Michael Hixon and Andrew Capobianco compete in the men's synchronized 3M springboard at the Pan American Games Lima 2019 on Aug. 3, 2019 in Lima, Peru.
Every day when Andrew Capobianco steps into Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatics Center on the Indiana University campus he’s reminded of the legends that came before him. Banners of 11-time Olympic medalist swimmer Mark Spitz, 1964 Olympic diving champion Lesley Bush, 1976 Olympic diving bronze medalist Cynthia Potter, and International Swimming Hall of Fame coaches Hobie Billingsley and Doc Counsilman drape the walls of the building.
“Being able to train and see all of those faces on the wall of people who have been so successful at IU just gives me so much more motivation to be like them,” Capobianco, 20, said.
Capobianco, a USA Diving national team member and Indiana junior, chose the university partially because of the storied history of the program—and for the opportunity to parlay his experiences into international success.
A more recent banner to be hung from the wall was Capobianco’s synchronized diving partner and 2016 Olympic silver medalist Michael Hixon.
“It was pretty hard to describe for me how much it means to me that the coaches would even want to do that,” Hixon, 25, said. “I don’t know if I’m really quite worthy of it, but I’m pretty honored that they would do that.”
The pair teamed up a year and a half ago when Hixon’s former synchro partner—Olympic silver medalist Sam Dorman—retired, and the former Hoosier teammates have used that bond to become one of the most dynamic synchro duos in the sport.
“I think him and I both have some lofty goals, but when we’re both on our game, I think we can compete with anyone in the world and we really believe that,” Hixon said.
They have quickly proven that as well, winning both the 2018 winter national championships and 2019 national championships, and going on to medal at a 2019 World Series stop, the Pan American Games Lima 2019 and a 2020 grand prix.
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Capobianco redshirted his junior season to train for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, but his first two collegiate seasons have led to an impressive resume as a four-time All-American at the NCAA Championships, NCAA 3-meter champion and Big 10 Diver of the Year.
“That kid, he just got so much better so quickly,” Hixon said of Capobianco. “Not just learning dives but mastering his dives. A dive that he was wasn’t doing yet (in 2018) was a front four-and-a-half and now he probably has one of the best front four-and-a-halfs in the world.”
Capobianco is grateful to dive alongside and learn from an Olympic medalist, but Hixon, who graduated Indiana in 2018 and still trains there, said he doesn’t need to need guide his partner much.
“I mostly try to stay out of his way,” Hixon said. “I think in diving, like anything else really, the best teacher is experience. He’s getting out there. He’s getting in those big meets.”
Capobianco said his NCAA experience has been invaluable to his readiness to compete at the international level.
“I think it’s really great because the NCAA has the best of the best—and the best not only even in the country but all over the world,” he said. “At NCAAs you’re able to dive against all of these great people and you're able to see what the competition will be like.”
With the Tokyo Games postponed a full year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the pair must wait longer for a shot at their Tokyo dreams, and both divers know that dream means just as much for their university as it does themselves.
“It means a lot to be part of a program that has had great divers before,” Hixon said. "It’s sort of up to us to make sure they have great divers from here on out.”