COLUMBUS, Ohio Highlighted by the Scarlet team’s season-high tying 97.333 for gold, the Ohio State synchronized swimming team won its 25th U.S. Collegiate National championship Saturday at the Josh Davis Natatorium in San Antonio, Texas.

It had been five years since the Buckeyes had captured the coveted title and after winning three of four events in the finals, the Scarlet and Gray scored an impressive 98 points to outdistance second-place finisher Stanford (80) by 18 points. Rounding out the Top 3 was Canisius College, which scored 76.5 points.

It is Linda Lichter-Witter’s eighth collegiate national title since becoming the Buckeyes’ head coach in 1996. Lichter-Witter concludes her 14th season at the helm of the Buckeyes with a career-record of 550-18-1 (.967).

Following the championships, senior Becky Kim was named United States Synchronized Swimming Collegiate Athlete of the Year.  

The Scarlet team, which was entering the championships as the defending team routine national champions, put the cap on an impressive championships for the Buckeyes when it scored a 97.333 for first place and the repeat. Barbara Nesbitt, Deborah Shim, Michelle Theriault, Jayme DeLancy, Carmen Moraes, Caitlin Stewart, Jillian Penner and Becky Kim make up the 2009 team routine national champions.

The Buckeye Gray squad of Kendra Sollars, Liz Derr, Rita Gillan, Jackie Mundy, Hannah Shively, Emilie Siemer, Lauren Robinson and Katherine Green finished two points behind its teammates with 95.333 points for third in the team routine competition.

The final day of the 2009 championships began with the small routines and both Ohio State trios finished in a tie for first to capture the first gold medal of the day for the Scarlet and Gray. Nesbitt, Shim and Theriault were the first Buckeye group to perform and executed a 94.667. Not to be outdone, Moraes, Stewart and Kinney showcased a routine worthy of a 94.667 as well. It is the Buckeyes’ first trio championship since 2006 when Ellen Hacker (2004-05, 2007), Kim and Moraes won the title in Stanford, Calif.

Up next was the duet competition and 2008 U.S. Olympians Kim and Kinney proved why they represented the United States in Beijing when they recorded a first-place mark of 95.333, a tie for the Ohio State season-high. Before Saturday, Ohio State had not won the duet title since 2004. Kim paired with Kate Hooven (2004), also a 2008 U.S. Olympian, for the crown in Ann Arbor, Mich.

After finishing first in the solo semifinal Thursday, Nesbitt was a silver medalist Saturday, scoring a 94.667, just .333 points behind Natalia Tarasova of Canisius College.

Although the collegiate season is completed, members of the Ohio State squad will continue competing in April when they travel to Palo Alto, Calif., for the U.S. Senior National championships April 30-May 2.

2009 U.S. Collegiate National Championships
March 26-28, 2009
Josh Davis Natatorium
San Antonio, Texas

High Point Team Champion Standings
1. Ohio State   98.0
2. Stanford 80.0
3. Canisius College 76.5
4. Incarnate Word 66.5
5. Alabama-Birmingham 56.0

Team Final (Top 5)
1. Barbara Nesbitt, Deborah Shim, Michelle Theriault, Jayme DeLancy, Carmen Moraes, Caitlin Stewart, Jillian Penner, Becky Kim (Ohio State) 97.333
2. Erin Bell, Alex Bollaidlaw, Debbie Chen, Taylor Durand, Maria Koroleva, Michelle Moore, Olivia Morgan, Corinne Smith (Stanford) 96.333
3. Kendra Sollars, Liz Derr, Rita Gillan, Jackie Mundy, Hannah Shively, Emilie Siemer, Lauren Robinson, Katherine Green (Ohio State) 95.333
4.  Lyssa Wallace, Saki Fujise, Molly Knight, Vanessa Calle, Seyeon Min, Alex Stensby, Anna Nelson, Hannah Creaser (Incarnate Word) 93.500
4.  Margareta Jakovac, Meryl Grandia, Brittany McCauley, Stephanie Cardwell, Georgia Luch, Jami Schwendau, Michele Rushfeldt, Shaina Boe (Alabama-Birmingham) 92.833

Solo Final (Top 5)
1. Natalia Tarasova (Canisius College) 95.000
2. Barbara Nesbitt (Ohio State) 94.667
3. Yulia Shepeleva (Canisius College) 92.833
4. Lyssa Wallace (Incarnate Word) 92.500
5.Alicia Sepulveda (Arizona Splashcats) 88.167

Duet Final (Top 5)
1. Meghan Kinney, Becky Kim (Ohio State) 95.333
2. Natalia Tarasova, Yulia Shepeleva (Canisius College) 94.500
3. Taylor Durand, Debbie Chen (Stanford) 93.167
4. Margareta Jakovac, Meryl Grandia (Alabama Birmingham) 92.167
5. Maria Koroleva, Olivia Morgan (Stanford) 92.000

Trio Finals (Top 5)
1. Barbara Nesbitt, Deborah Shim, Michelle Theriault (Ohio State) 94.667 
1. Carmen Moraes, Caitlin Stewart, Meghan Kinney (Ohio State) 94.667
3. Taylor Durand, Maria Koroleva, Olivia Morgan (Stanford) 93.500
4. Erin Bell, Debbie Chen, Michelle Moore (Stanford) 91.833
5. Lyssa Wallace, Saki Fujise, Molly Knight (Incarnate Word) 90.833