BUDAPEST, Hungary – 2016 Olympic silver medalist Steele Johnson (Carmel, Ind./West Lafayette, Ind.) competed internationally for the first time with new partner Brandon Loschiavo (Huntington Beach, Calif./West Lafayette, Ind.) and the duo finished sixth in synchronized 10-meter Monday at the FINA World Championships. Also on Monday Maria Coburn (Round Rock, Texas) and Alison Gibson (Austin, Texas) finished 11th in women’s synchronized 3-meter.
Johnson and Loschiavo finished with 406.83 points. China’s Chen Aisen and Yang Hao won gold with 498.48, and Russia’s Viktor Minibaev and Aleksandr Bondar scored 458.85 for silver. Patrick Hausding and Sascha Klein of Germany took the bronze with 440.82 points.
The American pair had a consistent day, with the duo scoring 406.58 for eighth in the afternoon preliminaries. They scored no lower than 72 points on any of their eight optionals over two lists, and three of their dives scored more than 80 points, including their final dive of the day – a back 2 ½ with 2 ½ twists that earned 83.16 points.
Johnson won Olympic silver in this event with three-time Olympian David Boudia in 2016 after making his debut on the world stage in 2014. With this being just Loschiavo’s second international meet and first World Championships, Johnson was impressed with the way his new partner performed in his debut on the world stage.
“I’m proud of Brandon for the way he dove. I’m really proud of his ability to stay in the moment. If he missed something, he’d come right back with a good dive. He’s in a position I was in back in 2014 with David (Boudia). I know exactly what he’s thinking, what he’s feeling, but the way he keeps his demeanor and the handles the pressure and just really enjoys it is inspiring to me,” Johnson said. “I love diving next to him, and I’m excited to see how this synchro pairing grows as we train together every day for the next few years.”
Loschiavo said having the veteran next to him certainly helped.
“I could have fixed a few things here and there, but I’m pretty happy with my performance. Having Steele next to me was really helpful so I could try to follow him and have the same demeanor as him,” Loschiavo said. “We can definitely grow from this.”
Coburn and Gibson tallied a five-dive total of 252.42 points in a meet in which they initially weren’t slated to compete together. Coburn had qualified for the World Championships in 3-meter synchro with Olympian Kassidy Cook, but Cook withdrew due to injury. USA Diving’s coaching staff determined Gibson would fill the spot to dive with Coburn, and the duo has had limited training together.
China’s Shi Tingmao and Chang Yani scored 333.30 to win the women’s 3-meter synchro gold. Jennifer Abel and Melissa Citrini Beaulieu of Canada took silver with 323.43 points, and the Russian pair of Nadezhda Bazhina and Kristina Ilinykh were third with 312.60 points.
The two American teens were sixth with 283.65 points in the morning preliminaries but had some struggles in the finals when they scored no higher than 59.52 on any of their dives. They scored more than 60 points on all three of their optional dives in the preliminaries.
Diving events at the FINA World Championships continue through July 22. Tuesday’s competition features Jessica Parratto (Dover, N.H./Bloomington, Ind.) and Delaney Schnell (Tucson, Ariz.) in individual women’s 10-meter and David Dinsmore (New Albany, Ohio/Miami, Fla.) and Krysta Palmer (Carson City, Nev./Reno, Nev.) in the mixed team event.