PREVIEWING THE COMPETITION
The North Regional proved to be a dominant performance for the Buckeyes from Ohio State. They have several strong newcomers this year that have boosted the competition within the program, with five of the eight scarlet team being former US national team members and the rest coming from Canadian national and Olympic teams and the Italian national team. 2019 solo champion Nikki Dzurko has remained undefeated this season after returning to college from training with the national team in California. The Buckeyes have two duets and two trios that repeatedly finished very close to each other this season. One duet is comprised of the 2019 Champions Dzurko and Laila Huric while the other is made up of 2020 USA Olympic duet alternate Ruby Remati and 2020 Canadian Olympian Emily Armstrong. In an impressive illustration of the growth of collegiate programs, Michigan fielded two teams at North Regionals and has consistently improved its routine scores throughout the season as the squad made several trips to Columbus to bolster its competition resume.
East Regional had a strong showing of teams that haven’t had the opportunity to compete extensively this season including Boston University, University of Pennsylvania and Wheaton College. Boston University and University of Pennsylvania were under one point away from each other in team, with Boston University topping the standings. Boston University and University of Pennsylvania each have a few small routines that went back-to-back in rankings, so fans should be on the lookout to see who pulls ahead at the championship. The crown for East Regional solo champion went to Hannah Halberg of Wheaton College.
South Regionals saw University of Florida, College of William and Mary, University of Richmond and University of Incarnate Word compete against each other for the first time this season. University of Florida, who participated virtually at last year’s championship, had a duet finish just .2 behind TWU’s top routine. The program wasn’t far behind their varsity counterpart in other categories either, finishing close behind with third in solo, fourth in trio and topping the Pioneers in team. Incarnate Word swept the regional championship, with both Cardinal teams within just about two points of each other in first and second place. The Gators will be a club program to watch heading into the championship.
Several strong teams met at the University of Arizona Invitational in the desert as well. The University of Arizona is a program with a rich artistic swimming history and showcased several great routines including a duet of Courtlyn Brent and Sam Stoss and soloist Riley Spring who took third. The trio of Spring, Brent and Emma Thullen also finished just under five points behind Ohio State’s top trios. Grand Canyon University, a newly formed team, also had a fantastic showing including a duet that took fourth and soloist Isabella Montiel who took fourth in the solo standings. Unfortunately, Grand Canyon had to pull out of this year’s national championship but we look forward to seeing the program grow.
Collegiate powerhouses met at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Conference Championship in California in February where Stanford swept all categories. The Cardinal, much like Ohio State, has two very strong trios and duets that finished very close to each other this season. Similar to their Buckeye counterparts, one of their pairs were previous Collegiate Champions with both Jacklyn Luu and Emma Tchakmakjian returning. 2020 Olympian Lindi Schroeder has had a dominant season as their soloist and remains undefeated. UIW finished strong in second and third place in the team category, with just two points between their two teams signifying a stacked roster for the institution. Their soloist, Nour Shamala, took silver just 2.5 points behind Schroeder. Texas Woman’s had a powerful debut. This is the team’s first year competing and they surpassed the 70-point mark with just six swimmers. TWU’s strongest pair of Maribella Falconer and Ashley Latchford finished fourth at the MPSF Championship which was just .4 behind UIW’s Paige Areizaga and Greta Hampson. Wheaton did not compete team but was represented in the smaller routines.
There will also be teams at the championship that haven’t had the opportunity to compete officially yet with travel logistics and pandemic challenges still limiting competitions in some areas of the country and qualification requirements waived for this season.
As an extra treat, fans will get to see performances from the national team on Friday and Saturday as they prepare to head to Paris for the next stop on the FINA World Series tour. The squad will preview the routines that will be showcased on the international circuit this year in Paris, Athens and Budapest.
Fans will have to wait and see what routines and swimmers these programs choose to count towards their overall championship roster. Collegiate teams can select a max of five routines to collect points that count towards the overall championship standings. The event will take place from Friday to Sunday in Columbus. Ticket information, event schedules and draws can be found on the page HERE.