INDIANAPOLIS – Four divers punched their tickets to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Wednesday at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials at the IU Natatorium on the campus of IUPUI. Michael Hixon (Amherst, Mass./Bloomington, Ind.) and Sam Dorman (Tempe, Ariz./Miami, Fla.) won the men’s synchronized 3-meter event, and Amy Cozad (Indianapolis, Ind./Bloomington, Ind.) and Jessica Parratto (Dover, N.H./Bloomington, Ind.) finished first in women’s synchronized 10-meter to earn an Olympic berth in that event.
It will be the first Olympics for all four.
Dorman and Hixon just became a synchro team in April and made their first Olympic team after scoring 1308.36 points over three lists of dives in what was their first competition together. The new pairing came at the recommendation of national team coaches and USA Diving’s High Performance Director.
“We punched the ticket, and it’s been a lifelong dream for both of us,” Dorman said.
Both were already among the nation’s best 3-meter divers, but with such limited time together as a synchro team, Dorman said the key was learning how his new partner handled a competition environment.
“I think when we started off, we realized there needed to be a lot of communication and a sense of how we compete and not just how to be synched up. We had to talk to each other and say, ‘Hey, how do you do in meets? How do you work? Do you need to be hyped up? What makes you get all nervous and worked up? How can we both work with each other so we can keep each other’s heads level?’ I think that was the most important part of us doing synchro,” Dorman said.
Hixon said the pair matches up well on dives needed to succeed at the Olympic level, including the difficult front 4 1/2 tuck. Although they missed the dive in the finals, they hit the difficult dive for 91.20 points in both the preliminaries and semifinals.
“There’s a pretty standard list now if you want to win at the Olympics, and it involves the front 4 ½ and both of our twisters. Our inward is also a really solid dive. For us to have those two twisters, a good front 4 ½ and the inward, it really means our strengths complement each other,” Hixon said.
Troy Dumais (Ventura, Calif./Austin, Texas) and Kristian Ipsen (Clayton, Calif./Stanford, Calif.), who won bronze together in at the 2012 Olympics, finished second with 1260.39 points.
Cozad and Parratto clinched their first Olympic berth with 935.76 points over three lists of women’s synchronized 10-meter dives. Like Hixon and Dorman, Cozad and Parratto led heading into the finals.
“We’ve been working so hard for this, for so long. And it’s not even our accomplishment, it’s all the people who have been behind us for years and years and years. So we’re sharing that, I’m sure it will sink in eventually,” Parratto said.
Cozad and Parratto been diving together since the fall of 2014. They placed fourth together at the FINA World Cup in Rio in February to qualify the United States for the Olympic Games. They also competed together at the 2015 FINA World Championships.
“We’ve grown quite a bit as a synchro team, that’s for sure. It’s become second nature really to go off the platform with her; it’s like we don’t have to think about it twice. It helps to have the same coach and dive in the same place. So that’s been really key to our success,” Parratto said.
For Cozad, the key in synchronized diving is focusing on her individual dives.
“We don’t really talk much because the biggest challenge is to focus on your own dive. And to do it the best you possibly can while doing it in sync with somebody else. So that’s the ultimate challenge. You just have to focus and do you,” Cozad said.
Samantha Bromberg (Bexley, Ohio/Austin, Texas) and Delaney Schnell (Tucson, Ariz.) were second at 846.42.
Individual finals in men’s 3-meter and women’s 10-meter are set for Saturday. Parratto heads into the individual finals in first place, with Cozad in third. Hixon is second and Dorman fifth in the men’s 3-meter standings. Two divers will be named to the team in each of those individual events.
The U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Diving continue through Sunday, June 26. Thursday’s competition features the men’s synchronized 10-meter final beginning at 7 p.m.