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Ohio State synchronized swimming ready for next routine after 29th national title

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Members of the OSU synchronized swimming team compete in the U.S. Collegiate National Championships on March 28 at McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. The Buckeyes clinched their 29th national title in program history. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor

Members of the OSU synchronized swimming team compete in the U.S. Collegiate National Championships on March 28 at McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. The Buckeyes clinched their 29th national title in program history.
Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor

The Ohio State women’s synchronized swim team made history this past weekend by winning its 29th U.S. Collegiate National Championship on its own turn at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. While the championship brings an end to the 2015 season, the offseason isn’t necessarily a break.

Coach Holly Vargo-Brown admitted she woke up the day after OSU picked up its title wondering what routines the Buckeyes would pull together for next year’s championships.

“It’s a process that starts immediately after the season finishes,” Vargo-Brown said. “We’ll start looking for music, we’ll start choreography next fall and it takes five to six months to create and perfect what we ultimately end up with in March.”

The Scarlet team’s routine this year was themed around time, with clock-like movements and the constant sounds of ticking in the background. The Gray team’s winning routine was themed around space, with intricate movements and flips incorporated into their choreography. The teams combined to give the Buckeyes their winning score of 93.0.

Vargo-Brown said she enjoyed the idea of using concepts that work together for the theme, like using fire and ice to win the national championship last year in Arizona.

Considering the meticulous work that goes in to each new routine, senior Heidi Liou said she was impressed by the Buckeyes’ execution.

“I still can’t believe that all the hard work that we’ve put in paid off,” she said. “We were here during our spring training from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day. We even had practice on Sunday.”

Senior captain Khadija Zanotto needed a minute to find the words to explain how winning the national championship felt.

“We won a championship my freshman year and now ending with a championship, it just feels like the perfect career here at Ohio State,” she said.

After the Buckeyes’ outstanding season, Vargo-Brown was named the U.S. Collegiate Coach of the Year for the third time.

“Certainly it’s not just me that coaches this program. I gratefully accept this for our entire coaching staff,” Vargo-Brown said. “The expectation of always giving your best helps us coach better student-athletes because we feel the energy and we gain motivation from that.”

While Vargo-Brown has only been the head coach at OSU since 2012, she has a history with the Buckeyes spanning back to 1981 as a four-time letterwinner, All-American and as a member of the 1982 and 1983 U.S. Collegiate championship teams.

“She really nurtures us and really tries to have a very cohesive team that’s focused on a championship and on winning,” Zanotto said. “She’s just a phenomenal coach and brings out the best in the athletes.”

Now with yet another title under her belt, Vargo-Brown and the Buckeyes have a chance to dream about their next routine before putting it into action.

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