2023 Collegiate Championship Begins Thursday in Illinois

by Alyssa Jacobs, USA Artistic Swimming

The 2023 U.S. Collegiate Championship kicks off Thursday in Westmont, Illinois. Teams representing 13 universities will compete across solo, duet, trio, team and technical divisions to collect points in the hopes of being crowned Overall Institution champions. Last year, the Buckeyes dominated the pool, winning all routine categories and the overall championship. The competition will be fierce this year, as many local and regional meets saw exciting competition between programs. Teams select a certain number of routines to count towards their overall point total in addition to technical categories, with more points being awarded the larger the routine. While impossible to predict exactly what routines collegiate coaches will opt to count towards their total, several athletes have proven themselves on the competition circuit this season and those scores give a good indication of who might be swimming in Saturday’s finals.

Solo: The top two soloists from 2022, two-time solo champion Nikki Dzurko (Ohio State) and 2020 Olympian Lindi Schroeder (Stanford), both return this season. At their last meeting, Dzurko narrowly edged Schroder by just .03. When Schroeder competed against UIW’s top soloist, Mikaelle Gauthier, in early February, Gauthier beat Schroeder by the same amount. It’s setting up to be a classic showdown reminiscent of the 2021 Collegiate Championship where soloists representing the three schools all finished within .3 of each other. Ashley Latchford (TWU), MSPF silver medal soloist, is representing the Pioneers again this season and performing well. Other high-scoring soloists from earlier meets this season that are likely to represent their schools at the championship include Lexi Dodge (Florida), Hannah Halberg (Wheaton), Julia Paradis (Arizona) and Ariana Stanton (UCLA).

Duet: Familiar faces are making their return to the championship and talented freshmen will make their debut. 2023 runners-up Emily Armstrong and Ruby Remati (Ohio State) stuck together as a pair this season after taking second to their more seasoned duet teammates last season. Stanford’s Yara Elian and Schroeder narrowly topped the Buckeye duo at the Stanford Invitational, and no doubt both pairs will be stepping up their game for the championship. Stanford is also fielding another strong duo of freshmen Ivy Davis and Miko Begossi. Gauthier and Abby Remmers (UIW) have both performed exceptionally well in figures this season and utilize that technical excellence in the duet category. They topped the podium at South Regionals but have finished close by the other UIW duets of Nour Shamala and Paige Ariezaga and Camryn Hooey and Elizabeth Battista.

Stanford continues its legacy of dynamite trios with several strong groupings in the trio category. Davis, Begossi and Elian, a group of all freshmen, have already made their mark on the collegiate space, receiving high marks at several meets. Duet powerhouses and 2022 trio champions Armstrong and Remati are teaming up with Hannah Heffernan, who was a part of OSU’s secondary trio last year. The Buckeyes are also represented by Dzurko, Paige Hopper and Emma Spott. UCLA’s trio of Brianna Holmes, Joanna Liu and Ariana Stanton outscored Stanford’s third trio at a prior meet this season and will be newcomers to watch. The trio category is the largest of the weekend and other strong contenders include Remmers/Hooey/Battista (UIW), Goot/Schroeder/Heinrich (Stanford), Nguyen/Tchakmajian/Chang (Stanford) and Areizaga/Bell/Hampson (UIW).

Team: The gold and silver medalists of last season, Ohio State and Stanford, finished extremely close at the Stanford Invitational. Stanford topped the scoresheet .63 ahead of Ohio State after a .5 penalty was placed on the Buckeyes who swam only seven. UIW’s two teams seem to be closing in on each other in point spreads. At last year’s championship, there was a four-point gap between the two squads and that gap was less than one pointat South Regionals. UCLA joins the field of teams for the first time with a strong contingent of athletes and Arizona, Florida, UIW and Ohio State will all be represented by two teams. The full field is rounded out by University of Michigan, Wheaton College, Boston University, Texas Woman’s University and University of Richmond.

For the figure competition, a proven generalization is that athletes selected to compete in smaller routines have demonstrated success this season in figures. Many of the solo and duet athletes have topped the charts in figures as well, proving their strong technical foundation has warranted them a place in additional routines.

Most recently, Stanford University swept the competition at the 2023 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship, a conference made up of a cohort of most varsity artistic swimming teams. Stanford’s roster is filled with freshmen talent, many former national team members or athletes from top club programs.

The south zone collegiate competition has been heating up and increasing in size. At South Regionals, UIW took the crown in the region followed by University of Florida and Texas Woman’s University. Last season, TWU made its collegiate debut as a program. This season, UIW is led by first-year collegiate coach Alyson Haylor who has already made an impact on the program, leading UIW to close finishes with Stanford University. The Gators, a club team, have continued to climb the rankings and recruit great south zone talent. Last season, they ended just behind TWU in almost every category but could be making strides to jump in placements.

Of course, the reigning national champions are also very much in the conversation. Many of the Buckeyes’ routines are made up of returning athletes from last year’s championship roster. Five of the eight Scarlet Buckeyes listed on the start list are returning top-team veterans and only one is a freshman.

Stanford University: Hailee Heinrich, Ava Jih-Schiff, Audrey Nguyen, Emily Brieant
The Ohio State University: Nikki Dzurko, Rose Homoelle, Paige Hopper, Olivia Malloy, Reverie Nedde, Trinity Patton, Olivia Schafer
University Of Arizona: Riley Spring, Hope McCain-Holt
University of Florida: Astrid Ericson, Piper Roppelt, Medina Toussaint, Jordan Sweeney
University of Incarnate Word: Claire Ermer, Greta Hampson, Nour Shamala, Adora Kruger, Leah Sterling, Hannah Ray, Sofia Puchniak
University Of Michigan: Anishka Taneja
University Of Pennsylvania: Jade Margolis, Angela Lao, Mary Elizabeth Greeley
Wheaton College: Sydney Mcclaren, Kelsey Dolack

Important to note this year is that the collegiate programs
elected to delay the implementation of the new artistic scoring system to next season. They will keep the same rules and manner of judging as previous years to give coaches more time to adapt to the system. All routines in collegiate competitions are free routines. For more information, including event schedules and results, please visit the 2023 Collegiate Championship event page. 

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