Pioneers in the pool, Ohio State women's swimming and diving opened the history books of league competition in unforgettable fashion. The Buckeyes, who currently rank second behind Michigan for all-time Big Ten titles, claimed five-consecutive conference championships from 1982-86. After their first crown in the event's inaugural season of conference action, the Buckeyes scored their best-ever NCAA finish by placing fifth in 1982.
With the most successful squad in his 17 years at Ohio State, Jim Montrella coached his athletes to 39 individual titles, including four straight gold-place finishes in the 400-yard medley relay, during the five-title streak. During his career, Montrella also saw 48 swimmers recognized as NCAA All-Americans, five swimmers awarded Big Ten Swimmer of the Year honors, one NCAA National Championship, one AIAW National Champion and two selections as Big Ten Coach of the Year (1985 & 1991). Fifty of his swimmers earned Academic All-Big Ten honors and the team garnered a consistent grade point average earning recognition on the College Swim Coaches of America All Academic Team. He mentored five student-athletes who were awarded the Big Ten Medal of Honor, an award presented to one graduating student-athlete each year based on GPA, athletics and community service.
Two of the most successful athletes during that era were four-time All-Americans Marci Ballard and Janelle Bosse. Ballard earned the distinction from 1982-85 for her stellar performance in the 50-yard backstroke. The 1982 AIAW National Champion in the event, Ballard holds the retired Big Ten record of 27.00 seconds. Bosse, the league's swimmer of the season in 1985 and 1986, clinched four-straight titles in the 400-yard individual medley from 1985-88. She went on to earn NCAA gold in the 400-yard individual medley in 1987. Four-time honoree Kim Fugett led a group of six diving All-Americans from that period, including two-time Big Ten Diver of the Year Karen LaFace.