2023 Convention Concludes in Pennsylvania, Several Award Recipients Honored
by Alyssa Jacobs, USA Artistic Swimming
The annual convention wrapped up Saturday in King of Prussia, Penn. Over 175 attendees comprised of coaches, officials and athletes gathered to recap the stellar 2023 season, participate in enriching development sessions, take care of governance and build community. Content included meetings covering DEI, discussion around the new scoring system and educational sessions on eating disorders. One of the highlights of the weekend was a moving keynote speech by Pac-12 Coach of the Century and breast cancer survivor Valorie Kondos Field. The event is capped by the annual awards ceremony where particularly deserving individuals are recognized for their outstanding contributions for the year. Candidates are nominated by the community and final winners are decided upon by the awards committee.
The highest honor in USA Artistic Swimming, the Lillian MacKellar Distinguished Service Award, was presented to Scotti Nichols from Michigan. Scotti has been involved with artistic swimming for almost 60 years, first as a competitor, then serving in various official posts for the entirety of her years in the sport. Her passion and love for the sport have always been evident and she has lent her many skills in countless ways through the years. She is generous with her time, helping with meet management in numerous ways, as a judge, referee, Association technical chair, assisting with scoring, coaching, or giving aid in whichever post she is needed. She has donated to the Foundation since 1985. Scotti has given of herself for nearly six decades – working graciously, diligently, and quietly without concern for self or in need of praise or thanks and always for the benefit of the athlete.
In the Hall of Fame category, Linda Lichter-Witter was nominated as a HOF Contributor for her many years at developing athletes at all levels of the sport. In her 60 years, Linda has been an impactful coach for many clubs, and even a few Olympic and national teams, and an official giving back to the sport. Notably, during her tenure at Ohio State, her teams won 12 Overall High Point championships, which included 14 trio titles, 12 duet titles and six solo titles. Linda also coached and developed 125 All-American athletes. In 2004, Linda was the assistant coach of the USA Olympic Team that garnered two bronze medals at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
Andrea Nott was inducted into the USAAS Hall of Fame as an athlete. Nott has spent the last 32 years of her life involved in the sport. From the time she was a small child until her Olympic debut, Andrea was described to have brought smiles to every team she worked on or with. This sunny disposition disguised the tenacity that was revealed when she narrowly missed making the 2004 Olympic team. Regardless of the setback, she continued to pursue her dream. This required considerable sacrifice, but the results were spectacular. She not only secured a position on the 2008 Olympic duet and team but also represented the United States with partner Christina Jones at the Pan American games bringing home the gold in both events. Andrea and Christina went on to place 5th at the Olympic games in Bejing and along with their teammates finished 5th in team as well. From the time she was ten to her retirement after Beijing, Andrea won 14 team titles in domestic and international competition. She was always a finalist in solo and most of the time found herself on the podium in duet. One of the more thrilling wins aside from the double gold at the 2007 Pan Ams was the 2006 Trophy Cup Gold medal in combo when Team USA beat Russia. Andrea has also served as an athlete representative at the zone and national level.
Developmental Coach of the Year was awarded to Jing Li from Blue Legend Artistic Swimming. She started her club just three years ago and has already increased the club to 60 athletes. Her athletes have performed exceptionally well in the club’s three-year existence, but especially this year in the 12U age group at our national championships and the Pan Am Artistic Swimming Championships.
Coach of the Year was given to Tammy McGreggor from the Walnut Creek Aquanuts. Not only does she consistently develop extraordinary athletes that continue to achieve great feats domestically, but many also continue their careers on our national teams and collegiately. Perhaps her most widespread impact is felt through her work chairing the World Aquatics Artistic Swimming Coaches Committee. Her intense knowledge and passion for the sport have solidified her as a leader for our community navigating the new rule changes and her expertise has benefitted nearly every athlete whom she evaluated as a technical controller at our championships this season.
Megumi Field was named the 2023 Athlete of the Year. At a young age, Field stepped up on the senior squad and served as duet and team athlete for two years. She helped the USA to excellence this competition season, putting in extra hours in the pool and commuting one hour to practice and nearly two hours home in LA traffic while attending online high school. Her work ethic and attitude are off the charts and she is hungry to grow and progress in the sport. She has won numerous World Cup medals, a bronze World medal in the technical team and has been instrumental in helping the team climb the international rankings. Outside of her technical ability, Megumi is adored by everyone who meets her, treating her competitors with respect and her teammates with unwavering support.
The USA Artistic Swimming award given to an individual or organization outside of the sport of artistic swimming for exceptional contributions was awarded to Matt Nichols and Kenny Kane from Crossfit LA. Matt and Kenny have been instrumental in the achievements of our national team athletes by helping our senior athletes develop physically in a way that is unique and has resulted in great success. However, they also go above and beyond the expectations that are placed on them and prepare our athletes to be strong mentally. Finally, Visit Hampton was the recipient of the Community Service Award for their work in helping to host the 2023 Junior Olympic Championship at the brand-new Hampton Aquaplex.
Lea Bean contributed to this article through her nominations that include extensive archival information on the recipients.