2021 U.S. Collegiate Championship Preview
by Alyssa Jacobs, USA Artistic Swimming
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Three collegiate teams will meet on Thursday for the first day of the 2021 U.S. Collegiate Nationals in Stanford, Calif.. Despite the obstacles, the three varsity programs were fortunate enough to be fully supported by their athletic departments in the pursuit of a championship this season. Stanford University, University of Incarnate Word and The Ohio State University will go head-to-head at Avery Aquatic Center to compete in a finals-only matchup with safety measures in place to ensure a successful and safe event that will air live on our website. While the numerous collegiate club programs across the country will be missed this season, we look forward to welcoming them back to our championships in the future.
ROUTINE PREVIEWS - WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Competing in the trio category will be Grace Alwan, Ava Jih-Schiff, and Alexandra Suarez (Stanford), Ava Lichter, Renee Stehlik and Daria Torba (Ohio State), Hailee Heinrich, Audrey Nguyen and Caitlin Klauer (Stanford), Juliana Damico, Greta Hampson and Natalie Lagrone (UIW), Camryn Carrasco, Rose Homoelle and Rachel Jager (Ohio State) and Natalie Greenfield, Sophia Susac and Sabrina Walsh (Stanford). Heinrich, Klauer and Nguyen have proven to be dominant forces for Stanford, taking first at all but one meet and registering a season-high score of 83.5667 in their home pool on senior day. They were topped just once at the Small Routine Virtual Invitational by the Buckeye trio of Carrasco, Homoelle and Jager.
Five team routines will grace the pool with two routines representing the Buckeyes, two for the Cardinals of UIW and one from Stanford. This will be the first time Ohio State competes their team routines. In the meetings between Stanford and UIW this season, Stanford has been undefeated.
Six soloists will showcase their technical skills and artistry including Natalia Vega (UIW), Jacklyn Luu (Stanford), and Camryn Carrasco, Laila Huric, Olivia Malloyand Olivia Schafer (Ohio State). This will be a particularly interesting category given that when UIW and Stanford met twice in-person this season, they split the solo category. Vega and Luu were one point apart at their first meet before they traded placements and widened the gap to 1.83. During the Small Routine Virtual Invitational earlier in the season, Luu narrowly edged Huric for first by just .07.
Finally, seven routines will compete for the duet championship. These athletes include Natalie Greenfield and Emily Brieant (Stanford), Rachel Jager and Cassie Neeley (Ohio State), Emmanuella Tchakmakjian and Jacklyn Luu (Stanford), Greta Hampson and Natalie Langrone (Stanford), Caitlin Klauer and Natalie Heinrich (Stanford), Juliana Damico and Natalie Vega (UIW) and Paige Hopper and Laila Huric (Ohio State). Hopper and Huric registered a 81.6667 to top Luu and freshman Emma Tchakmakjian earlier this season at the Small Routine Virtual Invitational by a thin margin of just .0334. A UIW and Stanford duet tied for first at another meet.
Collegiate artistic swimming athletes have not had the opportunity to compete on the national stage since March of 2019. This year’s competition will also be special due to the decision by Stanford to cut 11 varsity programs at the end of this season. Consequently, it will be Stanford University Synchro’s last season competing as a varsity program. Stanford has been the overall champion at every meet this season (Virtual Technical Invitational, Small Routine Virtual Invitational, Stanford v. Incarnate Word and Incarnate Word v. Stanford).
ALL-TIME CHAMPIONSHIPS - WHO WILL BE NEXT?
Since 1977, Ohio State has been the all-time leader in Overall Institution Championships, amassing 32 and winning the last three in a row.Stanford follows with eight total championships with their most dominant record coming from 2005-2008 when they collected four in a row and their most recent crown in 2016. Stanford’s last individual titles came in 2018 when they claimed the solo and trio categories. At the last Collegiate Championship, the Buckeyes took all four category championships.