It’s decision time for USA Diving with the Rio clock ticking.
The U.S. Olympic Team Trials open a nine-day run Friday at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis, marking the final selection of divers who will represent the country at the Games this August in Rio de Janeiro.
A field of 112 divers will be vying for just 13 — possibly 14 — quota spots earned by USA Diving competitors in international competition. There will be no American entry in women’s 3-meter synchronized diving, and only one in women’s 3-meter individual unless FINA assigns the United States a second spot during reallocation, which will happen sometime during the trials.
Four medalists from the London 2012 Olympic Games will be in Indianapolis, led by David Boudia, who doubled up with a gold medal in 10-meter platform and a bronze medal with Nick McCrory in 10-meter synchronized diving. But the newcomers and long shots can be just as intriguing.
With that in mind, here are 10 divers to keep an eye on at the Trials.
Troy Dumais: Pretty hard not to watch an athlete trying to make his fifth Olympic team, something achieved by only three other divers worldwide. After competing with two different partners in 3-meter synchronized at both of last year’s two nationals, he’s paired again with Kristian Ipsen, his partner in winning the bronze medal at the 2012 Games. But upping his degree of difficulty has given Dumais, 36, hope of cracking the top two in individual springboard, as well.
Kassidy Cook: She’s diving’s comeback kid — first from a painfully narrow miss at making the 2012 Olympic team in 3-meter synchro with Christina Loukas, then from a string of injuries and rehabs. A seventh-place finish in individual 3-meter at the World Cup in Rio in February was her first international event in three years, and she followed that up with another seventh at the Puerto Rico Diving Grand Prix.
Tarrin Gilliland: USA Diving’s wunderkind won’t turn 14 until a month after the Rio Games, but she’s still eligible — and a legitimate threat to make the team off bronze-medal finishes in both individual and synchro 10-meter at the last winter nationals. Her composure and steely approach tend to belie her youth, and she’s added some difficulty that should make her even more of a contender.
David Boudia: He’s the reigning gold medalist in 10-meter diving, but the Olympic cycle has brought big changes to Boudia’s life — marriage and a young daughter, plus a certain celebrity. He’s also had his ups and downs of late — a silver in last year’s world championships, but no international podiums this year. Still, he and Steele Johnson are overwhelming in synchro, and he’ll be tough to keep out of the top two individually.
Samantha Bromberg: Murphy to her friends, Bromberg is having a breakthrough season on the platform. She reached a World Cup final at Rio for the first time, finishing 13th and nailing down a quota spot for Team USA in the process. Six weeks later she was atop the podium at the Puerto Rico Grand Prix, beating China’s Lin Jinming by more than four points despite a sub-par final inward 3 1/2 tuck. The confidence gained from proving herself among the best in the world only adds to her status as a favorite in Indianapolis.
Ariel Rittenhouse: Only one other U.S. diver, Patrick Jeffrey, has made non-consecutive Olympic teams, but that’s Rittenhouse’s aim after just missing a medal in 2008 with Kelci Bryant in 3-meter synchro. She’s a long shot — Team USA has no berth in that event and only one at the moment in individual, and a neck injury has compromised her training the last year. But her international experience makes her hard to discount.
Kristian Ipsen: Ipsen has been a fixture in the U.S. diving world since he became the youngest athlete ever to win a junior national championship when he was 8 years old. An Olympic alternate in 2008, he won bronze alongside partner Troy Dumais in the 3-meter synchronized event at the London 2012 Olympic Games. In recent years he’s partnered with Sam Dorman, finishing seventh at the 2015 world championships, but he and Dumais will join forces and look to qualify for in Rio. Ipsen has always had success in synchro, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that he finally found individual success on the international stage, earning bronze at the World Cup in Rio. It marked Team USA’s first men’s 3-meter medal in the event since 2006.
Steele Johnson: In 2012, Johnson watched David Boudia win the gold medal in the 10-meter platform. Now he and Boudia are synchro partners and medal favorites for Rio. Johnson has fought through injury as of late, competing on a broken ankle for the entire 2015 season. A 10-time national champion, he and Boudia have a trio of fourth-place World Series finishes this season and are the reigning national champions.
Abby Johnston: Not many people could balance training to make an Olympic team with medical school, but Johnston is one of the rare few that can. Having graduated last week, Johnston can now turn her focus to winning Olympic Trials. In 2012, she and partner Kelci Bryant took silver in the 3-meter springboard synchro event. The U.S. did not qualify a spot in that event for Rio, however, so Johnston’s Olympic hopes rest in the individual 3-meter springboard.
Amy Cozad: After narrowly missing qualifying for the 2008 and 2012 Olympic teams, Cozad looks to make her Olympic debut in Rio. She and partner Jessica Paratto are the reigning national champions in 10-meter platform. Individually, Cozad finished sixth in 10-meter platform at the 2015 world championships – the highest finish by an American woman in the event since 2007 – and she looks to secure Olympic berths in both events.
John Blanchette is a sportswriter from Spokane, Washington. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.