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Four more spots on the US Diving Olympic Team were earned Saturday following competitions in the women’s 3-meter springboard and the men’s 10-meter platform at the US Olympic Team Trials in Federal Way, WA.

Cassidy Krug and Olympian Christina Loukas are heading to London as part of the 2012 US Olympic Team and will compete in the women’s 3-meter springboard, while Olympian David Boudia and Nick McCrory, who won Thursday night in the men’s 10-meter synchro platform, finished atop the men’s individual 10-meter standings Saturday at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

Krug scored 1094.85 points, while Loukas finished with 1017.85 points to finish second. Loukas competed at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Krug started with 79.50 points on her first dive, an inward 2 ½, and scored 75 points or higher on three other dives during the competition.

Loukas headed into the finals in second place. She scored 72 points or higher on three other dives, including 76.50 on her back 2 ½ in the first round.

Boudia finished with 1642.40 points, with McCrory placing second with 1582.55.

Boudia scored more than 100 points on two dives in the finals, earning one 10 for 102.60 points on his back 3 ½ pike and receiving three 9.5s for 101.75 points on his front 4 ½ tuck.

McCrory earned an incredible six 10s of his own, including five on a back 3 ½ tuck for 99 points. He had another 10 on a reverse 3 ½ tuck that scored 92.40 points. He also scored 97.20 points on his back 2 ½ with 2 ½ twists.

Olympic diving legend, Greg Louganis, helped present the glass awards to Boudia and McCrory and shortly afterward he bumped McCrory and knocked the award to the ground, shattering it. Louganis quickly started to pick up the shards of glass and managed to cut himself in the process. He was clearly embarrassed, and a few minutes later presented a new glass award to McCrory.

On Friday night, Troy Dumais became a four-time Olympian when he and diving partner Kristian Ipsen won the men’s synchronized 3-meter title.

Saturday’s event had an all-time attendance record at the King County Aquatic Center.

 

David Boudia
Olympic diving legend, Greg Louganis, helped present awards to
David Boudia, and Nick McCrory. Louganis is shown getting ready to hug
Boudia, who will attend his second Olympic games in London.

 

David Boudia2
David Boudia at the US Diving Olympic Team Trials.

 

Steele
Steele Johnson, left, and David Boudia practice before Saturday’s
10-meter platform competition at the US Diving Olympic Team Trials.

 

Christo Law
Christo Law prepares for a dive during a practice session at the US Diving
Olympic Team Trials.

By Ernie Geigenmiller

The 2012 US Olympic Diving Team’s first four athletes were announced to the world Thursday night at the finals for the Women’s synchronized 3m and the Men’s synchronized 10m at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, WA.

Kelci Bryant (a 2008 Olympian) and Abby Johnston came out ahead in an extremely close women’s synchronized 3-meter contest. They barely edged out 2008 Olympian Christina Loukas and Kassidy Cook, who have gotten a lot of recent press attention.  The winning score was 956.40, just .42 seconds ahead of Loukas and Cook.

It was dramatic.

Meanwhile David Boudia and Nick McCrory dominated the men’s synchronized 10-meter event. Boudia, a 2008 Olympian is excited about the win, and said: “we have a lot of hard work to do in the next three to four weeks.”

Boudia and McCrory had a solid lead going into the finals, as scores at the Trials are cumulative (prelims, semi-finals, and finals). Second place went to the Toby Stanley/Steele Johnson duo. They also had a stellar performance.

 

Synchro
Kelci Bryant and Abby Johnston won the Women’s Synchronized 3m contest
and will head to London for the 2012 Olympic Games.

 

 

 

Diving
Nick McCrory and David Boudia won the 10m Synchro, and will
head to the Olympics in London this summer.
 

“We are so proud of the boys,” said Bill Johnson, Steele’s father. “Boudia deserved to be on the Olympic team and he will do a great job representing the United States.”

Olympic gold medalist and diving legend, Greg Louganis, was on-hand to witness the events. He spoke to several spectators and was happy for the winners.

Boudia’s fans sat together wearing blue shirts and screamed for joy at the results. “We’re so thrilled for them!” said one supporter.

2008 Olympian, Thomas Finchum, hopes to be a two-time Olympian as he competes in Saturday’s 10m individual events. “I’ve had to deal with several injuries,” he said. “But I’m doing well and hope things will turn out for the best this Saturday.”

Finchum spent a lot of time with fans Thursday night signing autographs.

“The boys did great tonight!” said Jill Johnson, Steele’s mother. “I could tell by the way Steele was acting before it started that he would do well. He was having fun and it showed in his dives. Our goal has always been Rio in 2016, and it was great to see the boys make a strong showing tonight.”

Our next report will be on the 10m platform finals.

 

 

Diving Duo
Steele Johnson and Toby Stanley placed 2nd
in the Men’s 10m Synchro.
 

Trials. It all comes down to a few dives.

The Men’s and Women’s 10m Synchronized Platform dives head into Finals Thursday night at the 2012 US Diving Olympic Trials in Federal Way, WA, with the top pair from each division earning a place on the US Olympic Diving team.

2008 Olympic swimmer David Boudia and his partner, Nick McCrory, head into the finals with a solid first place position, based on scores from Sunday’s semi-finals. The diving duo made up of teens Toby Stanley and Steele Johnson were in second place, followed by the Steele Johnson/Dash Enos duo.

Johnson, who we’ve been following, had a rough day Tuesday in the 10m Platform prelims but finished the event with a solid 407C dive.

“I’m just going to go have fun,” he said.

And he will.

David Boudia
2008 Olympian David Boudia prepares prior to a dive
at the 2012 US Diving Olympic Trials.
Johnson
Steele smiling.

Since we’ve been following the journey of Steele Johnson, and his diving partners, Dash Enos and Toby Stanley, we’ll report those results first. After Men’s 10m Synchro Prelims and Semi Finals, Steele Johnson and Toby Stanley are in 2nd place; and Steele and Dash are in 3rd. These world-class divers did very well, and are just behind Olympian David Boudia and Nick McCrory (who is trying to make his first Olympics). A full detailed report is in the works and will be posted on Monday.

USA Divers
From left to right: World-class divers Toby Stanley, Steele Johnson, and Dash Enos
at the first day of the 2012 US Diving Olympic Trials at Federal Way, WA.


Steele Johnson
Steele Johnson, left, and Dash Enos practice a 10m platform dive.


10m Platform
Steele Johnson, left, and Dash Enos practice a 10m platform dive.

 

This is Part 2 in a series on Olympic diving hopeful Steele Johnson as he competes at the 2012 US Diving Olympic Trials in Federal Way, WA.

By Ernie Geigenmiller

Steele Johnson. It’s not everyday a 16-year-old gets to compete in front of a national audience, but that’s what happens today at the King County Aquatic Center, host of the 2012 US Diving Olympic Trials.

Steele1
Steele Johnson at a recent competition. Photo courtesy of Michael Thomas.
Used with his permission.

But Steele Johnson, the 16-year-old diver from Carmel, Indiana, isn’t your everyday teenager. You see, he’s used to performing before national and international audiences. The 10-time national champion continues to impress audiences and peers with his amazing, spot-on performances, which are buoyed by his sheer drive and determination. These are traits that will carry the young man through perhaps his most challenging week of competition.

At stake is a spot on the 2012 US Olympic Diving Team. Some 120 US divers from all around the country have been practicing these last few days at King County Aquatic Center in preparation to earn one of those coveted spots.

Those of you reading this that are in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s or beyond, can you imagine at 16 what is going on through this young man’s head? I can’t. Most people would run away from the sheer thought.

During my two previous interviews with Steele, he emphasized focus. “If I just focus on what needs to be done; if I do every dive the best I can I will earn a spot on that team,” he said. “I just have to get the job done. “

Focus. Determination. Confidence.

First up are the 10m platform synchro dives with partners Tobias Stanley and Dashiell Enos, who in their own right are amazing divers. The duos are performing two voluntary dives, and four optional dives. They will perform the 103B, 301B, 207C, 107B, 5253B and 407C dives.

What does that mean?

Well, it’s best to understand the components first.

According to USA Diving: Dives are described by their full name (e.g. reverse 3 1/2 somersault with 1/2 twist) or by their numerical identification (e.g. 5371D), or “dive number.” Twisting dives utilize four numerical digits, while all other dives use three. Specific dive numbers are not random — they are created by using these guidelines:

  1. All dives are identified by three or four digits and one letter.
  2. The first digit indicates the dive’s group: 1 = forward, 2 = back, 3 = reverse, 4 = inward, 5 = twisting, 6 = armstand
  3. In front, back, reverse and inward dives, a 1 as the second digit indicates a flying action. A ‘0’ indicates none. In twisting and armstand dives, the second digit indicates the dive’s group (forward, back, reverse).
  4. The third digit indicates the number of half somersaults.
  5. The fourth digit, if applicable, indicates the number of half twists.
  6. The letter indicates body position: A = straight, B = pike, C = tuck, D = free.

Pretty technical stuff.

For his individual 10m platform dives, Steele will perform six other dives, as well. These include: 5253B, 207C, 107B, 6245D (this is the handstand, with a 3.6 degree of difficulty), 307C (with a 3.3 degree of difficulty) and the 407C.

To translate this, for example, the 107B is a forward dive with 3 ½ somersaults in a pike position.

Piece of cake, right?

He only makes it look easy. This is what he trains for six days a week. This is his job. And he’s darn good at it.

Focus. Determination. Confidence.

Steele Johnson, bottom, and Tobias Stanley, at a recent competition.

Steele’s Friends Speak Out

His best friend, Jake Smith, says Steele looks at diving as his job – a job for which he has an intense passion.

“He’s a very determined person,” said Smith. “Diving is his total passion, and he’s completely committed to it.”

Several others from Carmel have said the same thing.

Corina Redmon, one of Steele’s church youth leaders said: “He has a confidence in himself, but is not arrogant. Steele and his coach feel they’re going to accomplish this.”

Smith says Steele looks at this as his job, and plans to get the job done. “I really feel he’ll do this,” he added.

As for Steele himself, he told me on the eve of opening day: “I’m feeling ready to go.”

The competition opens at 3 pm PDT with the women’s synchro performances, which will be followed by the men’s synchros.

Showtime.

If Steele has any doubts he’s not showing it. He has an entire church and community sending prayers his way. And, it goes way beyond that — but that’s for another article.

“We all pray Steele will be focused,” said Redmon. “He has our full support.”

Steele4
Steele Johnson did well at the Pan American Games in Colombia.

After the intensity of the moment fades, and after competitors dry off and put on their street clothes, Steele will return to the normalcy of being a normal teen.

Well, kinda.

My guess is he’ll turn on his handy camera to videotape the last part of the day’s events – and sign off with a polite “goodnight.”

Since May, the Olympic hopeful records some of the most mundane aspects of his life – and manages to make it funny. His uncle, Jack Lugar, just shakes his head. “Yes, that’s our Steele. He’s a great kid! He has a lot of talent.”

He has dedicated himself to taping every day of his life for 365 days. My third son, Jordan, told me: “Steele says nothing better than anybody I know. He’s hilarious!”

A budding second career? Perhaps. But for now, we’re just focusing on the Olympic Trials.

He’s ready. Are you?

The next article, Part 3, will focus on Steele Johnson, the son, the friend, and the person. Diving is a major part of his life, but there’s a whole other side. It’s actually quite remarkable, too.

 

By Ernie Geigenmiller

This is Part 1 in a series on Olympic diving hopeful Steele Johnson as he arrives at Federal Way, WA, home to the 2012 US Diving Olympic Team Trials.

At age 2, Steele Johnson decided he loved doing front flips. Two years later, he stunned his parents again by performing back flips. As time marched on, it was clear he loved to leap off high places and had an affinity for the water.

“Mom thought I was getting dangerous,” Johnson said. “So she enrolled me in a diving class when I was 8. She wanted to make sure I didn’t hurt myself.”

Once he started diving, it became his passion, and eventually the soccer cleats and lacrosse gear were put away. Diving became his focus.

A diver was born.

 

Steele at 14
10-time national champion, Steele Johnson, competes
in Germany earlier this year. He turns 16 this Saturday.
 

He recalls those first few weeks of diving practice near his Carmel, Indiana home. “For the first two weeks of diving, we were just jumping off boards,” he said. “It was fun.”

He took a real liking to the sport and within three years, the young diver began traveling with elite athletes who were much older. His first traveling event was at Harvard in 2007 when he was just 11 years old.

“There I was, not even five feet tall,” he recalled. “And I was standing on the 10 meter platform with college kids. It was so intimidating to be so small and stand on that platform. And it was awkward, too. None of my teammates would talk to me, and I was lonely. So, I just focused on getting the job done.”

He got the job done, and swept both events.

He then went onto London and won two gold medals and a silver.

“I absolutely love to dive,” Johnson said. “It’s a great sport, and I’ve been blessed with great coaches, and supportive family and friends.”

Johnson is coached by John Wingfield, who is the Head Coach for the USA Diving Team. He has trained with Olympians David Boudia and Thomas Finchum and feels blessed to be associated with such great people.

 

Steele and Toby
Steele Johnson, bottom, does the 10m synchro
with diving partner Tobias Stanley. This is
one of the events he will compete in this upcoming
week at the Olympic Trials in Federal Way, WA.
 

His diving team practices six days a week from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm (Saturday is a half day) and then he does schoolwork through the Laurel Springs Academy, which is a home school program that helps elite athletes. The team does “dryland” practice for two hours a day (trampoline, dryboard, mats, conditioning, weight training) and then hits the pool to dive.

Johnson started turning heads in 2008 when he swept all events at a Junior National competition. A year later, he competed in the Junior Pan American Games and placed fourth in the 3-meter synchro, second in the 1-meter and got gold in the 3-meter and platform dives. In 2011, he won four golds and one silver at Junior Nationals.

He’s also trained and spent time with Olympic diver and gold medalist, Greg Louganis. And one NBC sports commentator hailed him as “part of the future of diving.”

“That’s a big honor,” Johnson said of the comment. “But I just think of it as what I do every day. This is a God-given gift I’ve been blessed with. And it’s a lot of hard work, early mornings and lots of late nights, but it’s all worth it … I get my drive from the love I have for the sport.”

Sports Illustrated posted a brief on Johnson in their Faces in the Crowd section last September: “ Steele, a sophomore at Laurel Springs, won gold medals in four of five events at junior nationals in Knoxville, Tenn., to become a 10-time national champion and earn a spot on the U.S. team at this week’s Junior Pan-Americans. He won individual gold in the three-meter and platform events and paired with Dashiell Enos to win the synchronized three-meter and platform. A week later he was the youngest diver at nationals to advance to the men’s individual platform finals, finishing sixth.”

US Diving Buddies
Steele Johnson with fellow members of the US Diving Team.  Steele
is standing between diving partners Tobias Stanley (left) and Dashiell Enos.

He qualified for the Olympic Trials in 2010 by scoring in the top 12 at Junior World’s competition for the 10m platform. In 2011, his accomplishments at Summer Junior National’s qualified him for every diving event that is happening next week.

And that brings him to the Olympic Trials, which begin June 17. It’s a tough competition. Approximately 120 divers are competing for 14 spots on the US Olympic Diving Team.

Several sports writers are touting him as a favorite for the 2016 Olympic Games, and believe the Federal Way trials will be a good experience for the soon-to-be 16-year-old. Johnson will compete in the Men’s 10m Platform Individual and the Men’s 10m Syncro (with Tobias Stanley and Dashiell Enos). He thinks they all make a great team.

 


With Coach
Steele Johnson won a gold medal at the Pan American Games
in Columbia in 2011.
 

“It’s going to be a tough competition,” said Johnson. “If I go and do every dive the best I can, I will get a spot on the Olympic team. I will have a smile on my face, I will be focused and I will do the best I can.”

When he spoke those words, his demeanor turned into what I would call a gracious confidence, or a calm determination. It was like my experience a few days ago with one of my baseball players. I asked him to do his best, and get a base hit. His reply: “Coach, I’m going to hit a triple.” And he did. But as he spoke those words to me his eyes and whole demeanor exuded a pure and calm confidence.

Steele exuded that same confidence – no cockiness, overconfidence or any element of fear. I can only guess, but he must have been thinking: “I’m good at this, I will do it – it’s what I’ve been preparing to do. I’m ready.”

I used the term “gracious confidence” to describe his remarks because there was an element of humility and gratitude in his voice. He sounded grateful to have these gifts, and confident he could get the job done.

This teenager has a steely resolve.

The next article will focus on the specifics of his dives, the aura of the Olympics and Johnson’s budding second career in front of, and behind the camera.