Maria Coburn and Alison Gibson practice ahead of the women's 3-meter sychnro springboard final at the Budapest 2017 FINA World Championships on July 17, 2017 in Budapest, Hungary.
As Maria Coburn practiced last week ahead of the USA Diving National Championships, coach Dwight Dumais couldn’t help but be impressed with his 15-year-old rising star.
“The best thing about her is that she works tirelessly,” said Dumais, the co-head diving coach at Longhorn Aquatics in Austin, Texas. “She wants to get better every day.”
Case in point, Dumais noted Coburn’s difficult 305C dive — a reverse 2 1/2 somersault tuck — that she was honing ahead of the national championships, which culminate with the men’s and women’s senior finals in 3-meter and 10-meter competition Friday and Saturday at Ohio State’s McCorkle Aquatic Center in Columbus.
“The first one she did, if she did it in a final, would score 7.0-7.5,” Dumais said. “Instead of saying, ‘OK, that’s good enough. I want to move on,’ she wanted to make it better and better. She does two more and they go flying over. So she does a fourth one. She has to understand, ‘We’re at a meet. The training is done. You have to dance with the girl you brought to the dance.’”
Coburn, a Round Rock, Texas, native, comes into the meet as the defending champion on the 1- and 3-meter springboard. She will attempt to repeat in the 1-meter competition on Tuesday and the 3-meter on Saturday.
The USA Diving National Championships are part of the 2017 Team USA Summer Champions Series, presented by Comcast, which showcases numerous Olympic sports throughout the season, highlighting the year-round quest of U.S. athletes to compete at the Olympic Games.
However, with the FINA World Championships being held less than a month ago in Budapest, Hungary, some top divers have elected to bypass the national championships, opening a window for Coburn and other young divers to step into the spotlight.
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“I think there’s a little more competition among the divers,” Coburn said. “It’s weird not having [the 2016 Olympians] here, but there are still a lot of good divers. Now I know I can move up hopefully and take their place.”
Coburn and Alison Gibson are two of the world championships participants who are competing in Columbus. Individually, Coburn was 22nd and Gibson placed 26th in 1-meter springboard on July 15. Coburn and Gibson paired up to place 11th overall in the 3-meter synchronized competition.
Another diver to watch in the women’s 3-meter competition is Bridget O’Neil, who finished 9th at the world championships trials earlier this year.
Coburn, who also competed in the age-group competition at nationals, finishing first in both the 16-18 girls’ 1-meter and 3-meter, is hoping to continue the momentum in the senior level, so long as she can conquer that pesky 305C.
“I have some mental blocks on gainers. It’s been hard to get past,” Coburn said. “I just have to know I can do it and get past it. The first couple of times I had to trick myself into thinking it is just another dive.”
Here are some other divers to keep an eye on this weekend.
Laura Wilkinson Makes Her Return in Women’s Platform
While the young guns might be the focus in the 3-meter springboard, the return of the venerable champion Laura Wilkinson is one of the top storylines for the women’s 10-meter platform. Wilkinson, a three-time Olympian and the gold medalist at the Olympic Games Sydney 2000, retired from competing in 2008. Now, at 39, Wilkinson is ready to make her comeback. She placed first at the Texas All Star Challenge and was second at the Zone B championships.
Murphy Bromberg, a native of nearby Bexley, Ohio, might be one of the divers to push Wilkinson in the platform. Bromberg, who is battling an injury and hadn’t committed to the competition, was third at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, just missing out a spot on Team USA. Also watch out for Olivia Rosendahl, a diver from Northwestern who captured the school’s first NCAA diving championships with the platform title in March.
Fresh Off Worlds, Jordan Windle Looks To Continue Shining In Men’s Events
Eighteen-year-old Jordan Windle comes into the men’s 3- and 10-meter competitions as a diver to watch following his world championships debut last month on the platform. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native was fourth on the platform at last year’s Olympic trials and placed 26th in Budapest.
Windle, who will compete at Texas this fall, will go against a strong platform field that includes defending national champion Zach Cooper and Max Flory, who swept the three individual events at last year’s junior national championships and was fifth at the 2017 world championship trials. Ben Bramley, who was third at last year’s winter national championships, and Ohio State’s Christopher Law could also be contenders.
In the 3-meter, Windle faces a strong field of competitors including future Texas teammate Grayson Campbell, who took eighth in 3-meter at the 2017 NCAA championships. Purdue’s Joey Cifelli enters the meet after taking fourth at the world championship trials. Law, Greg Duncan and Cam Thatcher are among the other contenders.
Paul Batterson is sportswriter from Columbus, Ohio. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.