In 2009, USA Diving had its best showing at a world championships in nearly two decades. Team USA won four silver medals, all in Olympic events. The four medals are the most won by a U.S. squad at a world championships since 1991 and the most in Olympic events since the 1986 world championships.
Team USA is hoping to carry this success to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where the U.S. will be looking for its first Olympic medal since the 2000 Games.
A key factor in the recent success for the U.S. is simply experience. Of the 12 members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Diving Team, only two had previously been to an Olympic Games. Six of those 10 Olympic rookies were teenagers. Having been through an Olympic cycle now, they have the benefit of experience as the U.S. looks toward London.
Take Mary Beth Dunnichay and Haley Ishimatsu for example. At age 15, they were the two youngest members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team – for all sports. They finished fifth in the synchronized 10-meter event in Beijing, but just a year later, their experience started to show when they won the silver medal at the world championships. Two other teens on the 2008 Olympic Team – David Boudia and Thomas Finchum – also came up just short of a medal in synchronized 10-meter, but won the silver medal at the 2009 World Championships.
And at age 31, three-time Olympian Troy Dumais still proves to be the leader of the U.S. team and one of the world’s best divers. Dumais helped lead the U.S. to its successful showing in Rome in 2009 when he won two silver medals – on 3-meter and in synchronized 3-meter with rising star Kristian Ipsen. If Dumais makes the 2012 Olympic Team, he’d become the first U.S. male diver to compete in four Olympics.
2008 Olympians Kelci Bryant, Chris Colwill and Christina Loukas are also looking toward London and have more experience as 2012 quickly approaches.
There are several newcomers who are challenging to make their first Olympic team as well. Ipsen, for instance, has medaled with Dumais at the world championships and the 2010 World Cup, where he was the top individual finisher for the U.S. At 18, he’s one of the top young hopefuls in the United States. Four other teens – 19-year-old Nick McCrory, 17-year-old Jessica Parratto, 16-year-old Kassidy Cook and 15-year-old Anna James – have represented the U.S. in major world competitions as well. McCrory made his world debut in 2009 by placing 20th on platform, but a year later he was the top U.S. finisher on that event (eighth) at the world cup, proving again that experience is key. Cook was the youngest diver on the 2010 World Cup Team and won a pair of gold medals at the 2010 World Junior Championships before winning her first senior international medal in an individual event in 2011. Parratto and James also emerged as contenders with strong showings in 2011.
Also watch for veterans Brittany Viola and Cassidy Krug, who came up short in their bids to the make the 2008 Olympic Team but have won national titles in 2011 and will be in the mix for spots on the 2012 squad as well.
- Will three-time Olympian Troy Dumais become the first U.S. male diver to compete in four Olympic Games? Dumais, now 31, remains one of the top male divers in the United States. A 33-time national champion (second only to Greg Louganis), Dumais won the silver medal on 3-meter at the 2009 World Championships. Dumais placed sixth on 3-meter at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. Should he compete in London, he would be the first U.S. male to dive in four Olympics (Louganis made four Olympic teams, but did not compete in 1980).
- 2008 Olympian Chris Colwill had the highest degree of difficulty on 3-meter in the finals in Beijing two years ago, and he remains one of the top U.S. divers on this event. Colwill won the national title on 3-meter at the 2010 USA Diving Winter National Championships but missed the 2011 championships due to injury.
- Eighteen-year-old Kristian Ipsen, a 16-time junior national champion, has emerged as a true contender in the senior ranks as well. Ipsen finished sixth on 3-meter to lead the U.S. at the 2010 World Cup, the top international meet of the 2010 season. Ipsen earned his spot by finishing second to Colwill at the 2010 USA Diving Winter National Championships, where he beat Dumais. Ipsen won the national title on 3-meter at the 2011 USA Diving Winter National Championships and was second at the 2010 Winter Nationals and the 2010 AT&T National Diving Championships.
Men’s Synchronized 3-meter Synchro
- The veteran and the youngster have paired up to become one of the top 3-meter synchro teams in the world and appear to be the team to be in the United States. Three-time Olympian Troy Dumais and 18-year-old Kristian Ipsen won silver medals at the 2009 FINA World Championships and the 2010 FINA World Cup. The two became a team in March 2009, giving the young star an opportunity to train and learn alongside on the best divers in the country. In addition to their two world medals, they’ve won four national titles.
- From 2005-08, David Boudia and Thomas Finchum dominated this event in the United States. They finished first and second at every major national competition they participated in during that span and were the two U.S. representatives in every world cup, world championships and Olympic Games during the quad.
- David Boudia has still dominated, having won the last three national championships (including a record-setting performance at the 2010 AT&T National Diving Championships, where he became the first American to score more than 600 points). His sixth-place showing at the 2009 World Championships was the best finish by the U.S. on that event since 1998, but the emergence of Nick McCrory could make the men’s platform race more interesting as London approaches. In 2009, McCrory became the first diver to break up the Boudia/Thomas Finchum streak when he was selected to compete in the individual 10-meter event at the world championships. He finished second at both the 2010 and 2011 USA Diving Winter National Championships and led the U.S. with an eighth-place finish at the 2010 World Cup.
- Don’t count Thomas Finchum out – after finishing third to David Boudia and Nick McCrory at the 2010 Winter Nationals, he went on to win gold at the 2010 AT&T USA Diving Grand Prix. He had surgery following that meet but finished third at the 2011 USA Diving Winter National Championships in his first meet back. Also watch for Drew Livingston, who won the national title on 10-meter at the 2009 AT&T National Diving Championships.
Men’s Synchronized Platform
- As with the men’s individual platform event, David Boudia and Thomas Finchum were synonymous with men’s synchronized 10-meter from 2005-09. They won the silver medal at the 2009 World Championships, bronze at the 2007 World Championships and silver at the 2006 World Cup. They also won numerous national titles together.
- But with the rise of Nick McCrory, the event has gotten a little more complex, with the challenge of determining which of the three world-class divers best match up together in synchro. All three combinations – David Boudia/Thomas Finchum, Boudia/McCrory and McCrory/Finchum – have proven successful and have medaled internationally. In the end, degree of difficulty may be the difference. Boudia and McCrory currently have a higher degree of difficulty than Finchum, meaning the Boudia/McCrory pairing currently has the potential to score the highest of the three teams.
- Women’s 3-meter is by far one of the most competitive events for U.S. divers right now, with at least seven divers considered legitimate hopefuls for 2012. Five divers – 2008 Olympians Kelci Bryant and Christina Loukas, along with Abby Johnston, Cassidy Krug and Allison Brennan – have won national titles on this event. 2008 Olympian Ariel Rittenhouse has yet to win an individual national title, but her fifth-place finish on 3-meter at the 2009 World Championships was the best finish by a U.S. diver at a world championships since 1994. Also watch for 16-year-old Kassidy Cook, who won the gold medal at the 2010 World Junior Diving Championships and brought home an individual bronze from the 2011 FINA World Series.
Women’s 3-meter Synchro
- With so much depth in the individual 3-meter events, it’s no surprise the depth is paying off in the 3-meter synchro events as well. There’s no question there’s talent on this event; the challenge is determining which two divers would best match up together. So far, there’s no clear-cut winner as several teams have been successful. For example, Christina Loukas and Abby Johnston won gold at the 2011 AT&T USA Diving Grand Prix. A week later at the World Championships Trials, where divers paired with multiple partners, Loukas and Kassidy Cook finished on top and earned the spot at the world championships; they finished just four points ahead of Johnston and Kelci Bryant over the course of three list of dives. Bryant and Loukas won a national title together in 2010, and Cook and Cassidy Krug have also won national titles together.
- Now that 2000 Olympic gold medalist and three-time Olympian Laura Wilkinson is no longer up on the 10-meter, the U.S. is looking for a new leader on women’s platform. After making her Olympic debut at age 15 in 2008, Haley Ishimatsu has more experience under her belt. She represented the U.S. at the 2009 World Championships and 2010 FINA World Cup, although she has taken time off in 2011.
- Brittany Viola won her first national title with a win on 10-meter at the 2011 USA Diving Winter National Championships, and others to watch on this event include Haley Ishimatsu’s Olympic synchronized diving teammate Mary Beth Dunnichay, national champions Katie Bell and Michelle Cabassol, and rising stars 17-year-old Jessica Parratto and 15-year-old Anna James.
Women’s Synchronized Platform
- At age 15, Mary Beth Dunnichay and Haley Ishimatsu were the two youngest members of the entire U.S. Olympic delegation. They finished fifth in synchronized 10-meter in their Olympic debut. A year later, they won the silver medal at the FINA World Championships in Rome. With Ishimatsu taking time off, Dunnichay has been diving synchro with 15-year-old Anna James. In their first meet together, they won the silver medal at the AT&T USA Diving Grand Prix and will represent the U.S. at the FINA World Championships.
The 2012 U.S. Olympic team for diving will be selected at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Federal Way, Wash., from June 17-24, 2012. Pending qualification, the U.S. will select two athletes for each individual 3-meter and 10-meter event for men and women, and one team (two athletes) for each of the synchronized 3-meter and 10-meter events, for a maximum of 16 athletes on the team. For both the individual and synchronized events at the trials, divers and teams will perform their list of dives three times. For the individual events, the two divers with the highest cumulative score from the three lists will be selected to the Olympic Team. For the synchro events, the team with the highest cumulative score will be selected.
How does Team USA qualify?
The first opportunity for countries to qualify for the Olympic Games is the FINA World Championships in Shanghai, China, from July 16-24, 2011. Divers who finish in the top 12 in an individual Olympic event will earn a spot for their country. In the synchronized events, the three medalists will qualify their countries (should Great Britain medal at the world championships, the fourth-place team would earn a spot as Great Britain automatically qualifies as the host country).
The Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, will offer another opportunity to qualify individual spots, as the winner of each individual event will earn a spot for their country (if not already secured – countries may qualify a maximum of two spots per event). There will be no synchronized diving qualifying at the Pan Am Games.
The final stage of qualifying will take place at the FINA Diving World Cup in London from February 20-26, 2012. In the synchronized events, the top four countries that have not already qualified will earn Olympic berths. In the individual events, the top-18 finishers will earn spots for their countries if not already qualified. At the conclusion of the world cup, there will be a last chance qualifier in the individual events (the number of spots available will vary by event based on the number of divers already qualified).
- July 16-24, 2011: FINA World Aquatic Championships – Shanghai, China
- Aug. 9-14, 2011: AT&T National Diving Championships – Los Angeles, Calif.
- Dec. 2011: World Cup Trials/Winter National Championships – TBA
- Feb. 20-26, 2012: FINA Diving World Cup – London
- May 10-13, 2012: AT&T USA Diving Grand Prix – Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
- June 17-24, 2012: U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Federal Way, Wash.
Athlete Social Media
- David Boudia - @davidboudia
- Kelci Bryant - @kelci_bryant
- Kassidy Cook - @kassidycook1
- Mary Beth Dunnichay - @mbdunnichay
- Thomas Finchum - @thomas_finchum
- Anna James - @aejtx
- Abby Johnson - @alj2200
- Christina Loukas - @christinaloukas