INDIANAPOLIS - After becoming one of the most decorated divers in U.S. history on the 10-meter platform, three-time Olympian and four-time Olympic medalist David Boudia’s transition to the 3-meter springboard is all but complete.
Boudia earned his 21st national title – his first on springboard since 2013 – at the USA Diving Senior National Championships, part of the Team USA Champions Series, presented by Xfinity, on Saturday in Indianapolis.
Boudia took time off following the Olympic Games Rio 2016 before announcing his return to the sport in September 2017. A concussion five months later would change his plans for a Tokyo 2020 bid from the platform to the springboard.
The 30-year-old father of three has since earned silver at the FINA Gold Coast Grand Prix last November, followed by a win at the Winter Trials and now a national title.
Boudia and Michael Hixon were the only Olympians in the field, and each showed his experience. Boudia won the national title with a total score of 474.35, followed by Hixon (451.00) and Jordan Windle (425.30).
Hixon won the top spot in the race for a world championship spot, cumulatively scoring 1,381.50 point over the three rounds of competition contested Thursday and Saturday, while Boudia checked in with a total of 1,358.05. Both men will compete for Team USA at the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, in July.
After the first three dives in the final, the top three competitors were separated by less than 10 points; Hixon with 237.10, his synchro partner Andrew Capobianco with 235.40 and Boudia with 229.70.
Capobianco missed his fourth dive, a reverse 3 ½, earning just 31.50, virtually dropping him out of the race. Boudia, meanwhile, vaulted ahead of the field by 12 points (301.10) followed by Hixon (289.60).
Consistency over his final two dives kept Boudia in the driver’s seat. He closed out his title run with his best score of the day, an 89.25 on a reverse 3 ½, followed by an 84.00 on a reverse 1 ½, 3 ½ twist in his finale.
“Going into this event today, I don’t think I have been that nervous since 2005,” Boudia said. “I think because it is a new event on 3-meter, there are a lot more variables when it comes to diving – with trying to ride the board and have a rhythm. I am comfortable on 10-meter. I am not quite as comfortable on 3-meter yet, but this is a good stepping-stone to get into world championships and then ultimately toward Tokyo next year.”
Boudia noted that mentality was key in his success despite the ups and downs of other competitors.
“Nerves are good, you just have to learn how to put those butterflies in formation,” he said. “I think my rock has been my mental game and that is why I have been successful in this sport. It is just a matter of turning on that focus and getting into that zone and I guess that is what happened today. Having to step up for the occasion is what I love to do.”
For his part, Hixon scored 75 or above on five of his six dives. The lone exception was a 52.50 on his fourth dive, a reverse 3 ½.
Hixon, who won silver in the 3-meter synchro with partner Sam Dorman at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, also won the national title in the 3-meter synchro event with new partner Capobianco and finished second in 1-meter earlier this week.
“I couldn’t be any happier with this meet,” Hixon said. “For me, it was three really solid lists on 3-meter, a good list synchro with Andrew and I got the job done on 1-meter as well. To me this is a trials, not national championships, and I did win the trials, so that is what I am here for. I just need to keep going where I am going. I feel like we are on a great path right now. I had three really good sessions. Consistency is always key and even more so at the next level at worlds. You have to hit everything.”
Despite winning his second national title in 3-meter and first in six years, Boudia, who captured Olympic gold on the platform in 2012 and bronze in 2016, said he is not satisfied.
“The caliber of diving here is a lot different than what the top four or five in the world are doing right now, so Hix and I are going to have a lot of training to do if we want to be even close to cracking that top five, but what we both have is experience,” Boudia said. “We both have been to the Olympics and been on the podium and we know what that feels like. And we know how to battle the pressure that comes with it. Ultimately, the goal of world championships is to bring back [Olympic] spots for the United States and I think Hixon and I are both in the position to do that. We just need to execute our plan.”