NewsDivingOlympic Diving Trials

Where to Watch: 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Diving

by Brendan Rourke

Tyler Downs smiling and making a heart shape with his hands
Getty Images

Tyler Downs poses during the World Aquatics Diving World Cup 2024 on April 20, 2024 in Xi An, China.

  • When

    • June 17-23 (Knoxville, Tenn.)
  • Watch

    • Women’s Synchro Platform Finals will be on Peacock and USA Network. Other heats will be on Peacock and NBC

At the midway mark of May, a total of 138 American divers have qualified for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Diving via USA Diving, AQUA, NCAA, Junior Nationals or other internationally recognized diving competitions. The vast number of elite twirlers and tumblers are gearing up to compete against one another for a roster spot for the Olympic Games Paris 2024. Some divers are choosing to hang their hopes on qualifying in one discipline, while others are slated to compete in several events. The most contested event of trials will be the 3-meter springboard, as 80 of the qualified divers have posted a high enough score to participate.

Jess Parratto poses during the Team USA Paris 2024 Olympic Portrait Shoot on Nov. 15, 2023 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Getty Images)

Like several Olympic sports, qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team in diving is a multi-phase process, which culminates in a high-stakes trials event where the top finishers will be nominated to represent Team USA in Paris. An Olympic diving team can consist of up to eight men and eight women, depending on the number of entry positions that American divers have opened up during the course of the diving season at international events such at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships and the Pan American Games Santiago 2023.

Per the NBC Olympics research team, the U.S. successfully opened 11 out of a possible 12 quota spots for Paris. The lone discipline that the U.S. currently does not have open roster spots for is men’s synchronized platform. To individually qualify for Team USA for Paris 2024, a diver must finish either first or second after cumulative scores from the semifinal and final rounds in Knoxville are tallied. A synchro pair will need to finish in first place in order to qualify.

Diving tends to be a tricky sport to dissect as any athlete can have an off-night and score low with the judges. Thus, the storylines heading into trials will highlight a few athletes, along with a few potential firsts and fun things to follow as fans watch this intense, technical competition:

Nike Agunbiade poses on the podium with her bronze medal after the women's 10-meter platform finals at the 2022 FINA Diving World Cup on Oct. 22, 2022 in Berlin. (Photo by Getty Images)

History Can Be Made In Knoxville

Though they’ve already added their names into the U.S. diving history books, diving stars Nike Agunbiade and Kristen Hayden can make even more history in Knoxville. In 2021, Hayden, 26, became the first Black diver to win a USA Diving National Championship and qualify for a world championship. One year later, Agunbiade became the second Black athlete to qualify for a world championship. Together, one or both of them could become the first Black divers to represent Team USA at an Olympic Games. While Hayden has more experience, Agunbiade has been performing exceedingly well. One year after winning the Pac-12 Diving Freshman of the year award, she became the first Black diver in USC history to win a Pac-12 title in 3-meter, and did so by almost 40 points. In 2023 she added a Pac-12 platform title and became the first Black woman in Pac-12 and USC history to win two conference diving titles.

“Growing up, I didn't have a role model that looked like me," Hayden said in an interview with the NCAA. "I really wanted a USA diver that I could look up to and aspire to be like.”

“I believe that having other people to look up to is amazing and it can help inspire people to accomplish great things,” Agunbiade told Team USA in 2023. “But at the end of the day what you choose to do with yourself can really push you to accomplish great things.

"So, I try to be an example as a human who can try to do well in any situation and really work with that.”

Andrew Capobianco competes in the men's 3-meter springboard final during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 03, 2021 in Tokyo. (Photo by Getty Images)

Nine Tokyo Olympians Are Back Again

Of the 14 divers that represented Team USA at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, nine of them have qualified for these trials. All six women – Hailey Hernandez, Krysta Palmer, Alison Gibson, Katrina Young, Delaney Schnell and Jessica Parratto – will be competing to make another Olympic squad. Schnell and Parratto, who secured silver in the women’s 10m synchro in Tokyo, look to be at the top of their games once again heading into trials. Parratto will be looking to make her third consecutive Olympic team. Schnell, a Tuscon, Arizona, native, wrapped up her collegiate diving career in 2023 by winning a National Championship title with the University of Arizona.

But perhaps the most interesting athletes to follow for diving will be Hernandez and Palmer. Widely known for her consistency regardless of competition, Hernandez is one of the frontrunners for a roster spot in the 3m springboard disciplines. Meanwhile, Palmer, a veteran of the diving scene, has battled injuries throughout her career to get back to where she is today. The duo will be easy to root for when they battle it out in Knoxville.

On the men’s side, Tyler Downs, Andrew Capobianco and Brandon Loschiavo are looking to return to the Olympic stage. Downs, who sports a large social media following, picked up his first major international games medal in Santiago, claiming bronze in the men’s 3m synchronized event. Meanwhile, Capobianco will be looking to add to his Olympic medal collection after securing silver in the men’s 3m synchronized event in Tokyo. However, he is on the lookout for a new partner as Michael Hixon retired after Tokyo.

(l-r) Jessica Parratto and Delaney Schnell compete in the women's synchronized 10-meter platform prelims during the 2023 World Aquatics Championships on July 16, 2023 in Fukuoka, Japan. (Photo by Getty Images)

The Uniqueness of Diving Will Shine

On the surface, diving presents itself as a straightforward spot. Athletes complete a series of dives that are scored by multiple judges. The highest and lowest scores are then tossed to accumulate an average cumulative score for that round. However, those who tune into diving trials may witness several unexplained facets, routines and rituals common to diving that may evoke questions. Below are the answers to some of those questions that may arise while watching USA Diving selects their team for Paris in June:

How do divers pick their dives?

  • Divers must submit their dives ahead of the competition so judges can better understand what they are looking for when scoring a dive. Dives have an alpha-numerical title attached to them which indicate several facets of the dive to judges, including the direction of the dive, the number of expected rotations in that dive and the diver’s position (i.e. tuck or pike. The first number typically represents the direction (1 = front, 2 = back, 3 = reverse, and 4 = inward). The final number indicates the number of half-rotations the diver will attempt (1 is a classic, recreational pool dive. 2 indicates a full flip. 3 indicates 1 and 1/2 flips, etc.). The letter indicates the position of the dive (A = straight, B = pike, C = tuck, and D = free position). So, a dive labeled “103B” refers to a front-dive with 1 and 1/2 flips in the pike position. The middle zero does not refer to anything. Dives that include twists are normally four numbers. The first number is 5, indicating a twist will be in the dive. The second number denotes direction. The third number denotes flips, and the fourth number before the letter indicates the number of half-twists. For example, a “5132D” dive means a front dive with 1 and 1/2 flips and one twist in the free position.

What are those water jets that spray into the diving pool underneath the diving platforms?

  • There are a few reasons for these water jets, and they are all important for the health of the divers. The water jets break the surface tension of the pool, allowing for a softer landing surface for those competing in the 10-meter (32.8 feet) disciplines. Additionally, breaking the still, glass-like surface of a pool with jets allows the divers to see the water line easier. This helps avoid over-rotation and allows divers to spin into the correct entry position. Jets also help a diver to discern where the platform ends and the water begins from the top-down. That way, a diver can avoid a collision with the platform when flipping. This becomes important when divers jump off the platform backwards, but perform inward somersaults toward the platform.

What is that towel that divers “dry” themselves off with before and after dives?

  • That is the classic diving “shammy.” The small 13-inch by 17-inch towel is made of a material that is capable of absorbing up to 10 times its weight in water. Divers use a shammy for multiple reasons. The first is simply for drying off. A diver performing multiple flips in a tuck or a pike position needs to keep a firm grip on their legs through rotation. A shammy takes away excess water and mitigates the threat of a diver slipping out of their holds. Shammys also provide a way of warming up and comfort for the diver; while the venues and pressure changes, a diver’s shammy routine remains the same. Finally, a shammy provides divers another way to measure their distance to the water. Frequently seen in 10m events, look for divers to toss their shammys off the platform (which ultimately results in a satisfying “plop” sound). Divers will count the seconds it takes for shammys to “plop” to get another sense of how long they have until they hit the water.

Why do divers shower after their dives?

  • This answer also deals with the health of the diver. The constant routine of divers jumping into the pool and immediately exiting can cause muscles to cramp due to varying swings in body temperature. Showers alleviate the temperature switch by gradually keeping the muscles “warm.” Sometimes, a venue will provide a hot tub for divers to keep their muscles loose and prevent strains and tears from constantly jumping into colder water.

Fans can follow Team USA and USA Diving on their respective social media channels during trials for additional imagery, videos and other first looks as the Paris 2024 diving team is decided.