Talk about starting a conference meet with a bang. At a time of the year when teams typically do not swim their fastest -- St. Charles East opened the Upstate Conference meet by setting not just a conference record but the pool record at St. Charles North when the 200-yard medley relay blazed to a 1:47.93 time.
Those swimmers -- Jordan Morling, Shea Hoyt, Isabel Herb and Katie Nagler -- broke the 1:48.23 conference record set a year ago by Neuqua Valley and erased Glenbrook South's 1:48.11 from St. Charles North's record board.
"It was crazy," Morling said. "We were looking to see what we could do before state and before we were tapered. We were waiting and waiting to see the time on the board. When we saw it, we went crazy."
To open with such a performance was a strong omen not just for the rest of the conference meet but the postseason as a whole.
"It gets you really pumped for sectional and state when we're not going to be really tired and have our game faces on," Herb said. "It's going to be awesome. I can't wait to see how far we can go with this team."
The Saints went on to claim the conference title 288-234 over the host North Stars in the nine-team UEC meet.
"We had a tremendous start, trailed off a bit and then brought it back at the end," Cabel said. "We had a lot of great swims at the end of a great week of training. We didn't look good today, but sometimes you've got to win ugly, and we did that."
Morling had a strong meet for the Saints. She won the 200 IM with Herb finishing second. Then Morling broke the 100 backstroke record Neuqua Valley's Melissa Marik held since 2002.
"We've been training super hard this past week and we're going to keep training super hard," Morling said. "Our bodies are really tired. But the fact that we came together as a team and won feels really good."
St. Charles East had a series of other strong performance, highlighted by a conference championship by Hoyt in the 100 breaststroke.
"(Hoyt's) a great breaststroker and a spring freestyler for us," Cabel said. "She's another one who really suffered through training this week. They are just not feeling good in the water right now."
Herb was second in the 200 freestyle finished fifth in the 100 breaststroke.
"Last year, I wasn't on the whole season," Herb said. "This season, it's been such an experience to be on varsity the whole time and be with these amazing girls."
The Saints also capped the meet with victory in the 400 freestyle relay when Stephanie Garvin, Morling, Bridget Flscher and Bindseil finished first.
St. Charles North had a strong meet itself. The North Stars' gained a double conference champion when Monica Guyett won the 200 freestyle and then won the 500 freestyle by 10 seconds.
"I felt really good," Guyett said. "We've been going really hard all through October. I felt pretty good today."
Guyett swam faster at the end of the 500 than she did in the middle of the race and increased her lead through the final 100 yards.
"I feel I started strong and then my middle still needs work on," Guyett said. "My end of the race feels really strong. It's my favorite event."
The North Stars finished 15 points ahead of third-placed Neuqua Valley.
"We swam right where we should have," St. Charles North coach Rob Rooney said. "That was positive. They did a very admirable job today."
Grace Samuelson was fifth in the 200 freestyle and fifth in the 100 freestyle. She also swam a leg of the North Stars' victorious 200 freestyle relay. Also in that relay were Loriel Hutchinson, Guyett and Samantha Sauer.
"Some of us, like (Guyett) swam really well," Samuelson said. "Others of us didn't swim poorly, but we're pretty tired right now. Our relays were really good today too."
Teams now start to rest in preparation for the Nov. 16 IHSA sectional meets. This year, both St. Charles teams swim at East's Norris Center pool.
"Today, we were swimming off the enthusiasm because we were very tired," Samuelson said.