If you want to see one of the most decorated sports team at Ohio State University, pull your eyes away from the football field and toward the pool.
Ohio State's synchronized swimming team won its 30th national championship in front of a home crowd at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion last weekend. For head coach and Ohio State swimming alum Holly Vargo-Brown, it was a familiar feeling: She's played a part of 12 national titles as a member of the coaching staff.
“It’s amazing,” says Vargo-Brown about leading her alma mater. “I think it adds an extra motivation because I love the university so much.”
Emma Baranski and Elizabeth Davidson in particular had a picture-perfect week. The two seniors competing in the duet final led the Buckeyes at the national championship by turning in their best score of the season.
It was also the last time the two will swim together.
Vargo-Brown says parting ways is especially tough for synchronized swimmers, who spend a big chunk of their lives trying to appear as one.
“As seniors, for them to go out that way in front of a home Buckeye crowd was just something I know they will treasure forever,” Vargo-Brown says. “I’m sure the moments they remember will not just be related to the performances, but also just being teammates together.”
While the goal is to make swimming look as effortless as possible, Vargo-Brown says there's significant athleticism - both in and out of the pool - that goes into the sport.
Vargo-Brown says that universities have been slow to accept synchronized swimming as a varsity sport, and Ohio State is doing its part to bring the event acclaim.
The duet championship for Baranski, especially, puts a bow on the end of an acclaimed collegiate career. In her time as a Buckeye, Baranski won two solo national championships, a duet championship, a team championship, and was a four-time All-American.
"It was kind of a storybook ending," Vargo-Brown says.