As two synchronized diving events came to an end within minutes of each other at the U.S. Olympic Trials Friday night, it was two 2016 Olympians who confirmed their return to the Games alongside younger teammates who will make their Olympic debuts in Tokyo.
Delaney Schnell and Jessica Parratto won the women’s synchronized platform after a three-round, 15-dive total score of 930 points. They led Katrina Young, also a 2016 Olympian, and Murphy Bromberg by 23.46 after the semifinal, and maintained their lead throughout the final, ultimately winning by 41.46 points.
“It’s totally overwhelming, it doesn’t even feel real yet,” Schnell told reporter Kelli Stavast on NBCSN. “I’m shaking. It’s been my dream since I was 4 years old and in gymnastics.”
Minutes later, Andrew Capobianco and Michael Hixon finished the men’s synchronized springboard final with a cumulative 1289.37 points, with a margin of 120.57 over Gregory Duncan and Grayson Campbell.
“It’s insane,” Capobianco said of making his first Olympic team. “All thanks to Michael and all the hard work we put in, so I’m just really excited.”
The four join Alison Gibson and Krysta Palmer, who won the women’s synchronized springboard on the first night of finals in Indianapolis.
Schnell, 22, and Parratto, 26, had competed together at three meets in 2019 but had no plans to team up again for Olympic Trials.
That changed when Parratto’s partner of much of the past four years, Tarrin Gilliland, withdrew due to injury.
“It’s crazy,” Parratto said of making the team. “We came together weeks ago, realizing that we’d be a great pair, and I’m just so proud of this girl next to me. I couldn’t be happier right now.”
The daughter of Mike Parratto, an accomplished swimming coach whose athletes include 12-time Olympic medalist Jenny Thompson and current Olympic hopeful Regan Smith, Parratto competed at the Rio Olympics in both the individual (placing 10th) and synchro events (seventh with Amy Cozad Magaña).
Both Parratto and Schnell are in contention for individual platform spots on the Olympic team as well, sitting in third and fourth heading into Sunday’s final. The U.S. will send two divers in each individual event. Schnell, the 2019 World bronze medalist in individual platform, is seven points out from second place and competing in two Olympic events, while Parratto is nine points behind her in fourth. Young and Bromberg lead those standings.
“I am definitely ready for this, I feel like I’m the best I’ve ever been, and obviously she’s amazing as well, so I’m just really excited to fight to get on that podium in Tokyo,” Parratto said.
Capobianco, 21, and Hixon, 26, have been preparing for Olympic Trials for two and a half years. The Hoosiers teamed up immediately after Sam Dorman‘s retirement in late 2018.
Hixon, both a 2010 Youth Olympian and 2016 Olympian, and Dorman had won the Olympic silver medal in their international debut together in Rio, plus a World Series bronze medal in 2018.
Once Indiana coach Drew Johansen paired then-freshman Capobianco with redshirt senior Hixon, the new team quickly won the 2018 Winter Trials together. They have since earned the 2019 Pan American Games bronze medal, plus a bronze at a 2019 World Series event.
Capobianco and Hixon finished fourth at the 2021 World Cup in May, securing the U.S. an Olympic spot in the men’s synchronized springboard event in Tokyo.
Both divers will aim to qualify in the individual event on Sunday. Hixon is currently in third, less than a point out from Campbell in second. Capobianco is some 48 points behind him in sixth. Four-time Olympic medalist David Boudia leads that event after the semifinal.
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