As one of the nation's top divers for nearly a decade, Chris Colwill has turned in plenty of memorable performances in front of his parents. But Chuck and Debbie Colwill say nothing compares to what their son pulled off in Sunday's finals of the men's 3-meter springboard competition at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Federal Way, Wash.
The 27-year-old Brandon native and Tampa Prep graduate wowed his family, friends and spectators at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center by vaulting from third place to first in those last six dives to earn his second straight trip to the Olympic Games.
"Hands-down, that was the most exciting thing I've ever seen from Chris," Chuck Colwill said. "I was as nervous as I could possibly be because I know how good the competition is. I had confidence in him but I knew it was going to be a dog fight and they were going to be scrapping."
Colwill went into Sunday's final trailing first-place Kristian Ipsen by more than 42 points and second-place Troy Dumais by three. But scoring 74 to 86 on the first five of his last six dives, Colwill chipped away at both deficits. When the 19-year-old Ipsen suffered a score of 47.25 on a poor fifth five, the door to first place was open for both Colwill and Dumais on the sixth and final dive. At that point, just 2.40 points separated the three competitors and any of them could have won.
Stepping up on the board, Colwill was greeted with a roaring ovation from his supporters in the crowd. The pressure was on Colwill because after missing the Olympic team in synchronized 3-meter springboard two days earlier, this was his last shot at London. But he said he put any thoughts of failure aside and decided to "have fun with it."
"I didn't really worry about where I was because I've been training a lifetime for this and I know how to do it," Colwill said. "I really didn't focus on missing anything. I just focused on my strong aspects and having a good time."
Colwill produced a near-flawless reverse 31/2 somersault to hit the best score of the competition — 99.75 — and grab his first lead. Despite Dumais scoring 91.80 on his last dive and Ipsen getting a 93.05 on his finale, it wasn't enough to catch Colwill.
The final score for Colwill: 1,457.45, 9.10 ahead of Dumais and 10.35 better than Ipsen.
Colwill isn't going back to the Olympics in synchro 3-meter, an event he just missed earning a medal in the Beijing Games when he and his partner took fourth. But he gets a second shot a 3-meter individual, where he finished 12th in the 2008 Olympics.
"I'm definitely aware now of what I have to do to place well in the Olympics," Colwill said. "Instead of using up all my energy and resources in the prelims, I need to save up and focus on firing on cylinders in the finals."
Meanwhile, Brittany Viola, in her third attempt to make the Olympics, won the women's 10-meter platform.
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 11/2 twists, getting all 9s from the judges. She scored 80.00 on her final dive that clinched the title.