It will be 10 days since the Verona Area/Mount Horeb girls swimming team has competed in a meet when they get on the blocks for the Big Eight Conference meet Saturday in Middleton.

The layoff doesn’t worry Wildcats coach Bill Wuerger, who’s been guiding the swimmers through tapered training. There are 10 girls in the conference tapering group and a core of other swimmers following a sectional tapering training schedule.

“We hope they all swim really fast,” Wuerger said. “For the sectional taper group, their big drops in time are still probably a week away. We just want them to try to swim their best times.”

Middleton, the two-time defending WIAA Division 1 state champions, is looking to win the conference championship for the fourth straight year. The Cardinals have won every swim meet the past three years.

The biggest battle may be for second place behind Middleton.

Wuerger said both Madison West and Sun Prairie are contenders for a top-two finish. The Wildcats could be in the mix for a top-three finish.

“If Madison West brings a lot of divers, they will be tough to beat,” Wuerger said. “It’s a little disadvantage at the end of the season, not having any divers.”

Senior Grace Bennin, a University of Minnesota recruit, is the defending conference champion in the 100-meter breaststroke and 200 individual medley.

“Outside of high school season we race with all of the people from this area.” Bennin said. “Coming together for state, conference and sectionals is really fun to see all your friends from different teams. I think our team is really pulling it together this year and I think it will pay off.”

Wuerger said he’s been having his team swim shorter distances at faster tempo and working more on flip turns.

Wuerger said Bennin (100 breast, 200 IM), senior Sara Stewart in the 100 backstroke, the 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay teams should all be seeded in the top three.