A murmur of excitement and anticipation swept through the balcony Saturday night at the Northern division of the Southwestern swimming and diving championships at Davan Pool in Westbrook.

Spectators caught sight of the four girls from Greely High grabbing their goggles and striding to the starting blocks for the meet-ending 400-yard freestyle relay.

Hey, look at this.

Did you see who he put in the relay?

They’re going for it!

State records rarely fall outside of the state championships meets, but the relay mark set by a Cape Elizabeth quartet in 2002 was about to go down. Had Greely not enjoyed a sizeable cushion over the other 10 schools in the meet, Coach Rob Hale might have deployed his fab four in different fashion, spreading them out to maximize point potential.

Instead he sent Sarah Easterling, Katie Whittum, Megan Stroud and Sara Schad to the deep end of the pool and told them to go for it.

A year ago, Easterling, Stroud, Schad and Taylor Roach had come within two seconds of the 3-minute, 41.28-second standard set by Emily Caras, Emilie Youmans, Taylor McFarlane and Whitney Rockwell.

Now with Whittum replacing the graduated Roach, the Rangers set their sights on the record.

Easterling led off – about 10 minutes after holding off Genevieve Worthley of Deering and Samantha Savaun of Cheverus in a breast stroke battle that saw all three finish under 1:10 – and left the rest of the field in her wake.

She touched the wall after 100 yards in 54.09 seconds, a school record.

Only one other girl in the state had gone below 55.5 in the 100 free all winter and she was waiting to jump in and swim the anchor leg.

Whittum and Stroud added to Greely’s lead and then gave way to Schad as noise in the claustrophobic natatorium jumped to what seemed like jet-engine levels.

“It was quite loud at the end there,” said Hale with his typically droll understatement.

Schad’s final 100 was timed in 53.49 – only opening relay legs are admissible for individual records – and stopped the clock more than a half-second below the 9-year-old relay record. The record, thanks to the girls of Greely, is 3:40.61.

Falmouth Coach Dave Cox called it the most impressive swim of the meet.

Hale said he was glad he hadn’t needed to split them up to cover other relays.

“It was probably their only shot at doing it,” he said. “We may have to break them up (in Saturday’s Class B state championship meet). Or at the end of a long day, they may not have the energy to do it.”

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS from the traditional springboard to the state meets for Greater Portland swimmers and divers:

Nicola Mancini of Falmouth won diving with 394.20 points – only eight shy of the meet record.

Kathryn Violette of Westbrook won girls’ swimmer of the meet by holding off Schad of Greely in the butterfly and cruising to victory in the backstroke as well.

Worthley, a Deering sophomore, edged Samantha Couillard of Scarborough in the 200 individual medley before finishing second to Easterling in the breast stroke with a time (1:09.21) faster than any other in Class A this winter.

Shaun Lamoureux of Falmouth held off a pair of Cape Elizabeth swimmers – Evan Long in the 100 free and Marcus Cloutier in the 200 free — by .07 and .08, respectively, to win boys’ swimmer of the meet.

Cloutier won the demanding individual medley in 2:03.39 – only the second time any Maine schoolboy has done better than 2:05 this winter.

Greely’s girls won their second Southwesterns team title in succession.

Greely’s boys won their third team title in four years, after Scarborough interrupted the streak last February.

 Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: [email protected]