I’d say our third annual Time Trials and Pizza 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 practice a meet with our parent volunteers. One of the events that we swam was 50 Fly, which is not a normal high school event, but we did it so the coaches could get an early idea on who has potential in that stroke. From top to bottom, there were many reasons to get excited about our team’s prospects this season, including our hopes to defend our boys and girls VSIS Division II State Championships.
After only 2 and half weeks of practice, we somehow managed to swim 112 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 is 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). The improvement in our team’s stroke technique was stunning as the other coaches and I watched warm-up. I can’t tell you how pleased I was.
For those of you new to the team, I meticulously track “personal records” or “best times”. This practice fits in nicely with my philosophy of providing “levels of opportunity” for our swimmers. Some swimmers are beginners for whom victory means completing the 500 yard freestyle without stopping, others are national caliber swimmers who can swim with USA Swim coaches like Rick Benner of QDD and compete for State Championships, and most are somewhere in between. One common thread for all of these kids is that victory results from continuous improvement. If you continually improve your PR, the winning will take care of itself. This is true in swimming, it is true in our faith, and it is true in our lives.
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. I’ll never forget watching a tiny freshman, Lauren Donohoe, pop a :57 in 100 Free from the outside lane at Time Trials 4 years ago, or a not so young Jameson Hill do what he does 3 years ago.
Going into time trials, we pretty much knew about standout swimmers like Alex Doonis, Lauren Donohoe, Cat Rogers and Bridget Wunderly, and we had a great idea about what swimmers like David Basinger and Vincent “Catfish” Dunn 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 this season – one thing to notice is how young many of these kids are. Looks like we are reloading for the future with many talented up and comers on this year’s squad:
- Watch out for freshman Jamie Smith this season! I think he has the potential to be a great one (if we can keep his head quiet while he swims ;-)). Jamie had 5 impressive swims, but none more impressive than his 1.82 second PR in 100 Free when he went 56.79! That’s a great time for a freshman! Jamie also shined in with a 4.07 second PR in 100 Breast, a 1.89 second PR in 50 Fly, a 1.29 second PR in 100 Back, and a .71 second PR in 50 Free. Jamie got 3rd or 4th in every event he swam on Friday night, usually right behind our two star boys, David and Catfish. See you at States Jamie!
- Sophomore Mikey Wittlinger is one of my most pleasant surprises so far this year. You should see her work leading Coach Lowell’s practice lanes. She has improved so much since last season, that I can actually foresee Mikey swimming in some “A” relays this year. In fact the only swimmers that beat Mikey in the 50 and 100 Free were our 4 superstar girls, Lauren, Alex, Cat and Bridget! Mikey had PRs in all 5 events including a 9.46 second PR in 100 Free, a 7.47 second PR in 100 Back, a 3.50 second PR in 100 Breast, a 1.87 second PR in 50 Free and a 1.19 second PR in 50 Fly.
- It looks like Junior Michael Hill is poised to take over center lane breaststroke duties for Seton this season. Michael not only looked pretty good with his pre-season breaststroke, he also managed a 1.72 second PR in 100 Free and 4.96 second PR in 50 Fly.
- I think we can expect to see Steven Shaw in some “A” relays this season. After a tremendous cross country season, I’m very pleased to have him back in the water with Coach Lowell who is showing him no mercy. Steven dropped about 2.5 seconds in 100 Free, 100 Breast and 50 Fly. And they way he was swimming backstroke in practice this week (just a few times – we need to get to where he does it every time), I’m expecting big PRs there also.
- Watch out for Joe Kosten, only a freshman, in the future. Not only is he bigger, but his strokes are much better. Joe showed how much better by establishing 5 new PRs last Friday when he cut 11.92 seconds from his 50 Fly, 9.55 seconds from his 100 Breast, 7.35 seconds from his 100 Back, 6,74 seconds from his 100 Free, and 3.87 seconds from his 50 Free. Joe had the 5th or 6th fastest time on the entire boys team in everyone of the events he swam at Time Trials!
- Patrick Koehr, another Freshman, had to leave early with me for a funeral vigil, but that didn’t keep him from swimming twice and setting two PRs in 100 Breast, by 2.98 seconds, and 100 Free, by 2.24 seconds. Patrick had the 6th and 7th fastest times on the team, respectively, in these two events, so I’ll be expecting him to play a key role in the future of the team.
- Sophomore Luke Marrazzo should score a lot of points for us this season. His best race last Friday was his 100 Free where he cut 1.11 seconds. As he continues to eliminate the head movement while he’s swimming, his times will continue to drop. I’m sure that Luke will see plenty of duty in our scoring relays this season.
- Lucy Bennett, a junior, looks like she’ll be playing a role in our relays this season, particularly with her butterfly. She also showed some versatility with PRs in 100 Back, by 2.93 seconds, and 100 Breaststroke, by .02 seconds. Maybe she’ll be scoring for us in the 200 IM?
- It is not often that a Junior joins the team for his or her first time, but when it happens, it usually works out pretty well (think Tony Minarik). Well I expect that Hugh Brien is going to work out even better than that. He had a very good meet Friday night, swimming the 5th fastest time on the team in 50 Fly and the 8th fastest time in 100 Free. Part of the reason I expect him to do well this season is his attitude at practice. “Coachable” is usually a very good compliment for an athlete to receive, and I can tell you that Hugh is coachable.
- Senior Brendan Koehr was unable to swim because of the funeral vigil for which our family had to prepare. Also, senior Patrick Kenna and freshman Joe Kenna were unable to swim on Friday. If we are going to win our third straight boys State Championship, it will be with strong performances from these three, as well as the swimmers mentioned above. I’m looking forward to taking full advantage of Brendan and Patrick’s leadership and swimming ability for the team, and I know that Brendan, Patrick and Joe can count on service in our “A” relays this season.
- We have really loaded up with some talented 7th graders this season, particularly on the girls side. Of the 80 kids on the team this year, 13 of them are 7th grade girls and 6 of them are 7th grade boys. While they are not allowed to score in Varsity meets, I always make sure they get special attention, because I know that they are the kids who will be winning State Championships for Seton in four or five years. To paraphrase a famous college football coach, at Seton Swimming, it seems that we don’t rebuild, we just reload. Some of the most promising new 7th graders on the team look to be:
- Jillian Ceol – Believe it or not, Jillian swam the 6th fastest time on the girl’s team in 50 Free. And she was the 7th fastest Breaststroke and 8th fastest in the 100 Free. She has been a willing student at practice, paying close attention to how to improve her stroke technique. I don’t think I’ve seen a 7th grader like this since Alex Doonis! And look what happened with her!
- Nicolette Smith – She may be a tiny thing on the deck, but she doesn’t swim like it! I’ve been watching Nicolette in practice push kids much older than her to work harder through the power of her example. I also watched her at time trials swim the 9th fastest 100 Breaststroke time on the team.
- Emily Heim – Emily swam the 5th fastest time on the team in 100 Breast, behind only our 4 star upper-classmen. She also had the 15th fastest time on the team in 50 Free. Emily already practices with Jillian and Nicolette, and Claire Kenna (below) in Coach Lowell’s practice lanes, which is not normally a place for the timid. I’m really looking forward to seeing how Emily develops.
- Claire Kenna was unable to swim on Friday night, but her best 100 Free time from another team would put her in the top 5 among all girls on the team. I can’t wait to get her into her first Seton meet.
- I’m also going to be excited to see how Geni Lucas and Bryanna Farmer If they take full advantage of the coaching they are getting on their stroke technique in practice, they could really become something to watch!
In addition to the swimmers above, here are the other swimmers that contributed to our PR total on Friday night. I’ll post a write-up like this on the home page of www.setonswimming.org after every meet. I can’t promise that any individual swimmer will get mentioned – unless they swim a PR. Every swimmer who swims a PR will be recognized each week during the season:
- Sophomore David Lambrecht had a 5 PR night! His best performance was in breaststroke where he cut 14.88 seconds from his PR. He also cut 5.85 seconds in 100 Back, 3.84 seconds in 100 Free, 1.94 seconds in 50 Fly and .53 seconds in 50 Free.
- Michael Manley, a freshman who joined us late after cross country, also managed a 5 PR night! Included in his PRs were a 23.38 second drop in 100 Back, an 18.82 second drop in 100 Free, a 4.73 second drop in 50 Fly, a 2.31 second drop in 100 Breast, and a 1.09 second drop in 50 Free. Michael was a beginning swimmer with us last season, but it looks like he’s learned quite a bit!
- Sophomore James Mosimann joined some of his teammates with a 5 PR performance of his own. James cut 5.10 seconds in 100 Free, 2.61 seconds in 100 Breast, .77 seconds in 100 Back, .35 seconds in 100 Fly and .21 seconds in 50 Free. Just wait until he gets back into shape!
- Peter Quinan, a sophomore, had a great night with 5 PRs of his own. He lowered his 50 Fly time by 17.79, his 100 Free time by 9.63 seconds, his 100 Back time by 8.08 seconds, his 100 Breast time by 5.98 seconds and his 50 Free time by .84 seconds.
- And 8th grader Jude Van de Voorde was the final swimmer who completed the evening with 5 personal records. Jude cut 11.69 seconds from his 100 Back, 11.50 seconds from his 50 Fly, 6.19 seconds from his 100 Breast, 3.66 seconds from his 100 Free, and .39 seconds from his 50 Free. I know Coach Smith was very proud!
- Bernadette Wunderly is going to score some points for us this season! I was quite pleased to see her swim 3 PRs including a 1.76 second PR in Back, a 1.56 second PR in 100 Free and a .87 second PR in 50 Free.
- Paul Mosimann, now in 8th grade, nearly duplicated his older brother’s feat with his 4 PR night. Paul lowered his 100 Free PR by 12.20 seconds, his 100 Back PR by 10.87 seconds, his 100 Breast PR by 7.51 seconds, and his 50 Fly PR by 7.12 seconds. Those are very big drops!
- Paul Pechie, another 8th grader, is going to be a good one for Seton in the future if he continues to improve the way he has been since he joined our team. On Friday night, Paul had 4 PRs lowering his 100 Back by 7.46 seconds, his 50 Fly by 6.13 seconds, his 100 Free by 2.29 seconds and his 100 Breast by 1.56 seconds.
- Kenneth Cuomo, a freshman, is still recovering from a foot injury, but you wouldn’t have known if from his 4 PR night. Kenneth cut 33 seconds from his 100 Breast PR, 25 seconds from his 50 Fly PR, 2.46 seconds from his 100 Free PR, and 1.88 seconds from his 100 Back PR. Those two really big PRs are over times from last year’s time trials, so it gives you an idea of how much he improved last season!
- I’ve been very excited watching sophomore Keziah Higginbottom in practice. She’s a sophomore now, and took a hiatus from swimming to try diving over the past few years, but now she’s back and looking strong. She cut 17.17 seconds from her 100 Back PR, 13.55 seconds from her 100 Breast PR, 8.28 seconds from her 100 Free PR and 4.07 seconds from her 50 Free PR.
- Monica Byers cut .61 seconds from her 50 Free PR. Her strokes are really looking nice already this season.
- I’m expecting Sarah Heim to score some points for us this season. Last Friday, she had a 3.28 second PR in 100 Back and a 1.33 second PR in 100 Breaststroke.
- Sally Marrazzo, an eighth grader, shows the potential to score for us this season, especially if she continues to do things like cut 11.98 seconds from her 100 Free PR like she did Friday night!
- Eighth grader Joe Irving had an awfully good evening with 4 PRs including a 9.54 second improvement in 100 Back, a 9.03 second improvement in 50 Fly, a 3.28 second improvement in 100 Breast, and a 2.25 second improvement in 100 Free.
- Freshman Julia Irving got a late start because of her great finish to the cross country season, but she still managed 3 PRs including a 3.26 second PR in 100 Free, a .70 second PR in 100 Back and a .19 second PR in 100 Breast.
- Sophomore Shannon Kerns came back with two PRs, one in 100 Back (by 4.32 seconds) and one in 100 Free (by .03 seconds).
- I’m excited to get freshman Connor Kleb in the water more often so he can keep doing things like cutting 1.85 seconds from 100 Free PR and 3.15 seconds from his 50 Fly PR.
- Senior Christian “Rocky” Kleb will take responsibility for getting Connor to practice more often. Rocky’s work in practice, particularly on his butterfly late last season, resulted in a .57 second PR in 50 Fly.
- Freshman, Fiona Seoh, who just came off of cross country season, had a nice start to her swimming season with 4 PRs. Fiona lowered her 100 Back PR by 10.75 seconds, her 100 Breast PR by 8.79 seconds, her 50 Fly PR by 1.36 seconds and her 100 Free PR by .41 seconds.
- I could see that 8th grader Ann Pennefather has been listening in practice. Ann cut 4.15 seconds from her 100 Free PR using her improved stroke mechanics. She also cut 5.22 seconds from her 100 Breast, .92 seconds from her 100 Back and .72 seconds from her 50 Fly. Her cousin, Michaela Pennefather, was sick for this meet, but they’ve been swimming together in practice, so I expect great things from Michaela also.
- If 8th grader Tommy Shaw can absorb all of the coaching he’s been getting from Coach Kosten and Coach Smith, he will continue to show the kind of improvement he showed Friday. Tommy cut 3.12 seconds from his 100 Back PR, 2.78 seconds from his 100 Free PR and 1.42 seconds from his 50 Fly PR.
- Freshman Theresa Verry, had a big PR in 100 Back, beating her previous best by 3.86 seconds. Now that we’ve been working on backstroke in practice, I can’t wait to see what happens the next time she swims it.
- Patrick Hilleary, a junior, is back for his second season and has shown amazing improvement since he started as a beginner last season. He somehow managed to drop 34.25 seconds from his 100 Free PR and 9.66 seconds from his 50 Free PR. Great job Patrick!
- Michael Collins lowered his 50 Fly PR by 1.79 seconds. I’m really looking forward to seeing him step up in that breaststroke this year.
- Welcome back Fiona Geiran who had a 1.24 second PR in 50 Fly.
Names You’ll Hear A Lot About This Season
I saved these 6 swimmers for last since, for most of the rest of the season, I suspect I’ll be talking about them first. All six of these kids have a great shot at All-State honors this year:
- Senior David Basinger showed what a beast he’s going to be this season. He had a 2.49 second PR in 100 Breast and a .83 second PR in 50 Fly. How about a 25.83 in 50 Fly? And that breaststroke looked good enough to really help his IM. He also popped a 51.22 while cruising in the 100 Free and a 23 high in 50 Free. David should be in contention for the high point award for the boys this season.
- Junior Alex Doonis was a star last year, and I expect her to be a superstar for Seton this season. Swimmers at her level don’t generally do PRs at this point in the season, but she managed a 1.43 second PR in 50 Fly over a time she swam at last year’s time trials. But the most exciting thing I saw from her was that 55.76 in 100 Free. If she is doing that at a pre-season time trial meet, I can only imagine what she’ll be doing late in the season.
- Vincent “Catfish” Dunn, a junior, did something you almost never see from a top swimmer during the pre-season: he set 4 new Personal Records! How about a 51.02 in 100 Free – pre-season? I’m sure he has a 49 high in him later this year. And how about a 23 high in 50 Free? This shows great versatility for a swimmer who has not been a big sprinter in the past. And with his PRs in 100 Breast and 50 Fly, Catfish is showing what a great all around swimmer he is becoming.
- The powerful strokes of junior Cat Rogers were on display, especially when she was right up with Alex and Lauren in the 100 Free. I was happy to see her improving in strokes other than Free and Breast. Cat cut 3.77 seconds from her 100 Back and .99 seconds from her 50 Fly. We’re going to need her versatility for the IM at some point this season, I’m sure. And I’m really looking forward to watching Cat take down Seton legend Katie Shipko’s team record in 100 Breast at some point this season.
- Bridget Wunderly, a senior this year, is going to have a great season – I can see it already. I expect her best performances to come in 100 Fly and middle distance freestyle, probably the 500 Free. She had a good night on Friday finishing 2nd, 3rd, or 4th in every event, including PRs in 50 and 100 Free and 50 Fly.
- And, to round out the top swimmers to watch this coming season, I’m really looking forward to seeing Lauren “the Machine” Donohoe on the back end of those relays again. I’m particularly enjoying Lauren’s leadership as a player-coach (well, actually a swimmer-coach) this year. This morning, she led her lane’s practice while in the water working out with them!
Opportunities for Improvement In the Water
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 dissatisfied 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. Remember what we learned last week in practice – 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 Coach Benner, sometimes, the guy who wins is the guy who slows down the least. Why waste a perfectly good push-off from the wall?
Opportunities for Improvement Out of the Water
- There’s a big difference between summer swimming and high school swimming, particularly Seton Swimming. One of the biggest differences is that there is no Clerk of the Course where some volunteer mother has the inevitable task of lining kids up in chairs to stage them for the upcoming heats. With Seton Swimming, we assume a certain level of personal accountability and self-reliance. Every swimmer is personally responsible for making sure they are in the right place at the right time. We had a lot of trouble with this on Friday night. It was not a huge deal for Time Trials, but during the season, it will be a huge deal. We all know the deal now – you are big boys and girls. I trust we have seen the last of this problem.
- Another problem was swimmers missing the meet without letting me know, BEFORE I spend hours doing the meet sheet. Even worse, were kids who missed the meet without letting me know at all. Swimmers, if you had any idea how much time I spend preparing for a meet, you would quickly realize that both are highly uncool.
- One implication of so many missed events is that several kids swam in the wrong heat and lane. That meant that the time they swam was recorded for someone else. At Seton Swimming, everything is computerized. Your time goes straight from the touch pad in the pool to the Meet Manager Software on the computer on deck. Meet Manager knows, in advance, which kids are in which lanes. From Meet Manager, Mr. Cook sends me a file that I import into my Team Manager software, which is what I use to keep track of everyone’s best times. If someone swims in your lane, you get their time. If you swim in someone else’s lane, they get your time. I’ve caught and corrected a number of these issues, but if you see an obvious error in the results, please let me know so I can get it straight. In future meets, all heats are seeded based on your best times, so it is important that your PRs are correct.
I am often asked how we get so many kids on our team (I think the number has settled at 80!). 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, particularly the new parents. 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 pizza party. The extra side dishes were a nice touch!
So we’re off to another great season. A season that I hope will end with over 500 PRs, our 17th straight Conference Title, and maybe even two more State Championships. But remember, Seton championships are won at 6:04 a.m. in morning. See you Monday morning.