No matter what happened on the final dive Kristian Ipsen and Troy Dumais were already bound for London. Chris Colwill didn't have that security.
With his Olympic hopes on the line and a sliver of a lead, Colwill's final dive of the U.S. Olympic trials men's 3-meter springboard finals Sunday was the highest scoring dive of the entire competition.
Colwill rallied from third place to win the men's 3-meter springboard, while Dumais held off Ipsen in the final round to finish second and reach his fourth Olympics in the event.
"Competing in the Olympics that definitely was the biggest pressure, but I felt like I did a good job and enjoy myself and have fun and not worry so much about how the event was going to go and embrace the environment," Colwill said.
The other final on Sunday saw Brittany Viola, daughter of 1988 Cy Young Award winning pitcher Frank Viola, win the women's 10-meter platform in her third attempt to make the Olympics.
Viola dominated the competition winning by nearly 60 points ahead of second place Katie Bell, who claimed the other qualifying spot for the London games. Viola scored 86.40 on her second-round dive, an armstand back dive from the platform with 2 somersaults and 1 1/2 twists, getting all 9s from the judges.
"A greater perspective that this is just another meet," Viola said of her previous trials experiences. "Although there are a lot of lights and colors and Olympic rings everywhere it comes down to the diver and the platform and that's something Katie and I can take into the Olympics."
Colwill was third after the preliminaries and third after the semifinals, positions that would have left him on the outside of Olympics if the final held to form. He entered the finals more than 42 points behind Ispen, but was the best of the trio in the finale. He scored at least 74 points on all six of his dives and qualified for his second Olympics in the event. Colwill finished 12th at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Ipsen and Dumais were already headed to London together as the U.S. representative in the synchronized 3-meter springboard competition. For Dumais, it will be his fourth trip, tying Greg Louganis as the only American men to make four Olympic diving teams.
Entering the final round, the three divers were separated by a mere 2.40 points and all three had their favorite dives for their finale. Colwill scored 99.75, the highest of the competition, on a reverse 3 1/2 somersaults on his final dive that because of a higher degree-of-difficulty than the other two, all but clinched the title.
Dumais moved his signature dive, a forward 2 1/2 somersaults with 2 twists pike, to the final round believing the event could come down to the last dive. The decision was a wise one, with Dumais scoring 91.80 and forcing Ispen to score 93.05 on his final dive to tie. Ipsen's final dive was excellent — a reverse 1 1/2 with 3 1/2 twists — but the 91.80 wasn't enough to overcome Duamis' lead for the second Olympic spot.
Ipsen thought initially it was going to be enough.
"I thought I had made it," Ipsen said.
Ipsen led throughout the entire competition until the fifth-round when his reverse 3 1/2 somersaults came up well short and scored just 47.25 points. His entire lead, which had been slightly chipped in to by both Dumais and Colwill, was gone and an audible gasp came from the crowd when the scoreboard showed Ipsen now in third place.
What appeared to be a competition between Colwill and Dumais for the final qualifying spot suddenly became a three-way race for two trips to London.
"I knew this was going to be a nail-biter. I knew it was and that's why I switched my list ... knowing it was going to come down to the last dive," Dumais said. "... I would rather put pressure on a dive that I knew I was capable of doing and luckily it panned out. I knew how to do my last dive."
For Viola, this was her third Olympic trials and she barely missed a trip to Beijing finishing fourth in 2008. She held a comfortable lead going into the finals and never had her Olympic spot threatened. After her 86-point dive in the second round, Viola slipped in the third and fourth rounds, scoring just 43.50 on a back 2 ½ somersault pike in the fourth round. But her final dive, a back 2 1/2 somersault pike with 1 1/2 twists, scored 80.00 and clinched the title.
Viola's dad wasn't able to get away from his job as pitching coach for the Savannah Sand Gnats, the New York Mets' Single-A affiliate, to attend the trials, but told his daughter he would be watching on a clubhouse television today and likely not doing much coaching.
"I know that he is watching every moment," Viola said.
Bell, who stands just 4-foot-11, had Haley Ishimatsu right behind her entering the fourth round, but Ishimatsu missed on her dive and scored just 29.70. It gave Bell enough of a comfortable cushion headed to the final round.
"It's unreal," Bell said. "I was nervous. I knew that I needed to be consistent and dive the way that I had been in practice."