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Collegiate Programs Join Mountain Pacific Sports Federation

By Darren Preston, Mountain Pacific Sports Federation | Sept. 16, 2021, 2:30 p.m. (ET)

The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) has announced the addition of its record-tying 11th active sport, when women’s artistic swimming joins the conference beginning with the upcoming 2022 season. The MPSF also featured 11 sports during three academic years from 2010-13. The addition of artistic swimming marks the second sport in the last six weeks, and in the last 11 years, to be added to the conference. The MPSF officially welcomed in fencing in early August, the first sport in the conference to jump on board since the 2010 inception of swimming and diving. The MPSF will be the only conference in the country to sponsor artistic swimming during the 2022 season.

USA Artistic Swimming is the national governing body for collegiate artistic swimming. “USAAS is proud to support its member institutions that are joining the MPSF,” says USAAS Chief Executive Officer Adam Andrasko. “In addition to providing more opportunities to compete, the MPSF offers an opportunity to grow. USAAS will work with MPSF schools that may be interested in adding artistic swimming to grow the sport at the collegiate level. Thanks to MPSF leadership for the opportunity and welcome to the USAAS family.”

The inaugural MPSF Artistic Swimming season will feature Stanford University, Wheaton College, the University of the Incarnate Word, and Texas Woman’s University. The 2022 MPSF Championship will be held at Stanford, February 12-13. The Lyons and Pioneers each will be first-time members in the MPSF. The Cardinals, along with their fencing program, are also making their debut in the conference. Stanford, meanwhile, has been an MPSF member in numerous sports since the conference’s initial season of 1992. The Cardinal currently competes in six MPSF sports, more than any other university.

We are extremely excited to welcome in artistic swimming to the MPSF,” says first year MPSF Executive Director Foti Mellis. “This sport has been incredibly successful around the globe including its strong Olympic background. In collaboration with our national governing body USA Artistic Swimming, the MPSF looks forward to supporting our programs and further developing the sport.”

This past April in its own Avery Aquatic Center, Stanford claimed its ninth national championship in program history. The Cardinal also captured titles in 2016, 2013, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 1999 and 1998. Stanford is also one of just three teams in the nation to sweep first-place at the collegiate nationals in the solo, duet, trio, team, and overall competitions.

UIW placed seven student-athletes on the 2020 All-American list. Then, in a modified 2021 season which featured a series of virtual meets, the Cardinals competed in the national meet at Stanford where they placed third. While there, UIW garnered a Tech B title and a Collegiate Athlete of the Year award.

Wheaton, an NCAA Division-III program from Norton, Massachusetts, is the only varsity team on the east coast and has the longest-running program in the country. The Lyons’ synchronized swimming program was established in 1941. In 2019, Wheaton turned in a fifth-place national finish and recorded its fifth-straight regional title.  

Texas Woman’s, an NCAA Division-II school, announced the startup of its program in the summer of 2019. The Pioneers are coached by Sara Lilly, a two-time national championship coach and two-time USA Synchro Coach of the Year while leading the Stanford program. She was also a student-athlete on four-straight national championship teams with an All-American honor each year at Stanford (2005-08).

The addition of artistic swimming brings the current total to 35 institutions and 68 teams, across 12 states, competing in the MPSF. This past Spring, the conference reached a milestone of 100 total NCAA Division-I Team Championships dating back to its initial season in 1992-93. Further MPSF Artistic Swimming information will be forthcoming on the conference website at mpsports.org and on the sport’s upcoming MPSF twitter page.