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Synchronized swimming wins national title in final season

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The pandemic didn’t stop them; the discontinuation of their sport didn’t stop them; Ohio State didn’t stop them. Today, and for the last time as a varsity program, Stanford’s synchronized swimmers are national champions.

The Cardinal started its team routine on Saturday to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” With about 200 people in attendance, many with thunder sticks, the atmosphere at Avery Aquatic Center was electric. The start of the routine was the loudest the venue had been since the start of the pandemic. It only became louder when the announcer brought news of the team’s final score: 83.6000, completing a sweep of all four individual free events this weekend and earning the overall team title.

Senior Jacklyn Luu will likely need a new shelf for all the awards she won this weekend. In addition to her role as one of the eight swimmers in the team routine, she also performed an individual routine to Beyoncé’s “Listen,” which claimed her the solo title on Friday, with a score of 81.0000. It was lower than her 83.9333 from the last meet against the University of the Incarnate Word, who finished last out of the weekend’s three teams, but it was enough. She finished first in the predetermined technical routine and teamed up with freshman Emmanuella Tchakmakjian to take the duet title with a score of 82.3000, a whole point above their teammates, sophomore Hailee Henrich and senior Caitlin Klauer, who finished second.

The Cardinal also finished first and second in trios. Heinrich, Klauer and sophomore Audrey Nguyen won the crown with a 80.6000, while another Gatsby-themed performance by juniors Grace Alwan and Alexandra Suarez, with the help of sophomore Ava Jih-Schiff, logged a 78.4000, enough for second. These six players rounded out the roster on the team routine along with Luu and Tchakmakjian.

After the trophy presentation the swimmers celebrated by throwing their coaches, and themselves into the pool. For Luu, Klauer and senior Sophia Susac, the celebration was likely their last swim at Avery.

The win marks Stanford’s second team national championship this year, and 154th in school history. The four individual championship wins — solo, duet, trio and team — are also the third through sixth titles this year and bring the school total up to 605. The first two individual championship wins this year were Brooke Forde’s win in swimming’s 400 meter individual medley and Shane Griffith’s individual title at the NCAA wrestling championships. Griffith’s teammates were in attendance on Saturday with a banner criticizing Bernard Muir’s decision to cut the 11 programs. 

Members of the wrestling team standing in Avery Aquatics Center with white text on a black banner that reads: "Competitive excellence says Bernard Muir. Really? National champions & olympic medals galore. What are you hiding?
(Photo: MICHAEL ESPINOSA/The Stanford Daily)

When the Cardinal finished the rest of the rock-and-roll team routine, the entire stadium, even those cheering for Ohio State or Incarnate Word, started chanting, demanding that the University, “Save Stanford Synchro.” While the University continues its dialogue with alumni, the future of synchronized swimming remains uncertain, but the swimmers can be content that they ended as the nation’s best.

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Michael Espinosa '22 is majoring in international relations. He's the head of The Daily's social media team, and editor for the University beat and also occasionally writes for sports, arts, and The Grind. He's the biggest Taylor Swift fan at Stanford and the proudest New Yorker you will ever meet. Contact him at mespinosa 'at' stanforddaily.com.