Singing The Red, White And Blues
|Cheyenne Cousineau and Samantha Bromberg compete in the
women's 10-meterplatform synchronized diving final at the 15th
FINA World Championships at Piscina Municipal de Montjuic on July
22, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The blue USA suits are already the magical ones for synchronized divers Cheyenne Cousineau and Samantha “Murphy” Bromberg.
“I‘ve always been kind of superstitious about wearing blue in a meet,” Bromberg said.
Needing to hit a solid score in their final dive Sunday to win gold in the women’s synchronized platform at the AT&T National Diving Championships, Cousineau and Bromberg had their blues on. In unison, they jumped into a move that included 2 ½ somersaults with a 1 ½-revolution twist pike, then hit the water in near perfection at the same time.
The cheers at the University of Iowa Campus Recreation and Wellness Center told the story. Cousineau and Bromberg had their highest-scoring dive in two days, 77.76, and won their first senior national championship as a synchro team.
“We have that dive as our last dive because we know we can nail it in any circumstance,” Cousineau said.
They are hoping one of those future circumstances will include the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. One year after the USA Diving National Team did not qualify for the women’s 10-meter synchronized diving event at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Cousineau and Bromberg have quickly emerged as the ones destined to bring the United States back to the synchro women’s platform in Rio.
“It‘s not an option not to go,” says the 18-year-old Bromberg, who also won the 10-meter individual national title. “I‘m going. When you dedicate this much of your life to one thing, I really want it. Definitely.”
Diving together for just one year, Cousineau and Bromberg won the USA Diving World Team Trials and advanced to their first FINA World Championships in July in Barcelona where they placed seventh. Eight synchro teams will qualify for Rio; four of them will be determined at the 2015 FINA World Championships.
“We want to be there,” Cousineau said of Rio. “And we know that we’re capable of being there, especially being in Spain this summer. We dove well. We saw the things that we needed to work on. We thought if we could hang with the rest of the world.”
Steve Foley, USA Diving High Performance Director, has closely watched the pair, including this past weekend at the national championships.
“They’re a good partnership,” he said. “When you look at the synchro, it’s very important to try and match what I call the quality of dive and the consistency of dive. They just seem to be very relaxed and happy with the list of dives they do together. They feel comfort. As a partner, you want to feel secure that your partner is not going to blow it; they’re not going to lay an egg.”
They might be the closest of all the synchro athletes in USA Diving. They both train at the Ohio State Diving Club, home of 2012 Olympians Katie Bell and Abby Johnston. Bromberg calls Cousineau, 22, a redshirt junior at Ohio State University, her big sister.
“We get along great,” said Bromberg, an incoming freshman at the University of Texas (they will practice synchro together at national team training camps). “I love diving with Cheyenne. She’s a little bit older and wiser than me. She’s like my big sister, I love her. It’s a lot of fun diving with her.”
And if there is one person who cherishes such a relationship, it is Cousineau. In 2010, a blood clot in her brain caused a stroke. She recovered from the stroke but her first question to doctors was about her future in diving.
“When I woke up, that was the first thing I kind of asked: ‘Am I allowed to dive?’” Cousineau said. “And they just said, ‘No.’
“So the tears came, and my life was over in my head.”
She recovered so strongly that she remained in school at Ohio State. She took a redshirt year, then returned to diving and won the Big Ten Conference championship in platform diving in 2012. Now she is prominently positioned as a contender for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team.
“Every dive, every meet, every practice is a blessing beyond anything I can ask for,” she said. “It’s the cherry on top. I could not be doing this. I’m blessed.”
Bromberg still remembers the first day she and Cousineau practiced as a team in Columbus, Ohio. Bell, a 2012 Olympian in platform diving and whom Bromberg has idolized since she was a young girl in the same club, was training for London in the pool.
“I was terrified,” Bromberg said, laughing at the memory. “I just remember like being scared.”
It was the beginning of a diving relationship that grew earlier this year at a synchronized diving camp conducted by Foley. There will be another one in April. One of the camp’s goals is to match up divers in a variety of combinations so that if one diver becomes injured, there is another one ready to step in as a replacement. He quickly noticed the bond between Cousineau and Bromberg.
“They have good chemistry,” he said. “That’s a real important thing.”
“I look for great things from them in 2016,” said retiring Ohio State diving coach Vince Panzano. “They could be a great team.”
“Diving with Murphy is something special,” Cousineau said. “I can’t see myself diving with really anyone else. We have fun, but when it comes down to the dives, we get focused and we get ready.”
Foley said he likes that there is an identified Olympic-contending team three years away from the Olympic Games. He has a number in mind: 330. He’d like Cousineau and Bromberg to hit that number because at the London Games, 337.62 is what earned a bronze medal for Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion of Canada. At the FINA World Championships, Cousineau and Bromberg totaled 301.74.
“What was really exciting was we got Cheyenne and Murphy out there sort of four years before the Olympic Games, which is really important,” Foley said. “They themselves now know when I stand up and say it’ll take 330, they can actually picture it. They’re a part of it and they know it now.”
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1990 and was Olympic assistant bureau chief for Morris Communications at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. He also writes about Olympic sports for the Springfield (Mass.) Republican. Bowker has written for TeamUSA.org since 2010 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.