Ohio State’s Legendary Synchronized Swimming Coach to Retire
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Linda Lichter-Witter, one of the most accomplished synchronized swimming coaches of all time, announced her retirement Wednesday.
An eight-time United States Synchronized Swimming Coach of the Year honoree, Lichter-Witter has been at the helm of Ohio State’s synchronized swimming team for the past 17 seasons.
In almost two decades as the head coach of the Scarlet and Gray, she guided the Buckeyes to 11 U.S. Collegiate National Titles in synchronized swimming and recorded a 671-18 record for a .974 win percentage.
She also guided them to a pair of U.S. Senior national championships, but the timing was right for Lichter-Witter to step away from the daily grind of coaching a major college program.
“I am looking forward to spending time with my family and being a grandmother,” said Lichter-Witter, whose son Eric served as the Director of Football Performance at Ohio State under Jim Tressel and Luke Fickell.
“It will be nice not waking up at 5 a.m. anymore, but I definitely look forward to watching this program continue its success. I want to thank our administrators Miechelle Willis, T.J. Shelton, Heather Lyke and, of course, Gene Smith for all their support over the years.”
From 2000-04, Lichter-Witter and the Buckeyes won five-consecutive U.S. titles and Ohio State captured its fourth-consecutive U.S. Collegiate title this past March. Of the 11 U.S. Collegiate championships won under Lichter-Witter, eight were the culmination of an undefeated season, including a 40-0 record in 2012.
The Buckeyes were a perfect 115-0 from 2000-02, and they have not lost a match since the 2009 season, going 117-0 the past three seasons.
Lichter-Witter has been a prominent fixture on the U.S National Team as well. She served as the head coach of the 2009 U.S. National Team that competed at the FINA World Championships in Rome during the summer of 2009. Lichter-Witter also was the head coach of the 1996 U.S. National Team I squad.
The Bronx, N.Y., native attended West Chester East High School before earning her bachelor’s degree in physical education from Southern Connecticut State in 1972. That is where she got her start as a member of the swimming and synchronized swimming teams.
Her coaching career began in 1970 with the Hamden Heronettes in Connecticut. From there Lichter-Witter headed to Yale University, where she led the swimming team from 1981-83. After that, she moved on to Arizona, where she coached the Aqua Stars from 1983-85.
She became Ohio State’s synchronized swimming coach in 1996, and has mentored 125 Collegiate All-Americans during her time as a coach.
Four student-athletes who swam under the guidance of Lichter-Witter are members of the Ohio State University Athletics Hall of Fame, including Emily Marsh (Class of 2003), Becky Jasontek (Class of 2003) and Carolina and Isabela Moraes (Class of 2008).
The Moraes twins became the first pair in championship history to win the duet title at nationals all four years and teamed with Mary Hofer to win the gold medal in the trio event all four years during the 1999-2002 seasons.
In 2010, then-senior Barbara Nesbitt became the first Buckeye in program history to win a U.S. Senior national title as a solo champion, and this past March, Lichter-Witter coached another solo champion at the competition in Yuliya Maryanko.
U.S. Collegiate National Titles (11 total)
United State Synchronized Swimming Coach of the Year (8 total)
1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2009 and 2012
By the Numbers
125 U.S. Collegiate All-Americans
135 Academic All-Big Ten selections
13 Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor finalists; 2 winners in Gina Pietras in 1997 and Victoria Bowen in 2003
11 U.S. Collegiate titles
4 Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame inductees
2 U.S. Senior National titles
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