St. Charles East swimmer Jordan Morling had a great state meet last November.
She didn’t realize just how great until afterward.
Morling, a sophomore transfer from Virginia, won four medals and had a hand in two school records. She swam on the fifth-place 200-yard medley relay that broke the school record and later came back and took fourth in the 100 backstroke.
Morling’s backstroke time of 56.06 established a new school record and secured the Saints’ highest finish in that event since Gretchen Verdoorn won it in 1993.
“I honestly didn’t even know what the school record was, so it wasn’t even on my radar,” Morling said. “I didn’t expect it at all but it’s definitely an honor.”
Now a junior, Morling is coming off a good club season and is expected to contend for the state title in the backstroke and a top-six finish in the 200 individual medley, a race she placed ninth in last season.
“I know she’s going to improve,” St. Charles East coach Joe Cabel said. “We’d like her to move up and contend and she could. She’s definitely got a shot to win state.”
The backstroke is different from every other stroke in that competitors are looking up, not down. Why is Morling so proficient at it?
“I don’t know,” Morling said. “I used to be a flyer and then all of a sudden my fly hit a plateau and my backstroke took off.
“There are still a lot of things for me to work on but I like everything about the backstroke. I like being able to turn my arms over, kick my legs and do my underwaters.”
“She’s a natural backstroker,” Cabel said. “She enjoys coming to practice and she has an incredibly good mental attitude.”
That sunny disposition comes across in interviews and seemingly never wavers even after 10 years in the sport.
“I’ve had my ups and downs along the way but I love having my friends there,” Morling said. “I like talking between sets. The people get me through the practices.”
At meets, however, Morling uses determination to get the best of the competition.
This is especially useful in the individual medley, which comprises all four strokes.
“I love every stroke,” Morling said. “Freestyle is definitely a weakness for me but at the end of the race, you’re still going to gut it out even if you’re not very good.”
Morling’s goals are focused more on time than place. She wants to break 55 seconds in the backstroke this season and get under 54 as a senior and knows those times could bring her a title.
“A top three finish in the backstroke would be awesome,” Morling said. “I would love to be a state champion.”