

See you Monday morning,

Coach Jim Koehr

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