September 27, 2021

Alumni Reunite To Celebrate and Honor Dr. Mary Jo Ruggieri


Ohio State artistic synchronized swimming alumni came together, both virtually and in person, this weekend for the program’s annual alumni weekend celebration. The gathering included a celebration of the life of former head coach Dr. Mary Jo Ruggieri and the team’s annual Sync Cancer fundraiser.


Dr. Mary Jo Ruggieri Celebration of Life

During a brunch on Saturday morning, Buckeye artistic synchronized swimming alumnae gathered to hear from current members of the team on the state of the program and had the opportunity to memorialize beloved former head coach Dr. Mary Jo Ruggieri, who passed away in March of 2020.

The founder of Ohio State artistic synchronized swimming, Mary Jo started the program in 1977 after leading the club team since 1970. She coached the varsity squad for 19 years until retiring in 1995. She led the Buckeyes to 17 Overall Institution U.S. Collegiate National Championships, including an 11-year streak to close her collegiate coaching career.

But Mary Jo is not just remembered for the number of championships she won in the pool. A champion for women in athletics, she was a coach, mentor and friend to many at Ohio State and in the greater artistic synchronized swimming community.

“Our Buckeye family grew closer this weekend, as we gathered to celebrate and honor the life of Dr. Mary Jo Ruggieri. Mary Jo’s lasting impact on the lives of the women she coached could be felt in their shared stories, laughter and memories.  This year’s alumni reunion truly connected the past, present and future of Ohio State artistic synchronized swimming as the 2022 student-athletes were able to meet the women who paved the way for us all.”

Suzanna Hyatt, Ohio State associate head coach

Ninth Annual Sync Cancer Pelotonia Swim

Sunday marked the ninth year of Ohio State’s Sync Cancer Pelotonia swim held annually to raise funds for The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. Created to honor former Buckeye Emily Marsh Fleming’s battle with breast cancer, the fundraiser saw 50 alumni and friends of the program in attendance for the event.

This year, the event has raised $3,420 and funds are still being collected. As of Monday, the overall total donated to the cause in nine years of the event is $54,660.

Fleming, who was a member of the Ohio State team from 1994-97, lost her battle with cancer in March of 2014. Before her passing, Fleming was passionate about creating an event that would support the fight against all forms of cancer. Together, Fleming and the coaching staff crafted their own version of the Pelotonia bike challenge that she loved. The event has grown tremendously since its inaugural year, and the goals have increased incrementally with each event’s success.

“After not being able to host an in-person gathering in 2020, our Sync Cancer event on Sunday was truly special! Although smaller in size, the huge hearts and passion of those who attended matched our team’s strong commitment to honor event founder, forever teammate Emily Marsh Fleming, and ‘Sync Cancer’ for good!”

– Holly Vargo Brown, Ohio State head coach

Support Ohio State Synchronized Swimming Initiatives

Synchronized Swimming Program Support Fund | Fund Number: 312885

Funds will be used to support the activities of the synchronized swimming program including, but not limited to travel expenses and purchases of & equipment supplies

Donate to Sync Cancer

Join the Ohio State synchronized swimming team, in raising money for the Team Buckeye Peloton.Our team is committed to contribute to the Pelotonia efforts by hosting an unusual version of a peloton, doing what we do best.....SWIM!