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Olympic medalists headline U.S. roster for diving worlds

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Three Olympic medalists headline the U.S. roster for the world diving championships, but David Boudia is absent for the first time since 2003.

Trials concluded Sunday in Indianapolis, where Olympic synchro platform silver medalist Steele Johnson made his first worlds team on the 3m springboard.

Johnson teamed in Rio with the 2012 Olympic platform champion Boudia, who is not competing this international season and may retire.

At world trials, Johnson was edged on the 3m springboard by Olympic synchro springboard silver medalist Michael Hixon, but both made the team as the U.S. can enter two divers per individual event at worlds.

Sam Dorman, who teamed with Hixon for that Rio silver, was fourth in the 3m springboard semifinals at trials and 90.9 points out of second place. With standings cumulative, he had a low chance of getting on the worlds team in the event and scratched out of finals.

MORE: U.S. Diving Trials Results

Still, Dorman previously made the worlds team in synchro springboard with Hixon. Each diver can build off his Olympic silver with a first world championships medal in Budapest in July.

Johnson qualified for three events at worlds — 1m and 3m springboard, plus the synchro platform with new partner Brandon Loschiavo. The 20-year-old Johnson previously competed at the 2015 Worlds, but not in any individual events. He finished 13th in the individual platform in Rio, one spot shy of making the finals.

Johnson took a break from the pounding of platform training after Rio but said his focus for worlds remains on the synchro platform rather than his individual springboard events.

With Dorman, Hixon and Johnson, the U.S. team at worlds boasts three Olympic men’s medalists. There are no Olympic medalists on the women’s side, but Rio Olympians Jessica Parratto (platform, synchro platform) and Kassidy Cook (synchro springboard) are back.

Perhaps the most promising member of the team is Tarrin Gilliland, a 14-year-old who will compete in both the women’s and mixed synchro platform events. Gilliland was third in the individual platform Sunday, missing the two-woman worlds team in that event by .05 of a point.

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MORE: Chinese diving legend emotionally retires

U.S. roster for World Diving Championships

Men’s 3m Springboard
Michael Hixon (Olympian)
Steele Johnson (Olympian)

Women’s 3m Springboard
Brooke Schultz
Krysta Palmer

Men’s Platform
David Dinsmore
Jordan Windle

Women’s Platform
Jessica Parratto (Olympian)
Delaney Schnell

Men’s 1m Springboard

Michael Hixon (Olympian)
Steele Johnson (Olympian)

Women’s 1m Springboard
Maria Coburn
Alison Gibson

Men’s Synchro Springboard
Sam Dorman (Olympian)
Michael Hixon (Olympian)

Women’s Synchro Springboard
Maria Coburn
Kassidy Cook (Olympian)

Men’s Synchro Platform
Steele Johnson (Olympian)
Brandon Loschiavo

Women’s Synchro Platform
Tarrin Gilliland
Jessica Parratto (Olympian)

Mixed Synchro Springboard
Briadam Herrera
Lauren Reedy

Mixed Synchro Platform
Andrew Capobianco
Tarrin Gilliland

U.S. diving moves on without David Boudia

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ATLANTA (AP) — These days, the pool deck seems a little empty for the U.S. diving team.

Someone’s missing.

David Boudia.

He was the stalwart of the American program for the better part of the decade, the guy who usually came through at the biggest meets.

“It’s going to be weird … not having David there,” said Steele Johnson, a good friend of Boudia’s and former synchronized partner. “But at the same time, it’s a new generation.”

After winning two more Olympic medals in Rio, Boudia decided to take a year off and may be done for good. His wife is having their second child, and there’s not much left to accomplish at age 27.

With a little over three years to go before the Tokyo Olympics, the U.S. is already moving toward filling the huge hole that Boudia’s retirement would leave.

“I’m sure everyone has felt that same way about other people,” Johnson said. “Like when Mark Ruiz retired or Laura Wilkinson first retired, all these awesome people, it’s always different. But it’s a good change. Generational change needs to happen.”

MORE: Wilkinson unretries

There are some experienced divers for the U.S. team to build around, including Johnson, a silver medalist with Boudia in synchronized platform at the Rio Games last summer, and the springboard team of Sam Dorman and Michael Hixon, who also captured a silver in synchro springboard.

Several promising youngsters are working their way up, as well, most notably 14-year-old Tarrin Gilliland.

During a recent meet in Atlanta, the Texas teen qualified for a pair of synchronized events at the July world championships in Budapest, Hungary. Gilliland paired with Olympian Jessica Parratto to win the women’s platform and joined Andrew Capobianco to claim victory in the mixed platform, a non-Olympic event.

Yep, it’s going to be quite a summer break for the high school freshman.

“The plan is to keep getting stronger and healthier and start getting my dives more consistent, and maybe add some (degree of difficulty) in there,” Gilliland said. “And just have fun during the process.”

Everyone realizes that not having Boudia puts a huge burden on the rest of the divers to step up their performances, especially if they want to have any chance against the powerful Chinese team.

Boudia had a hand in two of the three diving medals the Americans won in Rio, also taking an individual bronze in the platform.

He also captured two medals in London, including a stunning gold in 10-meter — the first Olympic win for the U.S. in a dozen years — along with a synchronized bronze off the big tower.

Throw in Boudia’s performances at the next-biggest meet on the calendar, and it’s clear how much he meant to the program. Over the last five world championships, he earned four silvers and a bronze.

“David Boudia obviously offered a lot of leadership and he had a lot of experience, so he was a role model to a lot of us,” said Kassidy Cook, a Rio Olympian. “But I think that a lot of other people, like Sam and Mikey and me, we can pick up where he kind of left us off. He’s left us with a lot of good advice and some good leadership roles to fill in. Although we will miss him if he doesn’t come back, we can definitely keep up the positive attitude and hard-working vibes transitioning into this next Olympics.”

Boudia still takes time to mentor Johnson and other young divers based in Indiana.

But Johnson, who is only 20, knows it will be on him and the other Olympic veterans to work with those who haven’t experienced those sort of high-pressure meets.

“Leading into the Olympic year, I really learned from David, through all the World Series meets, how to really handle each competition with different environments and different competitors,” Johnson recalled. “It’s just a lot of learning over these next few years, but it’s a lot of fun interaction with each other.”

He is eager to see how divers such as Gilliland and 15-year-old Maria Coburn, who qualified for worlds in synchronized 3-meter, fare in Budapest.

No matter what the result, the experience they gain will be invaluable.

“It’s good for them to get their feet wet now, with three years left leading up,” Johnson said. “There’s time for growth. You may not go in and win world championships your first time. You may never win. But you’re going to go into these competitions and you’re going to learn from those experiences. That’s what I did the first couple of years when David and I competed.”

As part of the development process, the coaches have paired of up veterans with some of the most promising newcomers. Parratto has taken Gilliland under her wing. Coburn will compete at worlds with Cook.

Synchro diving has become a huge emphasis for the U.S., contributing heavily to its renewed success at the last two Olympics. The Americans were shut out in both 2004 and 2008, an embarrassing fall for a program that once dominated the international scene with stars such as Greg Louganis. But synchro, in which only eight teams compete in a single round of competition, provides a much better chance of reaching the medal stand.

“Synchro has definitely been a main focus for the United States,” Cook said. “You only have to beat five teams to get on the podium. That is definitely the best shot for a medal at the Olympics and the world championships.”

That will continue to be the strategy heading toward Tokyo.

With or without Boudia.

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MORE: Boudia to decide whether to retire

14-year-old diver qualifies for world championships

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ATLANTA (AP) — Fourteen-year-old Tarrin Gilliland will compete in two synchronized diving events at her first world championships this summer.

The high school freshman from Midland, Texas won the mixed platform Friday with partner Andrew Capobianco at Georgia Tech’s aquatic center, site of diving events during the 1996 Olympics.

On the first day of the national synchronized championships, Gilliland teamed with Olympian Jessica Parratto to capture the women’s platform title.

Four other Olympians also are heading to the worlds in Budapest, Hungary.

Rio silver medalists Sam Dorman and Michael Hixon took the men’s springboard crown, while Steele Johnson, a silver medalist last summer with David Boudia, teamed with new partner Brandon Loschiavo to win men’s platform.

Another Olympian, Kassidy Cook, captured the women’s springboard with her new partner, 15-year-old Maria Coburn.

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MORE: David Boudia to decide whether to retire