At a time of the season when large time drops are rare, especially among elite girls swimmers, the fact that Naperville North's Devin Jacobs dropped two seconds from her seasonal best in the 100-yard breaststroke at Saturday's Rosary Invitational was an eye-opener.
And two of those eyes belonged to Jacobs, who hadn't foreseen such a time drop. But her 1:06.99 time in the event earned her victory over Neuqua Valley's Hornstra. Jacobs also won the 200 freestyle and helped propel the Huskies to a second-place finish in the five-team meet.
"That was a big surprise for me," Jacobs said of her breastroke time drop. "I wasn't expecting that at all. But I have been training more breaststroke, so that was a great feeling."
Jacobs was one of a number of swimmers who compete in club season for the Academy Bullets, who train at Marmion's pool -- the site of Saturday's meet.
"There's a lot of my (club) teammates here," Jacobs said. "This is also a lot like the sectional meet for me, because these are a lot of my rivals. So I think it was the atmosphere and all of the competition that brought out the swim."
Naperville North's 200 freestyle relay narrowly lost to Rosary, but the Huskies' 400 freestyle relay ended the meet with an emphatic victory.
"All the girls had some nice swims today," Naperville North coach Andy McWhirter said. "In an early-morning meet like this the girls had some good intense swims."
Rosary's invitational starts at 9 a.m. and is finished before 11 a.m., making it the shortest invitational in duration in the girls season. Swimmers are used to early morning practices, so that aspect of the meet was hardly alien to them.
"Most invitationals start at 1 p.m.," McWhirter said. "We got up at 6 o'clock, went to our school and the girls swam and then they came here for the meet. This was like the second half of their practice."
Naperville Central finished third in the meet and had a race winner when Kelly Lehane won the 500 freestyle, which she coupled with a fourth-place finish in the 200 freestyle.
"I started a little rough," Lehane said. "My 200 free wasn't as fast as I wanted to go. But I used that as motivation to do better in the 500 free. Right before the race, I felt my adrenaline rushing and that's how I just kind of got out after it."
Lehane established herself ahead of Rosary's Georgia Young in the 500 freestyle and kept churning through her 50-yard splits, eventually claiming a four-second victory.
"I like to place myself the same way most of the time," Lehane said. "Most girls start out slow and then expect to build themselves up. But I like to stay around the same pace, around 30-31 throughout the whole thing and then bring it home, because I know not a lot of girls do that."
Naperville Central's 200 medley relay -- Kamryn Gallowich, Sydney Weeks, Beth Ryan and Erin Stevens -- provided the Redhawks' lone second-place finish in the meet.
"Today was a little bit of a struggle," Naperville Central coach Mike Adams said. "We've been hitting training pretty hard. We started pretty well in the season but have hit it pretty hard in practice. So I'm not concerned at all. I just want to try to keep the girls competitive on some level. We're not focusing on the times, just on being competitive."
Neuqua Valley finished fourth in the meet and had race winner in back-to-back races when Natalie McGovern won the 100 butterfly and Grace Soltys claimed the 100 freestyle.
"I thought our girls swam really well," Neuqua Valley coach Jason Niforatos said. "They got up and raced. There's still a lot to work on, but I think they came in and did a very nice job today."