It depends on the athlete. Every team except Kenyon has swimmers who aren’t looking at Nationals as a serious possibility. To them, the season climaxes in February, and so a conference championship would be more of a thrill. If they’re fortunate enough to make Nationals, then they’ll work hard for a month, but then have no shot at making it back.
It also depends on the conference. 3 years ago winning the BMC was a thrill. But the past two years it’s been a foregone conclusion, and not terribly exciting, more like a relief.