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COLUMBUS, Ohio In its bid to win its 25th U.S. Collegiate National title, the Ohio State synchronized swimming team is off to an encouraging start as it swept the top spot in all three small routine semifinals Thursday at the Josh Davis Natatorium in San Antonio, Texas. Despite submitting just four entrants total in the solo, duet and trio, the Buckeyes have outdistanced the competition by an average of 1.3 points.

The Top 12 finishers advance to the finals, which will begin at 11:30 a.m. ET Saturday with the trio event, followed by the solo, duet and team finals.

Figures competition will begin at 9:35 a.m. ET Friday, with the team semifinal getting underway at 5:35 p.m. ET. In the 32-year history of collegiate nationals, the Buckeyes have won the team routine 26 times, including capturing the title in 2008 in their home pool of McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion.

The 2009 edition of the championships began with the solo competition and junior Barbara Nesbitt topped the list with a 93.500, outdistancing her nearest opponent by two points. This time last year, Nesbitt, a native of Riverside, Calif., was in third place with an average score of 91.833. Nesbitt is hoping to win Ohio State’s first solo crown since 2003 when Victoria Bowen (2001-03) captured the title.

It was a closer affair in duet as the tandem of Becky Kim and Meghan Kinney scored a 93.500 to beat Stanford’s Maria Korolev and Olivia Morgan by one point (92.500) for first place. Kim and Kinney, members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team, are seeking the Scarlet and Gray’s first duet championship since 2004. That year, Kim paired with Kate Hooven (2004), also a 2008 U.S. Olympian, for the title.

Ohio State maintained its dominance in trio with a 1-2 finish. A 92.667 was enough for first for the group of Nesbitt, Deborah Shim and Michelle Theriault. They beat out teammates Carmen Moraes, Caitlin Stewart and Kinney by one point (91.667) for the top spot. Although their average is slightly down from a year ago, the Buckeye trio of Nesbitt, Shim and Theriault own the lead over rival Stanford by nearly a point and are looking to bring the trio crown back to Columbus. The last time Ohio State won this small routine was in 2006 behind Ellen Hacker (2004-05, 2007), Kim and Moraes.

The 33rd-annual U.S. Collegiate Synchronized Swimming Championships is an open-class meet, combining competition from NCAA Divisions I, II, and III and NAIA colleges and universities. More than 200 of the top athletes from the collegiate scene are competing for titles in the solo, duet, trio and team events.

2009 U.S. Collegiate National Championships
March 26, 2009
Josh Davis Natatorium
San Antonio, Texas

Solo Semifinals (Top 5)
1. Barbara Nesbitt (Ohio State) 93.500
2. Natalia Tarasova (Canisius College) 91.500
3. Lyssa Wallace (Incarnate Word) 91.333
4. Yulia Shepeleva (Canisius College) 91.000
5. Devah Leenheer (Lindenwood) 87.667

Duet Semifinals (Top 5)
1. Meghan Kinney, Becky Kim (Ohio State) 93.500
2. Maria Koroleva, Olivia Morgan (Stanford) 92.500
3. Natalia Tarasova, Yulia Shepeleva (Canisius College) 92.333
4. Taylor Durand, Debbie Chen (Stanford) 91.500
5. Margareta Jakovac, Meryl Grandia (Alabama Birmingham) 90.000

Trio Semifinals (Top 5)
1. Barbara Nesbitt, Deborah Shim, Michelle Theriault (Ohio State) 92.667 
2. Carmen Moraes, Caitlin Stewart, Meghan Kinney (Ohio State) 91.667
3. Taylor Durand, Maria Koroleva, Olivia Morgan (Stanford) 91.500
4. Erin Bell, Debbie Chen, Michelle Moore (Stanford) 90.500
5. Lyssa Wallace, Saki Fujise, Molly Knight (Incarnate Word) 89.833