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Ohio University senior, Riley Bunstine, finishes second in the Womens 100 yard Backstroke in dual meet against Ball State University on Jan. 27, 2024

Swim and Dive Column: Ohio has the chance to do something special

It’s been quite the year for Ohio sports already; during the fall season, the soccer program won its first Mid-American Conference Championship in its history and the football program picked up a Power-5 football win at home against Iowa State. The field hockey and volleyball teams also turned in MAC tournament-worthy seasons. 

Now that the calendar year has turned over and Winter sports are at the heart of their seasons, both basketball teams are on their way to improvements from their 2022 campaigns, while the Wrestling team has a handful of nationally ranked wrestlers. One team, perhaps the most impressive team Ohio has right now, has flown completely under the radar. 

Ohio’s swim and dive team is currently 7-0 with the MAC Championships quickly approaching. 

Some students at Ohio might not even know that Ohio University has a swim and dive team, let alone an undefeated swim and dive team that features one of Ohio’s best freshman athletes — two-time MAC Diver of the Week, Astrid Pichardo.

Swim and Dive column…Keegan _Clark
Ohio University senior Caroline Dunigan (21) anchors the Women's 200 Medley Relay, placing first in dual against Ball State University Jan. 27, 2024

On the swimming side, seniors Gabrielle Brust and Ami Hornyak headline a roster of impressive athletes. 

Brust recently won MAC Swimmer of the Week in the same week that Pichardo took home her second Diver of the Week honor. Ohio is one of just two schools in the MAC to sweep both Swimmer and Diver of the Week in the same week. 

On the other hand, Hornyak broke the school record in both the 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yard IM last season for Ohio and will be looking to defend her first-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke at last year's MAC Championship meet. 

Hornyak and Brust signify the development of the program under sixth-year Head Coach Mason Norman. Over the past few years, the program has grown to become a competitive program in a solid conference.

Athens will have the rare opportunity to host the MAC Swim and Dive Championships. What will be the host team, Ohio, has just as good a chance as any to win it in its stomping grounds. 

The event will take place from Feb. 28 to March 2. 

Ohio already has some experience against the teams it will be seeing in the Championship meet, with a 4-0 record in the MAC already. A win against Akron, the reigning MAC Champions, at the beginning of November, solidified Ohio as a top contender in the conference, and since then, the team hasn’t lost. 

Swim and Dive column…Keegan _Clark
Stephanie Balthaser (18) competes in the 3m diving dual against Ball State University Jan. 27, 2023

Ohio hasn’t won a MAC Championship as a team since the 2011 season. This year, the team is as talented as ever to try to break a 13-year drought from winning the MAC. 

Ohio’s biggest competition will be Akron, who has won nine of the last 10 MAC Championships. However, Ohio already beat Akron once this year in a head-to-head meet. 

When MAC Championship time comes, fans will be sure to see some of the best collegiate swimming in the country and maybe even Ohio’s first championship in over a decade.


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