When the ultra-choppy water at Evanston's pool settled following Friday's prelims for the IHSA girls state swim meet -- many things were clearer for both area teams and the state's best as well.
For example, each of St. Charles East, St. Charles North and Rosary still had swimmers alive and one of those -- St. Charles East's Nicole Chapko -- had qualified for a championship heat and gets to swim for the state title in today's finals.
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The team title is up for grabs between two-time defending champion New Trier and Fenwick. Three state records and one national record fell -- two to Glenbrook South senior Olivia Smoliga, who lowered her existing records in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100 backstroke. Smoliga's 51.84 time in the backstroke broke the national record by .01. Fenwick's 200 medley relay accounted for the third record.
On another blisteringly fast day of state finals competition, St. Charles East set itself up to score the best in Saturday's finals. The Saints have six individual swims as well as their 400 freestyle relay alive.
"We kind of surfed a little bit, we were up and down," St. Charles East coach Joe Cabel said. "We were on fire going into that (200 freestyle) relay. And we got (disqualified) there, so that was a bit of a toughie there. But we coach them to go, not to sit on the block."
The Saints have Chapko swimming seeded sixth in the 100 breaststroke. The senior also swims in the consolation heat of the 200 IM.
"I think the day went really well," Chapko said. "I wasn't expecting to go that quick in the IM, so that was a good surprise. The 200 free relay, that was rough but you had to just push that aside. And then I pulled out a good breaststroke swim and then we made it back in the last relay. So the day turned out pretty well."
Chapko placed fourth in the 200 IM as a sophomore and was fifth in the 100 breaststroke in the same meet. Returning to swim for a top six spot in at least one of her individual events was a goal, she said.
"I missed it in the IM and that was goal, to at least make that in the breaststroke," Chapko said. "It feels really good to be able to make the final heat."
St. Charles East has four further swimmers in competition today. Mary Snyder is seeded seventh in the 200 freestyle and seeded 12th in the 100 freestyle; Izzie Bindseil is the 11th seed in the 500 freestyle while Shea Hoyt is seeded 10th in the 100 breaststroke, meaning the Saints will "double score" in that event with Hoyt and Chapko.
"We were all just a bit tenuous," Cabel said. "Once we got our first swims out of the way, it started to gel for us. That was true for (Snyder.) She got better as she went. These girls didn't place last year, so it's a big deal for them."
St. Charles North had only one swimmer unrested for last week's sectional. That swimmer, freshman Monica Guyette, advanced to the consolation heat of the 500 freestyle.
"We got a lot of valuable experience for this young team," St. Charles North coach Rob Rooney said. "Our goal of getting Monica Guyette through took place. From where we started to where we finished is awesome."
Guyette is seeded 10th heading into the finals.
"She can swim faster," Rooney said. "I even thought her swim was a little bit nervous on the front end. She didn't swim it really smooth. We'll see where it goes from here."
The rest of the North Stars have the opportunity to experience the second day of the state meet and feel the excitement that is sure to take place.
"I want them to learn, remember and we'll do better," Rooney said.
Rosary has two swimmers alive -- Erin Hart in the 100 freestyle and Annie Gosselin in the 100 backstroke. Both are seeded 10th.
"When people asked me how we could do, I said we could finish fifth or 25th," Rosary coach Bill Schalz said. "We've got a very talented team but we're very young. I think we had six of our eight girls had never been here before. They're going to get experience, but there's no value to experience if you don't turn around next year and do something with it."
Schalz said he felt both Beads swimmers could perform well in their finals races.
"Both girls had nice swims but neither one of them hit their goal times," Schalz said. "That's something they want to do. (Gosselin) ran into the lane divider on the backstroke. So she can be a lot faster (Saturday.) I think both these girls have great potential for the future."
Neither of West Aurora's state qualifying divers qualified for Saturday's finals.