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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State synchronized swimming team will begin the 2011 campaign at 6 p.m. Saturday when it hosts Michigan at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. The two-time defending U.S. Collegiate champions, the Buckeyes will debut their new solo, duet and trio routines.

A Stellar 2010
Last season the Scarlet and Gray capped off another great year by winning the 2010 U.S. Collegiate Championships in Palo Alto, Ca. The team not only won the overall team title, but the Buckeyes also earned first and third-place finishes in the trio competition, a first-place finish in the duet and a second-place finish in the solo competition. Ohio State also won its 20th North Regional championship in as many years. Top finishes in the solo and duet and a first and second-place finish in the trio sealed the victory.

A Who’s Who – Current All-Americans
The Buckeyes return a trio of All-Americans for the 2011 season in Paige Ramsey, Deborah Shim and Michelle Theriault. Shim and Theriault are seeking an impressive feat in attempting to become four-time All-Americans as they earned the honor in 2008, ’09 and ’10. In all, Ohio State has had 21 four-time All-Americans, including recent letterwinners Barbara Nesbitt (2007-10) and Caitlin Stewart (2007-10).

Among those four-time honorees, five are members of the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame – Karen Callaghan, Becky Jasontek, Karen and Sarah Josephson and Emily Marsh.

Twin City
Julia and Natalie Gaylard are the fourth set of twins part of the Buckeyes’ history. Julia and Natalie, natives of Edmonton, Alberta, join Karen and Sarah Josephson, who lettered for the Buckeyes from 1982-85. Carolina and Isabela Moraes swam for Ohio State from 1999-02 and Leah (2005-08) and Leayn Pinette (2005-06) were part of the Buckeye program starting in 2005. 

Small World
While swimming for Indy Synchro, freshman Chelsea Aton was coached by former Buckeye Stephanie Raftery, who lettered at Ohio State from 2003-06.

The connections don’t end there. Freshmen Tori Hawes and Lauren Nicholson, as well as senior Michelle Theriault and sophomore Paige Ramsey, were coached by Sue Nesbitt as members of the Riverside Aquettes in California. Sue Nesbitt is the mother of Barbara Nesbitt, who was a four-time All-American for the Scarlet and Gray from 2007-10.  

In her Footsteps
Freshman Tori Hawes’ mother, Irene, was a Buckeye synchronized swimming letterwinner from 1978-80. Irene currently serves as a USA A-Rank judge as well.

Team Meghan
Meghan Kinney, who lettered for the Buckeyes in 2009 and 2010, was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma this past fall.

Kinney, an alternate at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was training in Colorado Springs with fellow Buckeye Michelle Theriault and the two were well on their way to representing the U.S. National Team at the 2012 Olympics. Just an idea of the duo’s talent, they finished fifth at the FINA World Cup in September 2010. Kinney also is a natural leader, serving as captain of the U.S. National Team.

Since returning to Columbus, many of Kinney’s Buckeye teammates have constantly been at her side. A web site, www.teammeghan.com, has been created to help Meghan and her family cope with this challenge. 

“Having been a cancer survivor myself, Meghan and I have a whole new relationship now,” head coach Linda Lichter-Witter said. “I want to help her find her dreams and channel all this amazing talent she has into new dreams and pursuits. Having everyone’s support has been amazing.”

Additionally, the Miami RedHawk hockey team held a jersey auction earlier this month to help off-set some of the medical expenses. Megan’s father, Paul, was a member of the Miami hockey team from 1978-80.

U.S. Senior National Championships
Ohio State will host the 2011 U.S. Senior National Championships April 15th-17th. The Buckeyes and McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion are no strangers to hosting premier synchronized swimming championships as they hosted the U.S. Collegiate National championships in 2008, 2000, 1990, 1987 and 1982.

A Breakdown of the Buckeyes
Following the exit of eight seniors from a year ago, Ohio State is a young team with 11 freshmen. Completing the team are six sophomores, a trio of juniors and seniors.

McCorkle
Dedicated Oct. 14, 2005, the Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion is one of the finest competition pools in the nation.

The Pavilion consists of the Mike Peppe Natatorium and the Ron O’Brien Diving Well. The Peppe Natatorium, named for the former Ohio State head coach, features a 50-meter competition pool and 1,750 spectator seating. The O’Brien Diving Well consists of 3-centerline towers and the ability to have 1- and 3-meter springboards on all four sides of the well. Holding nearly 1.56 million gallons of water in the entire facility, the Pavilion is part of Ohio State’s Recreation and Physical Activities Center (RPAC).

Head Coach Linda Lichter-Witter
Linda Lichter-Witter is entering her 16th season as head coach of the Buckeyes. Her impressive 589-21-1 record speaks to her hard work and dedication. Lichter-Witter-led teams have either become national runners-up or, more often than not, national champions. In all, the Buckeyes have won nine national championships and have been runners-up six other times. As only the second coach of the varsity squad at Ohio State, Lichter-Witter started with and maintains excellence with her teams and has secured Ohio State’s mark as one of the best collegiate synchronized swimming teams year in and year out.

All in the Family
Every morning during the season, head coach Linda Lichter-Witter heads to the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion before 6 a.m. for practice. Likewise, on another part of campus, the Buckeyes’ director of football performance plans to meet with various members of the squad for their workouts.

Waking up early is one of the many things Eric Lichter learned from his mother.

Lichter-Witter will begin her 16th season at the helm of the Buckeyes and just completed a season where she led the team to its 26th U.S. Collegiate National title. Lichter, who just completed his sixth season with the football program, capped 2010 with a Big Ten title and a Sugar Bowl championship.

When looking toward the future, Lichter-Witter’s plans include a beach and being a grandmother to her grandchildren Tyler, Ava and Taurian. Her son still has one ultimate goal. “I would like to win a national title here,” Lichter said. Something his mom has already done – nine times. For the rest of the story, click HERE.

Up Next
The Buckeyes will host the annual Jessica Beck Memorial Meet at 2 p.m. Feb. 5.