THE NOVA AQUATIC CENTER TURNED 22 ON MONDAY . . . a most memorable these 22 years, marked as they have been, by prudent expansion, multiple state and national championships and sound finances. We can all thank the visionary board led by Don Farmer (whose granddaughter Brantley is currently in the program!!) that made this pool we call home happen. We can thank subsequent Boards for being thoughtful and watchful stewards of the on-going process we call NOVA. On Monday, I asked Shana Lowry, who experienced that opening day (we swam an hour at U of R, then drove to NOVA to finish practice), to talk to the 2:30 and 3:30 Novice Gold Groups. Shana was awesome! She told our young swimmers about that first day, then reminded them how lucky they were to be swimming at the NOVA Aquatic Center, their own pool.



THE NEWEST NOVA TEAM T-SHIRT . . . , 2018-2019 version, has hit the Swim Shop but the deadline has passed. IF you missed, throw yourself on the kindness of the Swim Shop ladies.



THE NOVA DISTANCE TUNE-UP ALWAYS PRODUCES SOME FAST SWIMS . . . and this year’s version was no exception. Chris DallaValle and DC Hellams asked to do both events, a request quickly and easily granted. Taking on a 400 IM, then a 1000 free in succession is no easy task. Doing them each in a Junior cut is harder still so a tip of the NOVA cap followed by a deep bow goes to Chris DallaValle; DC managed a 400 IM cut and a solid swim in the 1000! Congratulations to each!! Officials and parents noted how Chris and Aidan Duffy stayed to count for the younger 1000 free folk and were much impressed. Eleven junior cuts made for an exciting evening, highlighted by a spectacular 4:11 IM by Grace Sheble. Check out the long list of TSI’s and and barrier breakers for some sense of how swift this meet was. 

  NOVA All Time Top Ten Performances


Charlie Mayr          1000 free 3rd

Eric Lambert           400 IM 8th


First Place Winners

Crash Ackerly          400 IM

Courtney Carter       1000 free

Amelia Chen            400 IM

Eric Lambert           400 IM

Charlie Mayr          1000 free

Garrett McGovern      1000 free

Keira Reid            1000 free

Katie Russell          400 IM

Xander Schreck        1000 free

Grace Sheble           400 IM

Annabelle Young       1000 free


NCSA Juniors

Sarah Bender           400 IM

Danny Chance          1000 free

Zach Cram              400 IM

Chris DallaValle      1000 free, 400 IM

DC Hellams             400 IM

Patrick Madden         400 IM

Garrett McGovern      1000 free

Caroline Sheble        400 IM

Grace Sheble           400 IM

Maddie Wallin          400 IM


Time Standard Improvements (TSI)

Jason Abbey           1000 free AA

Crash Ackerly          400 IM AA

Lauren Armstrong       400 IM AA

Brooke Bailey          400 IM AAA

Amanda Barnard         400 IM AAA

Ella Barron            400 IM A

Henry Berger          1000 free A

Brady Bever            400 IM A

Brooks Bower           400 IM BB

Aiden Boyd            1000 free A

Riley Campbell         400 IM A

Morgan Carney         1000 free BB

Courtney Carter        500 free A

Amelia Chen            400 IM AAA

JD Chen                400 IM A

Seamus Connell        1000 free BB

Lillie D. Connor      1000 free A

Cameron Cook          1000 free BB

Shane Cutchin         1000 free BB

Jack Dickerson        1000 free A

Gabriella Douglas     1000 free BB

Aidan Duffy           1000 free AAA

Eric Fagan             400 IM A

Thomas Farney         1000 free AA

Sebastian Florez      1000 free BB

Josephine Fuller      1000 free AA

Will Glass            1000 free A

Mary-Stuart Hawkins    400 IM AAA

Tripp Hawkins         1000 free BB

Connor Hughes         1000 free BB

Ava Hutcherson         400 IM AAA

Aidan Jacobs          1000 free A

Bryant Julian         1000 free BB

Emily Kantner          400 IM AAA

Kate Kuhlen           1000 free AA

Andrew Kulak          1000 free BB

Nicholas Kuriger      1000 free AA

Eric Lambert           400 IM AAA

Rawlings Leachman      400 IM A  

Mia Lee-Bishop         400 IM AA

Gabi Linkonis          400 IM AA

Bella Little           400 IM AA

Sherry Luo             400 IM A

Bri Mason             1000 free AA

Charlie Mayr          1000 free AAAA

Nathaniel Milligan     400 IM B

Jackson Mueller       1000 free A

Cole Nuckols           400 IM AA

Molly Nystrom         1000 free BB   

Cole Owen             1000 free BB

Garland Reid          1000 free BB

Keira Reid            1000 free AAA

Spencer Ridge          400 IM AA

Matthew Rivas         1000 free BB

Cristina Rodriguez     400 IM A

Katie Russell          400 IM AAA

Liam Ryan              400 IM AAA

Meghan Schmidt        1000 free A

AJ Schwabe            1000 free AA

Joseph Shaia          1000 free A

Ethan Smith           1000 free BB

Alex Sushkoff         1000 free A

Sam Sweetser          1000 free AAA

Nathan Szobota        1000 free AAA

Justas Viliusis       1000 free BB

Claudia Vincent       1000 free A

Sarah Wagner           400 IM AAA

Owen Wassmer          1000 free A

Sadie Webb             400 IM AA

Adele Wheatley         400 IM AA

Catherine White       1000 free A

Tess Williams          400 IM AA

Annabelle Young       1000 free AAAA

Blake Young           1000 free AA

Aaron Yuan            1000 free A  


Barrier Breakers

Liam Ryan              <   4:20         400 IM

Crash Ackerly          <   4:40         400 IM

Emily Kantner

Katie Russell

Lauren Armstrong       <   5:00         400 IM

Brooks Bower

Amelia Chen

Eric Fagan

Eric Lambert

Anna Newell

Cole Nuckols

Brooke Bailey          <   5:30         400 IM

Amanda Barnard

Charlotte Barron

Brady Bever

Riley Campbell

JD Chen

Rawlings Leachman

Gabi Linkonis

Bella Little

Sherry Luo

Nathaniel Milligan

Cristina Rodriguez

Sadie Webb

Lizzie Weir

Adele Wheatley

Tess Williams

Aidan Duffy            <  10:00        1000 free

Abby Russell           <  10:30        1000 free

AJ Schwabe

Sam Sweetser

Blake Young

Jason Abbey            <  11:00        1000 free

Thomas Farney

Josephine Fuller

Aidan Jacobs

Charlie Mayr

Grady Potter

Joseph Shaia

Owen Wassmer

Henry Berger           <  12:00        1000 free

Aiden Boyd

Seamus Connell

Lillie D. Connor

Cameron Cook

Sebastian Florez

Connor Hughes

Kate Kuhlen

Andrew Kulak

Nicholas Kuriger

Cole Owen

Keira Reid

Meghan Schmidt

Ethan Smith

Nathan Szobota

Justas Viliusis

Claudia Vincent

Catherine White

Morgan Carney          <  13:00        1000 free

Shane Cutchin

Jack Dickerson

Gabriella Douglas

Bryant Julian

Bri Mason

Molly Nystrom

Matthew Rivas

Alex Sushkoff 




 . . .  are marked by strict meet entry deadlines for the championship series of meets (see later). Parents attempting to enter the meets after the deadlines will pay a hefty penalty mandated by Virginia Swimming. Even those meets run here at NOVA must follow those guidelines. Meets hosted here and coach and swimmer departures to away meets may disrupt the schedule in small and large ways.

 . . . Ah, that Championship season business. . . that seems to consume these two months. For those of you new to NOVA, I’ll sketch out the championship season and then offer a quick glance on later spring into summer.  The first “championship” meet is the 8 and Under District Champs on February 9-10th. This meet is open to all 8 & U swimmers regardless of time qualification. The next meet is the 9-12 Central District Championships, February 15th-17th and it is for all swimmers lacking Age Group Champs qualifying times (see the website for time standards links).  This meet has been expanded this year to include Trials and Finals for 9-10 and 11-12 year olds, one heat of finals for the former, two heats for the latter. Again, this meet is open to all 12 & under swimmers below an Age Group Champs cut. Entry deadlines for these meets will be firm, without wiggle room. The coaching staff would like see all eligible swimmers entered into each meet with a maximum line-up of events.  All 13-18 swimmers who haven’t qualified for AGC or Senior Champs will attend the Regional Champs, held February 22-24th at the Jeff Rouse Center just north of Fredericksburg.  All those 14 and unders from these meets who make Age Group Champs (AGC) Qualifying times move on to the State Age Group Champs March 7th-10th in Christiansburg. All 15 and over qualifiers move on to the Virginia Senior Champs, February 28th- March 3rd, back again this year in Stafford and the Jeff Rouse Center.  A compressed timetable:

2/9-2/10     8 and Under District Champs
2/15-17      12 and under District Champs
2/22-24      13 and over Regional Champs
2/28-3/3     Virginia State Senior Champs
3/7-3/10     Virginia Age Group Champs

We term this rush of meets the “championship season”.  Following these meets are the various high level All Star or fast qualifying times championship meets listed below. These meets are generally travel meets to the land of Far Far Away.  

3/19-3/23    NCSA Juniors, Orlando, FL
3/20-3/23    Florida International Championships, Clearwater, FL
3/27-3/30    NCSA Age Group, Orlando, FL

So there it all is - a tidy summing up of what lies ahead.

 Remarkable advances are often made by swimmers who immerse themselves in the championship season. The acts of qualifying for a meet, then participating in it often change the trajectories of swimming careers. You must be present to win these sometimes astonishing advances!



SOME OF OUR COLLEGE-BOUND SENIORS HAVE MADE DECISIONS . . . and we are delighted to announce the following future destinations. Our rule here is simple: gotta know before a name is added to this list. So here’s what we currently know. If you know and we don’t, stay calm and drop me a line. Our latest additions are Laney Van Lenten who will join Sally Ennis (and 2018 grad Caroline Baber) at Washington & Lee as a student and athlete, Michael Senter is heading to Ashland and Randolph-Macon College and Colin Clements is joining a couple of the girls at William & Mary. Congratulations to Laney, Michael and Colin!!! More to come, I am sure, and NN will let you know as soon as it knows!!

Maggie Baham      Allegheny College
Colin Clements      William & Mary
Mary Cornett      Penn State
Zack Cram         North Carolina State
Chris DallaValle  Duke
Sally Ennis       Washington & Lee
Mark Graff        Vanderbilt
Maura Graff       William and Mary
Reid Hutcherson   Villanova
Quinn Keatley     Roanoke College
Tillie Lewis      NYU
Alli Lovell       University of the Cumberlands
Patrick Madden    Denison
Iain Moore        Franklin & Marshall
Peyton Proffitt   William and Mary
Michael Senter    Randolph-Macon College
Ethan Spencer     DePauw University
Laney Van Lenten  Washington & Lee



THE COACHING STAFF IS ALWAYS LOOKING TO IMPROVE THE MEET ENTRY PROCESS . . . both for parents and for our meet management folks. Each meet entry is posted and coaches strongly request that parents either accept or decline a meet entry. We do aim to accommodate late entries whenever possible but that means extra work for our meet entry team. So please let us know your intentions for meets listed for your swimmer’s training group.  Just log in, find the appropriate meet and let us know your intentions. The coaching staff will also often send reminder e-mails as meet deadlines approach.



THIS WEEK REMINDS US THAT RICHMOND WEATHER IS SOMETIMES ERRATIC . . . and even warm spells such as the one we are experiencing this week eliminate a need for warm gear together with dry socks and shoes. Each year in the cold months, NOVA swimmers continue to arrive at NOVA as if it was summer, dashing from or to a car in a bathing suit.  The good habits of a swimmer’s career begin early and that means dressing warmly when cold or even mildly chilly winds blow. Shoes, socks, gloves, wool hats and warm parkas do much to blunt winter’s bite. An athlete emerging from a taxing practice needs to let his body and muscles recover inside some warm wrappings.


THE WINTER MONTHS BRING MORE THAN COLD . . . . They bring - no big surprise - darkness and that darkness makes the parking lot more of a hazard than in better-lit months. I am asking that all drivers exercise extreme caution upon entering NOVA from Gayton Road. Some of the swimmers play outside; some swimmers aim swift charges at warm cars. The potential for serious mischief is there and slowing down is certainly a good way to minimize or avoid it. Thank you in advance for your support of my yearly slow down initiative.


OUR LOST BUT NOT FOUND . . . is one unmanned store with some customer friendly store hours, generally 4:45 AM to 8:30 PM M-F with generous weekend hours available as well. Its business cycle is unusual. Inventory grows and grows until the invisible hand of the marketplace sweeps all away to the waiting hands of Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Towels, suits and water bottles are inventory staples but jackets, boots and umbrellas are not unknown! Feel free to stop and shop and claim what is yours.


A TIMELY REMINDER:   As parents, we all hope our children do well in school and that means a steady diet of “A’s” and correct answers. Success is what we want them to embrace. While we want them to do the same in athletics, it is worth noting that the path to success in sports is littered with failure. LeBron fouls, Bryce Harper strikes out, Messi misses. Failure and/or mistakes are constants in all sports. It is part of the passage to success. Some failures are absolutely the key to great future success. So stay patient during the process: it’s sports, not school. NOVA’s coaches understand that DQ’s, missed turns and their kith and kin are learning moments!



PARENTS BE ADVISED THAT CHILDREN PLAYING OUTSIDE THE BUILDING ARE NOT UNDER THE SUPERVISION . . . of any NOVA staff member.  If your child plays outside and that is OK with you, please remind them that ours is a “trafficked” parking lot and that swiftly darting young children should be wary of the driving lanes.  On the other hand, we are asking that all parents be especially vigilant when you enter our parking lot.  On a slightly related note, please respect the handicapped parking places.  I know folks like to use these spaces for picking up swimmers but they are there to provide easy access for handicapped or special needs swimmers and visitors.  We appreciate your support !


DO YOU HAVE ADDITIONAL FAMILY MEMBERS WHO HAVE EXPRESSED INTEREST IN NOVA? FRIENDS WHO SEEM INTERESTED?  We stand ready to evaluate any and all who have summer swim team level abilities.  Evaluations are quick, easy and free. Interested? E-mail Drew or Geoff. We can take care of most swimming levels somewhere in our program.  From lessons to Masters, NOVA is a full service swimming organization, the best in Richmond and in Virginia.  Modesty forbids us to say more so we’ll stop with that minor bragging.


BEFORE DONATING ELSEWHERE . . . check with the staff to see if NOVA has a need. For example, re-doing your kitchen? Have a decent refrigerator? Consider taking the tax write-off and helping NOVA. We have three such refrigerators here at NOVA but we are always looking to update.




WE HAVE THE NOVA FLAT HAT BULLETIN BOARD . . . that traces, through pictures, the travels of NOVA families and their NOVA caps. I thought it would be fun to see NOVA’s international bloodlines. Here is the rule: only parents and children count. So parents or children have to be first generation here in the United States.  Here’s what we have gathered - I suspect we have more. And I proved to be right after many long months, then a very short week of waiting!!   We now have 38 countries and counting! Another South American country (Ecuador was our previous most recent addition), Chile, becomes our latest proud addition to our point of origin list. Don’t hold out on us regarding your point of origin if you’re not on this list!

Czech Republic



Seychelles Bosnia & Herzegovina
South Africa
Sri Lanka
The Philippines

E-mail Coach Geoff with any additions. I suspect we will have an amazing NOVA tapestry when we are done - if we ever get done!!!


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